Summer in Bozeman

One of the many advantages to working in Bozeman for the summer is the plethora of activities available in the area—most of them outdoors.

We have several Farmers’ Markets, two of which I attended in the first week I’ve been home: the Saturday morning Gallatin Valley Farmers’ Market and the Tuesday evening Bogert Park Farmers’ Market. The Saturday market brought yummy breakfast crepes and fresh, local ingredients to make one of my favorite soups for dinner, Spicy Zuppa Toscana. My mom and I used this recipe, but triple the potatoes and kale. I also make sure that any meat I use is local, free range, and utterly devoid of any hormones, antibiotics, or other unhealthy (for people, animals, or Earth) additives.

Bozeman also has countless hiking trails in the area. All of the trails are stunning, and I will post photos from my hikes throughout the summer here. Today was the first hike beyond what’s within walking distance of my front door. It finally cooled off enough—to about 80 degrees—for a hike with some elevation gain, so we trekked up Drinking Horse Mountain. There’s a longer, more gradual way up and a shorter, steeper route—Coach Mitch would be proud I took the steep way, right?

Kthike

Along the way, we came across many photo-ops. I have put some of them on my hometown album linked above, but there was one that stood out most: a larval Spurge Hawkmoth (Hyles euphorbiae).

Catepillar

We discovered this little guy on our return hike down Drinking Horse Mountain. A little internet research helped identify him as a U.K. native moth commonly released as a biological control agent for Leafy Spurge—which happens to be the plant he’s munching on! Biological controls are controversial alternatives to herbicides or mechanical removal that would usually be applied to combat invasive species. The idea is to find a specialized species that will target only the invasive species of concern—great when it works, but dangerous when unintended consequences ensue. I’m not sure about the impact on the Leafy Spurge here, but sometimes biological controls turn out to be more generalist and target desirable species too. I love the idea of dealing with invasives without chemicals, but even with careful testing biological controls can be risky. Probably the best option is to not let invasives take over in the first place! (Easier said, of course, than done).

Needless to say, my first week home has be wonderful. My internship with Project WET is off to a great and exciting start, I get to spend time with family and friends, and I am surrounded by the beauty of my home state. More fun to come!

Advertisements

Settling In

Yesterday, I’ll admit, I drove the 5 miles across town to work. My excuses:

  1. my first day interning
  2. well over 80 degrees by 9am
  3. a hilly ride into town

Added up, well, this girl took her car. However, this morning I woke up less stressed about what would await me upon arriving to work and I hopped on my trusty bicycle and pedaled into the office instead. Although 7:30am was still too toasty for my taste, I was able to bike in workout clothes and change into work attire after my ride. The trip left me feeling energized and excited to make my bicycle—a.k.a. Shadow—my prime mode of transportation.

Today was another day full of new information and getting acquainted with the Project WET Foundation’s work and how I will fit in this summer.

I began my day researching studies to back up (or disprove) the statement, “When we educate children, we educate parents.” The idea that children take home the things they learn and in turn educate their parents is not a foreign one. However, it is also not well documented in scientific literature. This article in the Guardian, Green children re-educate their parents, discusses how many children in the United Kingdom go home from their Eco-Schools and end up introducing their parents to environmental practices ranging from recycling and reducing water use to using non-motor transportation whenever possible. The article talks about children’s ability to influence their parents in ways media and politicians cannot. This idea is actually documented quite well, but the more specific focus on child education’s influence on parents’ is not easy to find in scientific literature. This research question—Does educating children in fact educate their parents?—will be part of my focus and time during this internship.

Discover the Yellowstone River

After some time spent researching, I sat in on a staff meeting that left me feeling encouraged and excited. Against the scenic Montanan mountain view out the window, Molly updated the group on the status of Project WET’s latest children’s book, “Discover the Yellowstone River.” The 16-page booklet takes a water-science-based approach to teaching children about the Yellowstone River’s hydrology and its management challenges and opportunities. The draft Molly passed around was beautiful—visually and intellectually! Peter Grosshauser’s illustrations are stunning, as usual (he illustrates nearly all Project WET publications). What delighted me even more was the content.

