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The first Student Congress was held in 2012 in conjunction with a symposium commemorating the 200th anniversary of the creation of the General Land Office (predecessor of the Bureau of Land Management). A Student Congress has been convened every other year since then, with the exception of 2020. Each of the subsequent Congresses has a different focus including: wilderness management, the Federal Land Policy and Management Act, and the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. The four Biennial Student Congress events were hosted by the Public Lands Foundation (PLF), a national membership organization that advocates and works to keep public lands in public hands. Future Student Congresses will be hosted by the Andrus Center for Public Policy along with the Public Lands Foundation and the National Association of Forest Service Retirees.

Each biennial Student Congress is place-specific and centered on a particular theme. Approximately twenty-five undergraduate and graduate students from across the nation are invited. Retirees, professors, and experts provide context and insight during four days of on-site meetings, panels, field trips, and activities. The Congresses make important progress on four main goals:

  • Educate our youth on the history and current issues related to public land management;
  • Engage students in providing input into the future of these lands;
  • Expand potential career consideration and enrich student resumes; and
  • Memorialize the contributions of Dr. John Freemuth to public policy and public land management

Congress Format

The Andrus Center for Public Policy, Public Lands Foundation, and National Association of Forest Service Retirees are partnering to host the 2022 Inaugural John Freemuth Student Congress October 3-6, 2022 in Boise, Idaho, focusing on fire management. Select college and university students from across the country will examine western fire management through field work and policy discussions, culminating in a student authored report that will be presented to the Secretary of the Interior, Deb Haaland. Students will explore issues such as: managing vegetation and fuels for resilient landscapes, protecting homes and communities, managing fire, and responding to wildfire.

Program Funding

Students have no out of pocket expenses when selected to participate. Expenses are covered by the generosity of donors, grant funding, and facilitating partners. There is an estimated $2,500 per student cost and coordination involves a large group of volunteers and constituents to facilitate.

Read the Report and Recommendations from the 2022 John Freemuth Student Congress

John Freemuth

The late Dr. John Freemuth, Boise State University Distinguished Professor of Public Policy and Cecil D. Andrus Endowed Chair for Environment and Public Lands, was heavily involved in past biennial Student Congresses. Starting in 2022, the event will be re-named in his honor to continue his legacy. John was a prolific scholar, influential educator, and celebrated member of the Boise State University community until his passing in May 2020. As the Cecil D. Andrus Endowed Chair of Environment and Public Lands, John made profound contributions to the conversation surrounding our public lands through his many books, journal articles, presentations, and student advocacy and engagement efforts. Given John’s role in all previous Student Congress events and his commitment to public lands, this is a fitting tribute.

2022 John Freemuth Student Congress Participants


The Andrus Center for Public Policy at Boise State University, Public Lands Foundation, and the National Association of Forest Service Retirees are pleased to announce the students selected for the Inaugural John Freemuth Student Congress to be hosted October 3-6, 2022 in Boise, Idaho. 

Adam Lohman, Duke University
Alyssa Farnes, Idaho State University
Alyssa Worsham, Western Colorado University
Anna Crabtree, Ohio University
Betsy Black, Northern Arizona University
Brad Thornton, Mississippi State University
Bradley Massey, Alabama A&M University
Cameron Brown, Boise State University
Carolina Estrella, Wellesley College
Connor Tobin, Whitman University
Clara Comer, Boise State University
Eliza Moreno, Stanford University
Evan Alvarado, East Tennessee State University
Evert Vermeer, University of California-Santa Barbara
Jacob Bernal, Boise State University
Jayce Bradley, University of California-Davis
Kevin Williams, College of Western Idaho
Kyle Trefny, University of Oregon
Maria Anastacio, Texas Tech University
Megan Gulik, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale
Nicholas Silvis, Gettysburg College
Nicholas Welsh, Saint Michael’s College
Nick Salgado-Stanley, California Polytechnic State Institute-Humboldt
Rebecca Cox, Wellesley College
Tamera Breidenbach, Colorado State

Learn More

Visit the Andrus Center’s John Freemuth Student Congress website hosted by Boise State University for more information.