C of I Newsletter

2013. 08. 09

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Professor Eric Yensen lends Idaho ground squirrels a helping hand


Click here to see a Boise State Public Radio story on Dr. Yensen's research.

Measuring roughly 10 inches in length and weighing less than a pound, Idaho’s ground squirrels live their lives relatively unnoticed by much of the outside world. Apart from the farmers who consider them pests and the predators that rely upon them for survival, few are aware of the ground squirrels’ quiet existence, and fewer still realize the important role they play in Idaho’s ecosystems.

“These animals actually are very beneficial in the wild,” said C of I biology professor Dr. Eric Yensen. “There are no native earthworms in our ecosystem, so they fill an important ecological role in establishing and maintaining soil fertility and plant growth.”

Since 2010, Yensen has led an effort to boost struggling populations of southern Idaho ground squirrels through a translocation program. Partnering with Zoo Boise, Yensen and his wife Teresa, also a biologist, have developed a technique to capture squirrels from farms and golf courses where they aren’t wanted, transport them to suitable native habitats and help them maintain a healthy population. With the help of Zoo Boise director Steve Burns and dozens of volunteers – including current and former C of I students Cameron Braun, Zach Clayton, Sam Finch, Steve Guild, Diana Melgarejo and Cristian Noya-Rada – Yensen has spent hours capturing, tagging, tracking and moving the squirrels into protected nesting boxes where they can acclimate to their new surroundings in safety before venturing out on their own.

In spite of difficulties with predators – the squirrels are a key prey item for badgers, weasels, coyotes, raptors and snakes – the program has seen its share of successes. With a little help from Yensen’s team, the relocated squirrels are surviving at a sustainable rate, leading to hope that the method could be used to bolster populations of the northern Idaho ground squirrel, which is on the federal list of threatened species. The process is neither easy nor cheap, Yensen said, but it could be used to reestablish populations if it becomes necessary.

“It turns out it’s a lot harder to use translocation for ground squirrels than it is for wolves,” Yensen said with a laugh. “It was a real challenge to start a new population from scratch, but we are seeing some positive results.”

'American Dream' presents opportunities, challenges for international graduates

International Students (2)

The C of I International Student Organization celebrated its largest graduating class in 2013.

By Chelsea Larsen
Editor’s note: This story is the first in a three-part series covering different aspects of The College of Idaho’s international student community.

“What am I going to do after graduation?”

It is a question every college student is faced with as commencement nears. But many students have a built-in network of friends, family and local connections to help them figure things out – or at least make ends meet until they find the right career opportunity.

International students often do not have those luxuries. Home may be half a world away and, in most cases, financial help from family is not an option. At The College of Idaho, the majority of international students are Davis Scholars, who receive full tuition and a small stipend to cover living expenses. But luxuries such as cars, smart phones and visits home are rare commodities, and the financial aid ends after graduation.

“[When accepted to an American college] you are focused on the educational opportunity,” said Viktor Todorov, a 2012 C of I graduate from Macedonia. “You don’t really think about the reality and what you actually want to do in life [afterward].”

The College of Idaho’s International Student Organization (ISO) holds meetings about Optional Practice Training – the process by which international students can get approval to work for up to a year in the U.S. on a student visa – throughout each school year, but getting a job after college remains a long and difficult process for many.

“We’re mostly learning from the older [classes of students], but even that is difficult because things change over time,” said Iris Cvijanovic, a 2013 graduate from Bosnia & Herzegovina.

OPT is the most promising solution for students to secure a career opportunity in their major field, but there are no guarantees. Obstacles include a $400 application fee, a two-month waiting period and, once accepted, a 90-day window to activate OPT by finding a job in one’s specific field of study. In most cases, employers must sponsor international employees after the first year. Otherwise, the employee may have to leave the United States.

“It’s hard to develop a constant idea of what to do after graduation,” said Igor Samardzic ’13, also from Bosnia & Herzegovina. “There are so many obstacles and options.”

Things are getting better for international students at the C of I. When Todorov arrived in 2008, there were only six international students on campus. Today, there are more than 100, providing a larger base of international seniors and recent graduates to relay information to newcomers.

