Out West student blog

Almost Feels Like I'm in Ashton

Sydney Schmitter camping in Joshua Tree. Image credit: Sydney Schmitter

By Sydney Lee Schmitter '23
Hometown: San Diego, California
Major: Earth Systems
Education and Interpretive Center Intern, Henry's Fork Foundation

Why did you want to do this internship?

I wanted to intern at the Henry’s Fork Foundation this summer because I wanted experience working in a small non-profit where I could find mentorship and feel like a valued team member. I also wanted to work at an organization that valued stakeholder engagement and the collaborative management of a socio-ecological system! Lastly, I have a passion for farming and for fish, and HFF works perfectly at the intersection of these interests. 

How does your role support the host organization’s mission?

The Henry’s Fork Foundation (HFF) is the only organization whose sole purpose is to conserve, protect, and restore the unique fisheries, wildlife, and aesthetic qualities of the Henry’s Fork and its watershed. Supporting a next generation of river stewards is critical to the future of the Henry’s Fork, as well as communicating messages to the irrigators, anglers, scientists, donors, and other stakeholders that collaborate to conserve the Henry’s Fork. My role as the Education and Interpretive Center Intern this summer enables HFF to communicate with its stakeholders and build a membership of river stewards.

Hiking in Idyllwild on a weekend caping trip. Image credit: Sydney Schmitter
Describe one project you will be working on this summer. 

My independent project this summer is to commission at least two new exhibits for HFF’s Interpretive Center that align with HFF’s fundraising, informational, and educational goals. I’ve been having a lot of fun thinking of potential exhibit ideas, looking for current informational gaps in the existing Interpretive Center, and reaching out to museums across the country for inspiration. Current ideas for exhibits include an alternative reality watershed sandbox, an aquifer recharge model, and an interactive story map detailing HFF’s new South Fork Initiative. After modeling the final exhibits HFF is pursuing, I will commission new exhibits or create them myself!

How does this project relate to your studies and/or career goals?

I’m at a crossroads where I’m deciding if I want to pursue a career in the education and communications side of conservation, or if I want to pursue a PhD in an interdisciplinary environmental field. Gaining real-life experience in working on all sides of education at HFF--blogging and social media, planning a river cleanup, and curating exhibits--is giving me an excellent idea of what a future in this field looks like.

Watching the sunset from Grandview Beach in San Diego. Image credit: Sydney Schmitter
What do you like to do in your spare time?

I'm currently working remotely for HFF in my hometown of San Diego. In my spare time, I’ve been enjoying the outdoors and taking advantage of San Diego’s great weather. I’m at the beach more days than not, whether on walks, watching the sunset, or going for a quick swim. With California loosening COVID-19 restrictions, I’ve been camping and fishing with friends on the weekends and playing a lot of pickleball and tennis!




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