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A-Fish-ionado in the Making

When I was a freshman at Washington and Lee University, I read about an internship at Henry’s Fork Foundation, and immediately wanted to apply. The only problem was that a car was required, and that was something I just didn’t have. I gave up on the dream until this past February, when I saw that the application for an internship at HFF was due the next day. I still didn’t have a car, but it was going to be the last summer before I graduated, so I sent in my application anyways! I asked some of my mentors around campus what they thought my answer should be to the “car” interview question- the answer being a resounding “it will get sorted”- and just four months later, I was flying into Salt Lake City to pick up my mom’s car for my summer as the Water Quality and Ecology intern at HFF.  

As someone who grew up in Urban, Suburban, and now Rural Houston, Texas, my experience in fishing was surprisingly limited for the first 20 or so years of my life. This was until last summer, when my undergraduate research project (alongside Dr. Robert Humston and Kenny Zhang) revolved around the safe sampling of fish in aquatic ecosystems.  

Several times throughout June and July of 2023, I went to streams in the greater Southwest Virginia area and helped my professor electro-fish. To those who don’t know, I always explain electro-fishing as being like how the Ghostbusters operated- using a backpack and a probe- except this backpack and probe combination administers a light shock to the water, allowing fish to be removed from the stream for research. By mathematically converting fin tissue isotope ratios to muscle tissue isotope ratios, we worked on trying to find a non-lethal method of sampling smaller fish. Some species that we examined included blacknose, longnose, and rosyside dace (more dace than I could ever imagine!); sculpins, brook trout, central stonerollers, and bluehead chubs.

An eel we scooped up while E-fishing in Virginia (2023), AKA my first "river monster." Image courtesy of Lily Greenwald.

Fast-forward to this summer, I have been working with Dr. Jack McLaren to continue a temperature monitoring project that was started last summer. There are 17 temperature monitors throughout the “Ranch” of Harriman State Park, and I have the role of downloading data from these weekly, processing the data, and beginning to conceptualize why we are seeing the temperatures that we do along the Ranch, and what it might mean for the local ecosystem. Throughout the process, I have already gotten to meet so many inspiring Henry’s Fork aficionados who have so many stories and tidbits of fly-fishing information to share.  

These next few weeks, I am hoping to include more information on my project for the summer, what I have learned both inside and out of the lab, and what my time at the Henry’s Fork Foundation has meant to me. I couldn’t be more excited!

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So happy you found a way to be in Ashton for the summer, Lily!

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