Anja Stoll, a 2013 graduate from Germany, learned from her predecessors and began job hunting early, before she even received OPT approval. Three months later, Anja has a job at the Edmark Superstore car dealership in Nampa as the online inventory specialist. She has her own desk in the Kia Showroom and “the fastest computer!” She hopes the company will continue to sponsor her so she can work in the U.S. for a couple of years before returning home.

In spite of the obstacles, international students are grateful for the opportunities studying in the United States provides. And with the growing international population at the C of I – students from more than 50 countries attended last year – and the increasing reach of the ISO, the path to success after college is becoming more attainable.

For Todorov, the “American Dream” means having the opportunity to do what you want. He says living in Idaho has been better than he expected.

“Where I come from, most of the people can’t wait to be plugged into the system.” he said. “A lot of people here are headed in that direction, but there’s more hope than at home.”

Todorov plans to return to Macedonia in the near future. But no matter where life takes him, he – and dozens of his international peers – will never stop pursuing their versions of the “American Dream.”

Raptosh's new book explores the state of America

College of Idaho English professor Diane Raptosh is set for the release of her new book, American Amnesiac, which hits shelves Aug. 22. The book, published by Etruscan Press, is available in paperback for $16 at Rediscovered Bookshop in Boise (www.rdbooks.org), where Raptosh will sign copies during a 6 p.m. release event Aug. 22. The book also will be carried in Terteling Library on the C of I campus.

American Amnesiac is the fourth book published by Raptosh, who teaches courses in creative writing, literature and criminal justice at the C of I. Raptosh also is the Poet Laureate of Boise for 2013 and the Idaho Writer in Residence for a three-year term beginning in 2013. Her latest book is a dramatic monologue in verse spoken through the voice of amnesiac Calvin Rinehart upon awakening from his state of forgetfulness.

“I came upon the vehicle of the amnesiac who wakes up one day and is unable to recognize himself and the world he is living in,” Raptosh said. “This allows him the opportunity to ponder what it means to have an identity and to be a ‘self.’ It also allows him the opportunity to look around, from a fresh perspective, at the United States. The amnesiac narrator is concerned about a number of matters, such as environmental degradation and the criminal justice system.”

American Amnesiac can be read either as a series of discrete (untitled) poems or as one sustained monologue. Raptosh believes its debut is coming at an important time in American history.

“I was feeling distressed about the state of the United States,” Raptosh said. “And I decided that as a writer, I could offer a way to investigate the state of things in America. I chose to do that through my poetry.”

Click here to purchase a copy of American Amnesiac or here for more information about the Aug. 22 signing event at Rediscovered Bookshop.

C of I praised by national rankings publications

Idaho's No. 1 College

It is college rankings season, and The College of Idaho once again is being recognized by publications around the country as Idaho’s No. 1 institution of higher education. Four national rankings publications have featured the C of I in recent weeks, with the annual U.S. News & World Report rankings due out next month. To date, the College has been:

  • Ranked the No. 19 best college value in the nation for its combination of strong academic quality and economic value for students by College Factual, a new site that uses customizable, outcome-based tools and rankings to guide students through the college selection process. The ranking reflects The College of Idaho’s quality and value based upon the cost of obtaining an undergraduate degree. The C of I is one of only two liberal arts colleges in the West – and the only Idaho institution– to be ranked in the top 20 of College Factual’s “Best Colleges for the Money” list. Click here to see the College Factual profile. 
  • Named one of the nation’s top schools by The Princeton Review in the 2014 edition of its book, The Best 378 Colleges. The C of I for several years has been an annual inclusion in the book, which includes detailed profiles of colleges with quality ratings in eight categories based upon surveys of students. In the 2014 rankings, the C of I scored 96 (out of 99) for “quality of campus life.” The C of I faculty also received favorable reviews, scoring 96 for “professors accessible” and 95 for “professors interesting.” The Best 378 Colleges, which also includes lists of the top 20 schools in 62 different categories, ranked The College of Idaho No. 12 for “Best Health Services” and No. 18 for “Easiest Campus to get around.” Click here to view the full rankings. 
  • Included in Forbes’ list of “America’s Top Colleges,” which ranks the top 650 schools in the nation. Forbes’ rankings are based upon post graduate success, student satisfaction, debt, four-year graduation rate and competitive awards. The C of I ranked No. 310 on this year’s list and No. 1 amongst Idaho institutions. Click here to see the Forbes profile. 
  • Featured in the 2014 edition of Fiske Guide to Colleges. The book, compiled by former New York Times education editor Edward B. Fiske, is a selective, subjective look at approximately 300 of the best colleges and universities in the United States, Canada and Great Britain.

