James Sy is a familiar face in the California State Office, completing his seventh summer in the BLM-California external affairs office. James became a STEP student in his high school junior year, after his father, who works for the Bureau of Reclamation, asked James if he would be interested in a summer job. James initially worked on automating data and setting up the special status plants webpages. He then worked on setting up the wilderness section on the BLM-California website. He returned this year to work on other NLCS unit webpages. James is in his senior year at Sacramento State University, majoring in philosophy. Born in Hawaii and raised in the Sacramento area, James enjoys playing video games, although he says he is not very good at them. When not on the video machine, he tries to stay in shape and stay healthy. To help burn calories he philosophizes, asking questions such as "Why are we here and what keeps the universe stable enough to support life?"
Lauren Szlosek is a student volunteer, instead of a STEP. Being a conservationist and wanting to do something productive during her summer break, she solicited the aid of her father, Newsbytes editor/writer extraordinaire Gus Szlosek, to solidify a volunteer position with the bureau performing various tasks in the external affairs office a couple of days per week. She is a 2008 graduate from Davis High School. Her interests are eclectic -- reading, manga (a drawing style developed in Japan), watching bad movies and hanging out with friends. She also likes to write, having participated three times in National Novel Writing Month, a creative writing project held annually in November in which participants attempt to write a 50,000-word novel in one month. She humbly describes her work as "pretty bad." Lauren will be entering her second year at Mount Holyoke College in her father's native Massachusetts this fall.
- J.D., 7/09