Out West student blog

Diving In

Zack enjoying a spring day at Lake Nockamixon, Pennsylvania. (Photo credit: Carter Pason)

By Zack Boyd '21
Hometown: Kintnersville, PA
Major: Earth Systems
Conservation Intern, Henry's Fork Foundation

Why did you want to do this internship?

This internship combines two of my passions: science communication and conservation in rural areas. Henry's Fork Foundation (HFF) works in a relatively remote area of Idaho near Yellowstone National Park, and often needs to work with a wide variety of people to maintain the health of the Henry's Fork of the Snake River. I think the ways that we communicate about the environment, especially in rural communities like the one where I grew up, rely on phrasing and communication more than we might think. By interning with HFF, I hope to develop as a more conscious environmental communicator in different mediums directed toward different groups.

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

Day to day, I will be producing content for HFF's blog and social media pages, while also writing articles for the monthly newsletter, designing webpages for the photo contest, and doing other communications work as needed. As time goes on, I will be working on graphic design for publications and a retrospective study of HFF's previous projects. The one thing all of this has in common is taking the actions and goals of HFF (which are essentially to keep the Henry's Fork River as healthy as possible) and communicating them to the donors, stakeholders, anglers, and scientists who enable HFF's work to exist in the first place.

Describe at least one project you will be working on this summer.

My independent project this summer is to compile a database of HFF's former conservation projects, and ultimately to make recommendations on which projects should be revisited in the future. It is a bit of a challenge because I don't have access to any paper records, which are stored in Ashton, Idaho and go back to HFF's founding in 1984; the online records only go back about ten years. However, there are still a few dozen projects to evaluate, from fencing projects to protect stream banks to the "Farms and Fish" program that works with local farmers to sustainably manage limited water resources. I also plan to interview long-time employees of HFF to get a better idea of the history of the organization before 2010.

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

I am enrolling in the Environmental Communication MA program this fall, and I hope to focus on communication in rural areas. Ultimately, I hope to find a career where I can write and organize around ecological issues in rural/agricultural communities. I think this internship is a perfect way to learn how to communicate between scientific, agricultural, and recreational circles.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I love hiking and getting outside more than anything! Even though I can't leave the house too often due to quarantine, I'm still keeping myself entertained by reading and playing guitar. Hopefully, I'll get back into running this summer, but I've been saying that for the last two years.


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