What did you do this past summer?
As we reconnect with our classmates and colleagues on campus each fall semester, we are sometimes amazed to learn about the interesting times that our friends have experienced over the summer months.
For example our second-year Master of Community and Regional Planning (MCRP) student had an interesting summer experience. Taylor Cook came to the MCRP degree program with a Bachelor of Arts degree in geography from UNL, with minors in political science and community and regional planning. He is
interested in promoting environmental protection, along with sustainable development, in vulnerable rural areas.
During summer 2018, Cook worked as an intern with Valley Advocates for Responsible Development (VARD) in Teton County, which is located in the eastern-most part of Idaho, along the Wyoming border. In the early 2000s, Teton County had been one of the fastest growing counties in Idaho and in the entire nation. The national housing bubble of 2008 resulted in a massive slow-down in development, along with the expiration of development agreements for numerous subdivisions in the area.
Since 2001, VARD has been dedicated to preserving natural resources, protecting rural character and promoting vibrant communities in Teton Valley. During the summer, Cook inventoried 26 subdivisions in the county with expired development agreements that resulted from the 2008 national financial crisis. For these now-vacant subdivisions, Cook designed alternative subdivision plans that include housing combined with areas devoted to farming and conservation. Cook is incorporating the work and lessons from his summer internship in his master’s thesis for the MCRP degree. It was an enjoyable summer, but with lots of educational benefits to boot!
By the way, Cook’s dad is John Cook, head coach of the Huskers’ NCAA Division I National Championship Women’s Volleyball Team!