Agriculture and Irrigation Intern
This internship is only open to students who currently attend a land grant university
Organization: Henry’s Fork Foundation
The Henry’s Fork Foundation is a nonprofit organization that works to conserve, protect, and restore the unique fisheries, wildlife, and water resources of the Henry’s Fork Watershed. HFF uses a collaborative, science-based approach to achieve its mission and works closely with water users, hydroelectric power companies, government agencies, and other nonprofit groups.
Paid internship, $4500 for the equivalent of 10 weeks full-time work.
COVID-19 Contingency Plan
We anticipate being able to offer an in-person internship in Ashton, Idaho. During the 2020 season we learned how to safely conduct our business within the environment of COVID-19, and we plan to apply that learning and additional information that will be gained over the coming months to conduct 2021 field-season work safely. As a contingency, we have structured the internship to be conducted as a remote virtual experience if necessary.
Rob Van Kirk, firstname.lastname@example.org
Rob Van Kirk joined the Foundation as a senior scientist in 2012. Rob has fished the river since 1977, and helped define HFF’s work as the Foundation’s first research director from 1994 to 1998 before pursuing an academic career. Rob grew up in Arcata, California and received a B.A. and M.S. from Humboldt University. He holds a Ph.D in mathematics from the University of Utah, where he focused on mathematical modeling of fish and wildlife populations. He is a past recipient of HFF’s Conservation Award and the Idaho Chapter of the American Fisheries Society’s Native Fish Conservationist of the Year Award.
Decades of research conducted by the Henry’s Fork Foundation and its partners have clearly shown that the health of trout populations and quality of fishing throughout the watershed depend most strongly on water quality and water quantity. In turn, those factors are determined largely by management of Island Park Reservoir, the largest irrigation storage reservoir in the watershed. We have learned that maximizing the amount of water in the reservoir year-round is the single most effective way for HFF to meet its mission of conserving and maintaining high-quality fisheries in the watershed.
The sole purpose of releasing water from Island Park Reservoir is to satisfy irrigation demand within the Henry’s Fork watershed. The Henry’s Fork Foundation actively contracts with irrigators to reduce demand for irrigation water within the watershed during the period of reservoir draft, usually early July through mid-September. The particular demand-reduction strategies and nature of the contracts are constantly evolving. In the summer of 2020 it became apparent that refinement of these strategies could greatly benefit from increased understanding of relationships among crop-type distributions, crop maturity dates, and weather patterns over time. The Agriculture and Irrigation Intern will work primarily on quantifying these relationships.
The Agriculture and Irrigation intern will also be available to assist with other work of the Henry’s Fork Foundation. These activities may vary from assisting with fencing to protect riparian areas to performing field work related to other projects, alongside Foundation researchers and/or other interns.
The primary focus of the Agricultural and Irrigation Intern will be Spatial and Temporal Analysis of Weather and Cropping Patterns in the Agricultural Areas of the Henry’s Fork Watershed. The intern will be mentored by Landowner Outreach Supervisor Bryce Contor on literature search, data acquisition and Geographic Information System (GIS) analysis. Dr. Rob Van Kirk, Senior Scientist, will guide statistical analysis. This work should occupy one-half to two-thirds of the intern’s time during the course of the internship. Additional details are provided below.
We have identified primary sources of crop-type, soils, precipitation and weather data. The intern will perform an Internet-based literature search focused on two areas:
· Additional data sources that may allow refinement of understanding of local crop-maturity dates;
· Methodology for spatial interpolation of weather data.
GIS Mapping and Analysis
Using soil-type, cropping and other data already identified, the intern will prepare a series of maps to illustrate the spatial relationships between soil type, elevation, precipitation, water-right status and general crop rotation. This is to be a one-off analysis and mapping exercise, not a GIS-modeling effort or construction of a decision-support tool or similar. Depending on what is learned in the literature search, this work may incorporate spatial interpolation of weather data.
Analysis of Temporal Trends
Using annual summary data from the GIS analysis, and annual weather data from already-identified sources, the intern will explore statistical relationships among water-supply and climate variables and observed crop mix. Depending on what is learned in the literature search, this work may incorporate crop-maturity information.
Contingency for Virtual Internship
One of the primary data sources to be used is the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) crop-type data product, which is developed by spectral analysis of remotely-sensed data. A number of specialty crops in the Henry’s Fork Foundation are not currently classified within this system. The current plan is for the intern to perform field work to identify and map parcels with specialty crops, to see how these parcels will be classified in the 2021 USDA data expected to be released in early 2022.
