• Sydney Schmitter

Going with the Flow

I’m already more than halfway done with my internship with the Henry’s Fork Foundation (HFF), and I’ve been busy at work with the various projects I’m completing this summer! I am putting together two new exhibits for the Interpretive Center, which include an interactive ArcGIS StoryMap that details HFF’s South Fork Initiative, as well as a custom groundwater model of the Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer that demonstrates how various activities impact groundwater and surface water levels. Along with my main project, I have worked on signage for fish tanks and other smaller exhibits in the Interpretive Center, co-authored educational grants, and planned a river cleanup for the end of July. As an intern on the communications side of the Henry’s Fork Foundation, I have also created a series of water glossary social media posts and manage the intern blog and intern social media posts for HFF. In the next few weeks, I will analyze Interpretive Center user demographic data to identify how we can best reach visitors with engaging and educational content.


Through my work in education and outreach with HFF, I hope to become a strategic communicator and tailor my various projects towards HFF members and balance what people would like to see versus what is needed for people to better understand the work of the Henry’s Fork Foundation. I was explicit in the goals I set out for myself in the start of my internship, which included ones such as growing my technical coding skills, becoming a highly strategic environmental communicator, and gaining a better sense of what a PhD in an interdisciplinary environmental field would look like for me. I am gaining so much valuable experience in these areas!


My favorite part of my internship so far has been the weekly Seminar Series on Tuesdays hosted by the Henry’s Fork Foundation. Every Tuesday, an invited speaker presents their research on a variety of topics ranging from the history of fly fishing in Montana to the importance of freshwater resources on Yellowstone’s Rhyolite Plateau. My personal favorite lecture so far has been on socio-hydrology from Dr. Murugesu Sivapalan from UIUC, where I learned about virtual water exchange and the unintended socio-political consequences of different water conservation strategies. As part of my internship, I have also enjoyed chatting with fellow interns and various stakeholders that interact with the Henry’s Fork.


Overall, I am gaining a much better understanding of what the collaborative management of a valuable natural resource looks like in practice. Whereas prior to this internship I had heard about the conservation of natural resources through animus lawsuits and strict environmental policy, the Henry’s Fork Foundation does a truly remarkable job of bridging stakeholder goals together to collaboratively manage the Henry’s Fork for the benefit of farmers, anglers, and habitat health. My view on what environmentalism is has benefited so much from my internship with the Henry’s Fork Foundation and I am so grateful for the community and mentorship I have received, even on Zoom. In the past week, I’ve traded my view of California waves for the Hudson River in New York City, where I will be spending the rest of my summer. In my free time, I have enjoyed exploring Central Park and walking along the water to admire the change in scenery!


Photo of the sunset view from Hudson Yards in New York City, where I enjoy going on walks with my roommates.



Picture of the virtual reality boat at HFF’s Interpretive Center, where the two new exhibits I am working on will be displayed within the next few months!

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