In graduate school Jacob Sheetz-Willard ’12 continued to study the subject he learned to love at Hamilton– history – on a campus that sits at the base of the Wasatch Mountains in Northern Utah. He earned a master’s degree in American history at Utah State University, where he was the Presidential Fellow for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.
At Hamilton and since Sheetz-Willard has continued to combine his love of history, the outdoors and of inspiring young people to value and preserve their natural surroundings and communities. He’s a teacher at the High Mountain Institute, a semester-long program that helps high school students engage with the natural world.
“In addition to teaching three sections of American history, I also take students on three 10- to 14-day wilderness expeditions – backpacking and ski touring – in Colorado and Utah over the course of the semester,” Sheetz-Willard says.
In grad school he made time to learn the history of the landscape, volunteer with a local ski patrol and enjoy some outdoor recreation. At Hamilton he minored in environmental studies and snowshoed in the nearby Adirondacks with his Adirondack history class.
He was hooked on history from his first course as an undergraduate, “The African Diaspora,” with only a dozen students and a lot of discussion around primary documents and the contemporary African experience in the U.S. and the world.
Over a summer, funded by a grant from Hamilton and working with a professor, Sheetz-Willard combined his passion for history and the environment into a research project about the activism of musician Pete Seeger, who fought for the cleanup of the polluted Hudson River.