UM Student Lands White House Internship

UM student Nick Mills, shown here in front of the U.S. Capitol, was selected for a Washington, D.C., internship.

By Phil Stempin, UM News Service

MISSOULA – Missoula native Nick Mills has a passion for the outdoors and wildlife that runs as deep as the Rattlesnake Wilderness. He knew he wanted the right college to pursue his interests, and he didn’t have to look too far.

“I chose to stay in Missoula because of the University of Montana’s world-class wildlife biology program. I realized I wanted to protect the areas I loved,” said Mills. “Then I started taking policy classes with Martin Nie, and the 4+1 program piqued my interest. It felt like a great way to combine policy and science.”

This set him on a path to being selected to intern with the White House Council on Environmental Quality. 

Mills leveraged UM’s “4+1” program to earn this opportunity. Recognizing an increasing demand for careers in wildlife biology and public and nonprofit administration, UM’s Master of Public Administration and Wildlife Biology programs created a joint degree. The program is the first of its kind in the country.

The “4+1” program allows UM students to earn both a four-year Bachelor of Science degree in Wildlife Biology and a two-year master’s degree in public administration at an accelerated pace of just five years, instead of the usual six.

The program requires an internship to give students a chance to hone their skills. For Mills, that means working with the White House.

“I gained the ability to listen to diverse sets of policyholders and then to come up with solutions for bigger picture decisions,” Mills said about the MPA program. “Connecting the dots [when dealing with complex issues] is crucial. The MPA helped me learn to analyze and look at the way things work before making decisions.”

The White House CEQ, led by Chair Brenda Mallory, advises the president on policies addressing the environmental justice and climate change challenges the nation faces while advancing opportunities for job growth and economic development.

“I feel very fortunate for not only this incredible internship, but for the skills I’ve learned in the 4+1 program,” Mills said. “This program opened up a lot for me. It is a launchpad for the career I want to pursue.”

For more information on UM’s 4+1 program, visit


Contact: Phil Stempin; director of events, marketing and communications; UM Alexander Blewett III School of Law, 406-243-6509,