• Sydney Schmitter

My Last Week at the Henry’s Fork Foundation

Wow, what a wonderful 10 weeks this has been at the Henry’s Fork Foundation! As I enter my final week here at HFF, I’ve been busy wrapping up my summer projects and reflecting on the immense privilege I had to work at this fantastic organization. On Tuesday, I gave my final Summer Seminar Series presentation to the other interns, HFF staff, and the general public detailing my four overarching categories of projects I completed this summer. I was nervous for my presentation but I received so much positive feedback from my peers, and it was also amazing to see the various projects my fellow interns have completed this summer.

Photo of my final Seminar Series presentation on Tuesday, where I presented the work I completed this summer for the Henry’s Fork Foundation.


Since my last blog post, I’ve been putting the final touches on my South Fork Initiative ArcGIS Story Map and planned a river cleanup for the Henry’s Fork Foundation! The Summer River Cleanup took place on July 22nd, and although I wasn’t able to attend in person as a remote intern, I was involved in the publicity, logistics, and set-up of the event. Volunteers in teams led by HFF staff members traveled to various access sites and picked up litter through floating, wading, or walking along the banks of the Henry’s Fork. The Henry’s Fork Foundation provided a small lunch to volunteers, and staff members and volunteers were able to mingle and get to know each other. Our big ticket item for the day was a couch that we pulled from the banks of the river! Overall, the trash we collected overflowed the HFF dumpster and we found much more trash than expected. I learned a lot from planning this event, and from now on it looks like HFF will host a river cleanup every summer!

Picture of a volunteer at the river cleanup wading to collect a few pieces of litter!


Photo of the volunteer team that collected a couch from the banks of the river!


Besides the river cleanup, I am finalizing some edits on one of my biggest projects for the summer, an Interactive ArcGIS Story Map that details the work of HFF’s South Fork Initiative. The South Fork Initiative provides HFF the opportunity to influence broad-scale water management for the benefit of the Henry’s Fork and the South Fork, as the two watersheds are highly interconnected. Although the South Fork Initiative is one of HFF’s newest and largest programs, there is currently no exhibit dedicated to educating visitors about its amazing work. Alongside Bryce Oldemeyer and Dave Weskamp, I put together a cohesive story to educate Interpretive Center visitors about the South Fork Initiative’s largest projects and the importance of HFF’s work on the South Fork. I had a lot of fun writing this story and selecting visually appealing photos and design elements to add to the Story Map. The Story Map will be displayed on screens in the Interpretive Center in the near future, and I am so excited to hear feedback on this new exhibit.


Small snapshot of the SFI Interactive ArcGIS Story Map.


In an internship position like mine as the Education and Interpretive Center Intern, I didn’t work on a formal research project like most other HFF Interns. Instead, I had the opportunity to work on building my strategic communication skills through a series of smaller, diversified projects that ranged from blog posts like these to physical events like the river cleanup. I came into this internship with a desire to feel like a valued team member and build my communication and data analysis skills, and I got exactly that experience!


One of my favorite parts of the last two weeks of this internship was the Graduate School Panel hosted by HFF staff. This was by far one of the most comprehensive and enlightening hours of the past year for me. The panel helped me realize that a PhD is most definitely in my future, and it also gave me the roadmap to how to get this degree. In short, I’ve learned so much more than I could have ever anticipated through my internship with the Henry’s Fork Foundation. I am so grateful for this intentional and supportive community, the mentorship I’ve received, and the life lessons I’ve acquired this summer. Thank you to the wonderful donors, scientists, and mentors that make this internship possible, and I hope to make it to the Henry’s Fork soon!

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