Zachary Gihorski“We all have a responsibility to give back to the communities that gave us so much.”

Every day at 5:30 a.m., Zachary K. Gihorski talks to his mom on the phone as she works on the family farm. Later each morning, when he goes to work, Gihorski thinks about how he can use his position to act as a voice for farmers like his mother. “I’m the proud son of a first-generation woman farmer,” said Gihorski. “I can influence policy at the national level that impacts her life and the lives of a lot of my friends who own family farms. For me, it’s like being able to give back to my tribe.”

He serves as associate director, public policy, at the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, a nonprofit that represents state agricultural officials in Washington, D.C., to support the creation of sound agricultural policy. Gihorski worked as a public servant in government before applying to law school, and he attended Dickinson Law hoping to return to that arena after graduation.

“I knew from day one that I wasn’t going to be a lawyer, but I also felt I could leverage my relationships and education for a great experience that would help me in my next role. It was by far one of the best decisions I have made. I received a world-class education,” said Gihorski, who became the first person in his family to attend graduate school.

Through the relationships built at Dickinson Law, he met people working in the environmental law field, in government affairs, and for the private sector. He gained greater insights into how legislation is drafted and how it impacts the daily lives of citizens. “My professors really made themselves available to me to help me not just to discuss the law but, more importantly, how to make a difference, and it has created dividends that have paid off in my life every single day,” said Gihorski.