Maverick Berglund '19

Nature Conservancy at Flat Ranch Internship

After the four-hour drive from Utah, the snow in the mountains was the first thing I noticed; a welcome sight coming from the horrendous heat all too common of Western-Virginia in May. And thus the Summer's adventures as an intern with the Henry's Fork Foundation, on and around Henry's Fork of the Snake River near Yellowstone, began. The first days consisted of digging holes for fencing and flinching every time I heard the slightest of sounds; I was positive it was a bear coming for me and not just Jake, the bearded dog, coming to check up.

Cutting willows to build a beaver dam is fun; cutting willows in a frigid downpour, is not. Conversely, cutting willows with the sun beating down on you is an activity that could use some enhancement although it really allows you to appreciate the fact you are not in Virginia. Layers are of the utmost importance during Rocky Mountain summers, something I learned quickly. Many a day I awoke to freezing mornings only to be thankful for short sleeve shirts and a stray cloud by noon; while some days I awoke to frigid temperatures accompanied by a mid-day June snow flurry.

When the big one hits, I will be prepared; whether it be corralling abandoned live stock or grabbing the lawn chairs to get a front row seat for the super caldera. Building fence, catching fish, and avoiding bears (as I still have four full canisters of bear spray) are just a few of the skills I acquired over the Summer (tying knots and starting signal fires are next on the to-do list). One the most valuable piece of information I gathered from the summer is that I now know I want to own a chainsaw because they are pretty sweet.

A Summer on the Henry's Fork is pretty hard to beat. While friends from university were slaving away at I-banking desk jobs, I was enjoying leisurely afternoons cruising around Yellowstone or questioning the legality of starting a bush fire to clear a path of willows. This Summer, I have seen more geysers erupt than most will see in their life, acquired an impeccable farmer's tan, and have taken enough pictures to change my desktop background every day for some time to come.

As the summer wraps up I cannot help but reflect on what an incredible opportunity it has been to live in one of the most beautiful and ecologically diverse places in the world. I have met incredible people, one of whom I worked for, and built a strong household friendship that is sure to last longer than our poorly constructed grazing enclosures.

A. Paul Knight Internship Program in Conservation at The Nature Conservancy -- Flat Ranch
For other opportunities, view the Geology Department's Summer Research and Internships page