If the internship must be a virtual internship conducted remotely, this activity will be replaced by a literature search focused on the question of downwind persistence of temperature and/or humidity changes induced by the movement of an air mass across irrigated parcels.
- Interest in watershed management and conservation from the perspective of a non-profit organization
- Basic background in environmental science or related fields
- Good written and oral communication skills
- Ability to work independently on some tasks and as a member of team on others
- Good time management skills
- Flexibility in work assignments
- Ability to share living space with four or five other interns
- Valid driver’s license
- Ability to swim and work comfortably outdoors in and around water in a variety of weather
- Basic knowledge of crop production, obtained via experience or coursework
- Basic coursework in statistics, hydrology, and/or meteorology
- Coursework or practical experience with Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
What to Expect During the Internship
The 3,200-square mile Henry’s Fork watershed lies at the headwaters of the Snake River in eastern Idaho and western Wyoming. The Continental Divide, Yellowstone Plateau, and Teton Range form the watershed’s northern and eastern boundaries. Elevations range from 4,300 feet above sea level at the bottom of the watershed to over 10,000 feet along the Teton crest. Irrigated farms of potatoes, grains, and hay dominate land use in the lower half of the watershed. At higher elevations, National Forest and other public lands provide outstanding outdoor recreation, including hiking, climbing, camping, fishing, hunting, cycling, and snow sports. The watershed is very rural, with a total population of around 70,000 people. Agriculture and tourism are the largest economic sectors; HFF’s work seeks to maintain a balance between water use for agriculture and streamflow to support world-class fishing and related ecological resources.
All interns from out of the Henry’s Fork area will live in a co-ed dorm space at HFF’s campus in Ashton, a farming community of 1,000 people. The campus is housed in Ashton’s old community hospital, which was completely refurbished in 2017 to house HFF’s offices, laboratory, interpretive center, and intern/graduate student housing. The dorm space consists of two bunk rooms, two large bathroom/shower facilities, a large open kitchen, laundry facilities, and a living room. Bunk rooms and bathrooms will be gender-separated, but all other living space is shared. Housing, including linens and all kitchen implements, is provided by HFF, but interns are responsible for their own meals. If any intern would like to live in separate housing, it is their responsibility to find and pay for separate housing arrangements before the internship begins. They will also be responsible for driving to and from HFF in their own vehicle without fuel reimbursement.
Other than businesses oriented primarily toward tourism and agriculture (auto parts and repair, hardware, etc.), services in Ashton are limited to a small health clinic and pharmacy, one grocery store, a dollar store, and five small eating establishments (Mexican, three traditional American diners/drive-ins, and a pizza/sandwich shop). The grocery store is well stocked for a small town but does not carry much in the way of organic and natural foods and is difficult to access from HFF’s campus because of a busy highway crossing with no stoplight or pedestrian facilities. The nearest large supermarkets, Walmart, drug stores, and other business are located in Rexburg, about 25 miles southwest of Ashton. There are a few restaurants with broader menu options located in the tourist area of Island Park, 20-30 miles north of Ashton. The closest natural-food stores and restaurants, “finer” dining establishments, and “night life” (e.g., weekly outdoor concerts) are located in Teton Valley, 40-50 miles southeast of Ashton. The closest regional airport is located in Idaho Falls 53 miles southwest of Ashton. The closest international airport is located in Salt Lake City (SLC) 220 miles south of Ashton. The Salt Lake Express shuttle runs from the airport Salt Lake City International Airport to Rexburg several times a day, but should be booked in advance.
The west entrance to Yellowstone National Park is a one-hour drive from Ashton, and Jackson, Wyoming is about a 90-minute drive. The best climbing and hiking opportunities are 45-60 minutes from Ashton, although outstanding fly fishing can be found 5 minutes away from the campus. An out-of-state fishing license costs $98. Some of HFF’s boats and rafts are available for intern recreational use after hours and on weekends, when not being used for HFF’s field work. HFF provides company vehicles for work but does not provide vehicles for interns to use on their personal time. Although not required, a personal vehicle is strongly recommended to allow full enjoyment of the area’s recreational opportunities. Interns without vehicles must rely on those with vehicles for transportation to and from shopping and activities.
