Sen. Max Baucus announced this week that a 2004 Darby High School graduate, Zach Rogala, has been selected as his most recent Sean Michael Miles Fellow.
Baucus established the Sean Michael Miles Conservation Fellowship in 2000 to honor the legacy of the 1997 Bozeman High School graduate who was completing his sophomore year at Princeton University when he passed away unexpectedly.
Miles intended to return home after graduating from Princeton to dedicate himself to a career focused on writing and the preservation of Montana’s last remaining wildlands.
Rogala has been in Washington, D.C., for the past several months working with Baucus’ staff.
“I’m a research fellow, so I help out the legislative staff with the energy portfolio, and I work on doing background research on short term and long term projects for the senator,” he said. “For example, I might be comparing subsidies for energy industries or talking with constituents on their various concerns related to resource management. It’s always something different.”
Rogala has been a ski instructor for over eight years, working at Bridger Bowl in Bozeman, Montana and at Yellowstone Club in Big Sky. He is currently a staff trainer at Yellowstone Club and is an alpine examiner for Professional Ski Instructors of America – Northern Rocky Mountain, which is the governing body of ski instructors in the geographic area. Rogala has also taught skiing in Chile and Germany.
A Montana State University graduate in philosophy, he has also been a whitewater river guide on the Salmon and Snake river systems since 2005.
“Receiving the Sean Michael Miles Fellowship is an honor,” he said. “I’m thankful that the Miles family and Senator Baucus put in the time to create this opportunity for young Montanans. I have big shoes to fill from past Miles Fellows.”
Rogala said that although Baucus is not up for re-election, the upcoming Nov. 6 election has created a different work schedule for him for the past several months.
“Everyone is really working on the election,” he said. “A lot of legislative items are on hold, because the routes we take depend on how the Senate is comprised after the election. We’re working more on strategic planning right now. If one person gets elected we go this route, or if the other person gets elected we go another route. We have a bunch of numbers and reports on hand, so we can get our legislative reports out quicker. That’s what we’re working on now.”
Rogala, who barely escaped Hurricane Sandy and is home in Montana working for the next week, said he is currently working on a legislative history of Baucus’ engagement with energy and conservation leaders in the state.
“He’s been in office since ‘78, and he’s the fifth-most senior Senator, so there is quite a history there,” Rogala explained. “I’m learning a lot about the history of the state to get a catalogue of that. It’s really cool.”
Rogala has also been working on a long-term online project called The Montana Ethic Project that provides a snapshot of the values and beliefs that exist in the state.
“It’s a 34-part video series from leaders in business, politics and academics,” he said. “Every Sunday we release a video online. We’ve been very pleased with the project.”
Senator Baucus released a statement saying he couldn’t be more pleased to have the Darby native onboard.
“Zack understands what it means to be Montanan and has a life-long appreciation for the outdoors,” Baucus said in the statement. “He has spent years on Montana’s rivers and mountains – and he will bring these valuable experiences to the office.”
While in Washington D.C., Rogala will be working on energy and resources management issues for Senator Baucus.
Montana students or graduates with a dedicated interest in conserving Montana’s wildlands can apply for the Miles Fellowship online at http://www.baucus.senate.gov/?p=opportunities.
Reach reporter David Erickson at 363-3300 or email@example.com.