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Falling for Ashton

Hey y'all, I'm Hannah Grace Galbreath and I am a rising senior at Washington and Lee University, majoring in Biology and Environmental Studies on a Climate Change track. I was born and raised in Cape Coral, Florida which meant that every day, I was only minutes from the water. My proximity to water encouraged me to have a relationship with it from an early age; I loved to fish, kayak, boat, swim, snorkel, and scuba dive. However, as I entered high school, I began to see issues with the water bodies near my hometown and I was no longer able to do the things that I loved. The beaches were now littered with dead fish, dolphins, and crustaceans. This event, along with my wonderful water experiences as a child, led me to realize that I needed to make an impact on my local waterways. Therefore, for a project my senior year of high school I worked with an organization, Captains for Clean Water (CFCW), which allowed me to learn about water issues in my area that impacted fishing, recreation, and water quality. After learning about the water issues in my area, my world was changed; I read books, listened to podcasts, and watched documentaries, I did basically anything to learn about the water quality problems in my area.

As I transitioned into college, I carried over the knowledge that I had gained while working with CFCW into my academics at Washington and Lee. As an incoming first-year student I was able to work in the Biology Department as a student researcher to analyze the interaction between crayfish populations and water in Virginia, solidifying my want to work with water quality in an official capacity. Therefore, when I saw newsletters about Henry’s Fork Foundations’ (HFF) internship program, I knew I had to apply. I wanted to not only learn about the ways in which water was being affected in my hometown and college town, but everywhere. I wanted to expand my knowledge to the west and be a part of a solution to the ongoing crisis for quality water everywhere.

I am beyond grateful to be working with HFF to expand my knowledge about water across the continental US. This summer I will be working with PhD student Jack McLaren to take vertical profile samples of Island Park (IP) reservoir to see how water quality parameters affect trout and salmon populations. In addition to my work with Jack, I will be collecting invasive species samples for Idaho State Department of Agriculture and doing an independent project about harmful algal blooms (HAB) in IP reservoir. For my independent project I will be looking at data collected by HFF and other agencies to see if HAB intensity and frequency have increased in recent years in IP reservoir as a function of increased awareness/reporting or as a negative trend in water quality due to climate change, increased water use, changes in land use, etc. Working with HFF allows me to pursue one of my oldest passions as well as learn about the water specific to Island Park reservoir.

Since being in Idaho I have had many opportunities to explore Eastern Idaho. I have been able to work at the fish ladder, go fly fishing, see Mesa Falls, explore Ashton, cruise around IP reservoir, and so much more. In addition to all these wonderful places, the interns have been planning the rest of our weekends so that we can see all the wonders of Idaho and the Northwest. We cannot wait to explore and try new things while out here! So far, we plan on hiking the Tetons, camping in Glacier National Park, and seeing the rodeo. I can’t wait to keep y’all updated on my time our here in Ashton!

Pictured above are interns Hannah Grace Galbreath, Abigail Lewis, Chloe Perel, and Emma Doherty at Mesa Falls.

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