The Work Schedule
HFF is committed to supporting a diverse and inclusive workplace and to promoting careers in the environmental and natural-resource sciences among groups underrepresented in these professions. Thus, we will make every effort to adjust assignments to accommodate strong applicants who may initially be uncomfortable with the work requirements described below. However, these adjustments are much easier to make during the recruiting process rather than after interns arrive for the summer, which is why we request that applicants contact us with questions before applying.
Interns are expected to work 40 hours per week, on average. Work weeks start with mandatory staff meeting at 9:00 a.m. on Monday. The other mandatory weekly event for interns is seminar, held from 4:00-5:00 p.m. on Tuesday afternoons. For additional information on HFF’s Summer Seminar Series and what they entail, please visit https://henrysfork.org/intern-summer-seminar-series. For the first two-three weeks of the internship, expect to work more than 40 hours, including some evenings and weekends. These weeks will be filled with orientation and training events—including CPR and first aid for those not currently certified—and with Henry’s Fork Days, a week of HFF’s most important outreach and fundraising events. During that week, June 14th – 19th, all interns will be expected to assist the fundraising and event team with no fewer than three events, including a donor reception, HFF’s annual fisherman’s breakfast and membership meeting, and a fundraising dinner and auction on Saturday the 19th attended by 600 of HFF’s most dedicated supporters. Work days during these first few weeks of the internship can begin as early as 6:30 a.m. and end as late as 10:30 p.m. Interns will be given extra time off around July 4 to compensate for the additional work time. Other than June 19th, weekend work will be rare, but it may be necessary to staff the interpretive center and accommodate availability of volunteers and shared equipment, vehicles, or lab space. During the first few weeks, all interns will also participate in educational short courses focused on hydrology and water rights, data analysis and statistics, and communications.
After the business of the first few weeks (and it is equally busy for staff), interns will settle into a weekly routine of field, laboratory, and office work, with individual schedules dependent on the particular internship position. All internships will require field work, which can vary between 25% and 80% of the intern’s work hours. Field work occasionally begins as early as 7:00 a.m. All field work will require driving to/from field sites, usually 20-45 miles one way. Some field work will be done in teams with the intern’s mentor and possibly other interns, staff or volunteers, while other tasks will require the intern to work alone in remote, rural settings. If you think you will not be comfortable working alone, please request more information about the particular internship(s) of interest to you before you apply.
Depending on the internship position, field work could include conducting experiments in farm fields, measuring various ecological and physical parameters in the river, and maintaining fences to keep livestock away from streambanks. Field and laboratory work will include use of expensive high-technology equipment as well as boats, rafts, and other standard outdoor equipment and clothing. Field work will be done in all types of weather, aside from lightning and severe thunderstorms. In June, temperatures can be below freezing, and snow is possible at high elevations. During the rest of the summer, temperatures range from 40 degrees to 90 degrees, sometimes spanning that range in a single day. Expect wind, low humidity, and bright sun, all of which add to the physical stress of working at high elevations, especially for those not accustomed to the climate and altitude of the arid western U.S. At the same time, afternoon thunderstorms are possible on any given day, usually producing some combination of strong winds, heavy rain, hail, dangerous lightning, and sudden temperature drops of up to 40 degrees. Orientation and training will cover procedures for conduct under these conditions. If you have questions about field work and physical requirements of a particular internship, please request more information before you apply.
As a Henry’s Fork Foundation intern you must assist with fundraising and member events, education, outreach and other projects as needed, including water quality monitoring, field work in hydrology and stream ecology, maintaining fish passage facilities, installing/maintaining livestock fences, and staffing HFF’s interpretive center. Occasional evening and weekend work will be required on these tasks. Interns will contribute to the HFF intern blog where they will provide a weekly update on their work to our membership. Early in the internship, interns will select a topic for his/her seminar presentation, within the scope of the independent project of their internship. The intern will prepare to present on this topic in a seminar session structured like a professional conference, with a 15-minute presentation followed by a 5-minute period for questions. This seminar session will be scheduled near the end of the internship period.
You can apply for this internship through joinhandshake.com, or by sending a cover letter, a resume with two professional references, and a copy of your academic transcript to Kamberlee Allison at email@example.com. Application deadline is March 1, 2021.
You can also contact Ms. Allison for more information about the internship.
To learn more about the HFF and the work we do, please explore the following links.
Henrys Fork Foundation website: henrysfork.org and HFF Blog: http://henrysfork.org/blog