Hometown: Columbia, Missouri
Aquatics Resources Conservation Intern, Henry's Fork Foundation
Why did you want to do this internship?
I wanted to be in a completely different environment than at home and at school. Something about rural America just really brings out my adventurous side and even three weeks in, there’s so much to learn about the people, the landscape, and how to throw a proper cast. Professionally speaking, I knew that Henry's Fork Foundation would expose me to work that puts together a lot of my interests— agriculture, water conservation, communications— and in a small NGO, everyone is expected to contribute towards projects that their constituency depends on. It was exciting to think about doing work I would enjoy and know to be significant for the foundation.
How does your role support the host organization's mission?
Along with their core programmatic work that strives to protect aquatic health through biological research and stewardship, Henry’s Fork Foundation takes education in their community very seriously. Being a part of the internship team means I not only am supporting their scientific efforts but also continuously learning how to carry forward their mission to protect water resources for future generations.
How would you describe one of the projects you will be working on this summer?
My main project this summer is to create a statistical analysis on the economic impact of second homes in the Eastern Idaho region using property taxes, visitor spending, etc. in order to quantify the impact second homeowners have on the local economy. In addition, I am working with the office’s software technicians to build and install hardware along Henry’s Fork that will allow the foundation to wirelessly transmit water quality data from their network of sondes (underwater probes that measure pH, turbidity, and conductivity). On the weekends, all the interns take turns conducting recreational surveys.
Map of the Henry's Fork Foundation sonde system that collects water quality data (source)
How does this project relate to your studies and/or career goals?
As a potential Earth Systems major, I am interested in doing what is by nature very interdisciplinary work. It is not surprising that a wide breadth of expertise is necessary to do a day's work as an intern at Henry's Fork. From knowing how to conduct a non-biased survey and perform lab work with water samples to using heavy tools to fix a pasture fence, I am getting a lot of experience that jobs in the Earth Science field require. I hope by the end of my time here I am able to add useful skills to my tool belt, and have a better sense of what interests me when it comes to resource conservation and management.
Has anything surprised you about the work, the organization, or the environment?
Some folks I have met describe Idaho as a “land where people don't like rules.” Not to mention the interesting driving etiquette, people don’t take kindly to being told what to do, especially when it's the government. Larger organizations come to HFF, due to its strong scientific reputation in the Eastern Idaho community, for their partnership with studies they would like to conduct. There is a strong sense of loyalty and willingness to support one another here, and for that I have great respect.
Ilinca Popescu crossing Warm River to put back a sonde (photo credit: Kamberlee Allison)
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