I just finished a graduate course on River Restoration and learned that many people do not grasp (or want to acknowledge) that rivers are dynamic and tend to not stay in one channel. Evidence of managers historically overlooking this fact is littered across watersheds where endless effort and resources are spent trying to keep a river in a stationary channel, usually because something was built where the river now wants to go. It makes me wonder: what would river managers have done differently if they had encountered a book like “Discover the Yellowstone River” in their youth? Would the pages on river dynamics have influenced later decisions to develop in a floodplain? Would the page where children fill out their own hydrograph for the Yellowstone River have influenced their decision? I am truly thrilled there are materials like this out there capable of engaging children in active science-based learning. “Discover the Yellowstone River” is on track for publishing soon and will be available later this summer.

Cheers!

Day 1 Interning for Project WET

Wow! After Day 1 at the Project WET Foundation, I am even more excited for this summer. The day kicked off with introductions to the Project WET team and a great conversation with my internship supervisor Dennis Nelson, the President and CEO. He has many ideas for projects to work on throughout my time with the Foundation this summer that deal with topics ranging from research questions and publications to digitalization and funding. A later meeting with the rest of the Project WET team in the office expanded upon Dennis’s ideas. As I move forward and begin working on specific projects, I will write in more detail about each of them.

Discover Groundwater

My experience this summer will also tie nicely back to my undergraduate thesis—“Our Natural Family: A study of young children and how we connect with nature.”—which focused on early childhood environmental education. My thesis topic reflects my interest in the interface between natural science and human interactions with nature. Project WET’s emphasis on combining science method with water education provides a great opportunity to expand on my interests. The Foundation’s publications and workshops go beyond telling about water and water processes to provide tools that participators can use to learn through experience. Instead of simply defining groundwater, for instance, Project WET has a Battleship-like game where players blindly drill until they are able to locate and define a groundwater aquifer. Yes, I will be playing it at the first opportunity.

Bozeman Public Library

My first day concluded with a workshop on non-profit funding hosted by the Bozeman Public Library. Put on by the Foundation Center, the two-hour workshop was a tutorial on identifying grantmaking foundations whose funding objectives matching the objectives of your nonprofit. I had no idea how numerous and diverse nonprofit funding sources were! The Foundation Center’s online directory includes nine databases listing 2.4 million grants that date back to 2003. The idea is to provide access to the sources, amounts, fields, and locations of foundation grants on the premise that foundations’ giving will follow what they have given in the past.

Looking back on the day, there are a couple thoughts swirling around my mind:

  • Project WET is incredibly dynamic, working on a wide range of projects. This summer will be an exercise in prioritization!
  • I am grateful for Dennis and the rest of Project WET’s staff for welcoming me to the team for the summer. They emphasized making this summer as beneficial to my professional and intellectual development as possible in addition to contributing to Project WET$rsquo;s work.
  • Already I have met many interesting and genuine people, and there will be so much opportunity for continuing to make connections throughout the summer.
  • Project WET’s office is beautiful with amazing views of the Bridgers! What a blessing it is to be in Bozeman for the summer.

Summer Internship 2012

These posts are for recording my experience as an intern at the Project WET Foundation during summer 2012. Based out of Bozeman, MT, “the Project WET Foundation has dedicated itself to the mission of reaching children, parents, teachers and community members of the world with water education.” Beginning June 25th, I am working for 10-12 weeks out of the Bozeman office and anticipate being involved in the following operations throughout my time as an intern:

  • shadowing Project WET Foundation executives
  • participating in select Foundation department meetings and projects, such as Project WET International, Project WET USA, business/financials, communications, publications, and sales/marketing
  • contributing to the research and development of one or two publishing projects, such as Urban Waters Kids In Discovery series (KIDs) activity booklets
  • helping run workshops and events for children
  • working with staff in researching and writing grant applications

I am excited to expand my experience and leadership beyond the classroom, research arena, and basketball court.