Abby Copp ‘13
When Abby Copp took a vacation to Glacier National Park the summer before she graduated Keene State, she never thought it would lead to work.
The following summer, after finishing her degree at KSC, Abby returned to Glacier to work as a boat guide.
“I discovered Glacier Park Boat Company, which is who I ended up getting a job with,” she says. “As their guide, a lot of people asked me questions, which allowed me to use the knowledge I had gained about physical geography–mountains, glaciers and lakes–to help answer these questions and share information with people.”
Copp was tasked with driving two historic wooden boats in the Many Glacier region of the park while giving interpretive talks on the lakes. She also gave guided hikes to park visitors where she shared her knowledge of the region and the geographical features in the area.
While the trip wasn’t one of the many offered through the Geography Department at Keene State, the knowledge she gained in her time there allowed her to get the job and further hone future plans.
“It helped me to gain even more knowledge about this park, and also allowed me to determine that I want to further my career in the National Park Service or within the State Parks,” Copp says.
Of course, some of that is just part of who Abby is. She grew up hiking the mountains of New Hampshire and taking exploration vacations with her family to national parks across the country.
“My family first took me to Yellowstone National Park when I was 10 and then I went to Glacier National Park a year later and fell in love with it,” she says. “Hiking is a big part of my life. And I just love the mountains and just the pretty landscape that you get out west and here in New England.”
Once at Keene State she indulged that love of nature by becoming a Geography major.
“It gave me a wide variety of things to do,” she says. “I wasn’t just taking one thing. I could kind of venture out and try to figure out what I wanted to do.”
Copp says at first, she wasn’t sure what she would do with the degree. But as she started getting involved with the professors, who provided real world examples of how they used Geography before joining academia, she started to see the possibilities.
She was further convinced that there was a Geographical life after college during her senior seminar project; a group project each student is required to complete before graduating. For her project, Copp worked with other students to make a boardwalk in a swampy area behind a local elementary school.
“The layout of the boardwalk was already there, but we went in and mapped it in and did some studies on the wetlands,” she says.
A big part of the project was studying how outdoor learning can be good for the classroom. To that end, Copp and her classmates did a GPS unit with the students, and taught them how to Geocache.
“I’ve always believed that being in the outdoors and learning about nature is really important,” she says. “We did surveys of the students asking them whether they wanted to learn outside. I mean, when I was a kid, I wanted to be outside. And they said they wanted to learn outside, too.
“(The project) opened my eyes more and it was really cool to work with teachers who also believe outdoor learning is important.”
After graduation, Copp took a job with Compliance Designs Inc., a company that gives licenses to bottled water companies.
“My dream job would be to get to work with the state parks,” Copp says. “But (the people who started the company) knew that I was majoring in Geography and that’s why they wanted me. So it’s kind of weird how majoring in Geography made this company consider me. They knew I would be familiar with the 50 states.”