Keep an eye on The College of Idaho website, Newsletter and social media feeds for more national rankings updates this fall!


Summer 2013

College Events Calendar

Every Friday

Orma J. Smith Museum of Natural History hosts public open house, 1-5 p.m., Boone Hall basement. Click for more information.

August 14

Tri-County Area Alumni and Friends Reception, 5:30 p.m., Fruitland Community Park. Click for more info and to RVSP!

August 15

Alumni and Friends Night at the Caldwell Night Rodeo, 7:45 p.m. Discounted tickets available and RSVPs required! Call (208) 459-5301 or email [email protected]

August 17

McCall Area Alumni and Friends Reception, 5:30 p.m., Bistro 45. Click for info and registration!

August 22

C of I Professor Diane Raptosh releases her new book 'American Amnesiac.' Click to pre-order through Rediscovered Bookshop in Boise!

August 22

Book signing for C of I Professor Diane Raptosh's new book 'American Amnesiac,' 6 p.m., Rediscovered Bookshop (Boise). Click for more info!

August 23

Alumni and Friends Night at the Idaho Shakespeare Festival, 7:30 p.m. (Boise). Discounted tickets available for $15. Plus, don't miss a special 6:30 p.m. lecture on the evening's play, 'King Richard III,' by C of I history professor Dori Johnson '00. For more info or to RSVP, email [email protected]

August 24

Bug Day, 9 a.m.-3 p.m., Idaho Botanical Garden (Boise). Produced in partnership with The College of Idaho's Orma J. Smith Museum of Natural History. Click for more info.


Not all scientific research is done in a lab! Click to see how a group of College of Idaho students accompanied by biology professor Dr. Mark Gunderson are spending the summer performing field research on the toxicology of Idaho's river systems using crayfish as an invertebrate model.

C of I sports information director and Boise Hawks play-by-play radio broadcaster Mike Safford Jr. was heard on national television July 27 as his call of a home run by Chicago Cubs’ prospect Kris Bryant appeared on MLB Network’s two evening shows, MLB Tonight and Quick Pitch. The call also was heard during the WGN broadcast of the Cubs’ game versus San Francisco.

C of I alumnus Brian Hosefros ’10 has produced the music for the opera Strekoza i Muravej (The Ant and the Grasshopper), a re-imagining of the classic Russian fable following the lives of the extravagant Strekoza and the dutiful Muravej. The show will be performed Aug. 15 and 16 during Tete a Tete: The Opera Festival at Riverside Studios in London.

The 2013-2014 C of I Student Experience Blogs are up and running. Click here to check out the latest humor, stories and insights from our talented student journalists!

Check out the latest Coyote Classics football video featuring Rich Aitken ’72, who played left tackle for the Coyotes before going on to a successful career in sales and marketing. To view more Coyote Classics stories, visit www.yoteathletics.com/kickoff2014.

College of Idaho student Molly Hamilton recently graduated from the Army Reserve Officers’ Training Camp Leader’s Training Course at Fort Knox., Ky. The four-week course is a leadership internship for Army cadets that can lead to the ultimate goal of becoming an officer. Click here to read more in the Idaho Press-Tribune.

C of I alumnus Ron Bitner ’68 recently was named one of the “Top 100 Most Influential U.S. Winemakers” by wineindustryinsight.com. Bitner, who owns Bitner Vineyards in Caldwell, came in at No. 95 on the list. Bitner also was featured in a recent Boise Weekly article - a story written by BW editor and C of I alumnus Zach Hagadone '03.

College of Idaho soccer player Amanda Boyce recently was featured by her hometown newspaper, the (Nevada) Elko Daily Free Press. Boyce, a senior, was a defensive starter last season, but she will play midfield this year.

The College of Idaho's record fundraising year received coverage from several local media outlets, including KIVI News. The C of I raised $6.5 million during the 2012-2013 fiscal year.