Internship Spotlight: Field Intern at Rocky Mountain Conservancy

Internship Spotlight: Field Intern at Rocky Mountain Conservancy

Meet Sarah Sneath ’19. She’s outdoorsy. Adventurous. Travel-prone. And she likes to put herself out there – literally on the edge.

This summer, after graduating from the College, the geology major from China by way of Columbia, South Carolina, spent a month and a half as a field intern with the Rocky Mountain Conservancy (RMC) in western Colorado.

The College Today caught up with Sneath to find out what she learned and did during this field internship and how she hopes that experience will impact her career path.

What motivated you to do an internship with the Rocky Mountain Conservancy?

I have a friend who had previously worked for the RMC and had only positive, glowing things to say about her experience. Because I’ve always been interested in working in the outdoors in some capacity, this position was especially intriguing to me. For me, learning how to preserve and protect our public lands through this internship has been both rewarding and challenging. Actually, it’s been one of the best summers I’ve ever had!

Sarah Sneath explores parts of the Rocky Mountains.

Sarah Sneath explores parts of the Rocky Mountains.

What sort of duties did you have this summer?

Interns with RMC are divided into six different crews that focus on different aspects of conservation in different areas of Colorado. The group I was a part of was assigned to the northern wilderness area of the state. My coworkers and I spent our weeks backpacking and fixing hiking trails by building new tread (hiking paths), maintaining drains and sawing fallen trees from the trail. It was pretty physical stuff all the time.

How did you put what you learned in the classroom to use during the internship?

Yes. Definitely. Much of the focus of my work during this internship was maintaining sustainable hiking trails. In short, this usually means rebuilding a trail in a way that keeps the rainfall runoff from damaging it. Water is a geological force of nature that can easily build or destroy most things. In this case, it can easily erode hiking trails and that results in the need for constant repair. Understanding the effects of water was a major focus during my time as a geology major at the College, and as an intern at RMC, I was able to use my understanding of water’s physical properties to construct sustainable drains. For me, it was rad to see how aspects of the internship and my prior geology knowledge intertwined.

Why did you choose to major in geology?

I’ve always been interested in the sciences and how I can use that as motivation to help others who are less fortunate than myself. Understanding our relationship with the outside world is paramount to that goal, so geology seemed like a perfect fit.

Hydrology is an area of geology that I’m especially passionate about. My classes in this specific area have been the most meaningful and impactful to my growth as a global citizen. I’m proud to have studied under such amazing professors in a special department and I hope more students join the major – it will lead you to amazing experiences like my internship!

So, what will you do now that this internship has concluded?

My plans are to get a master’s degree in hydrology, but right now I’m taking a gap year and exploring different internships where I can be outside in the mountains. I see this internship as a stepping stone for my further understanding of our public lands and my role in preserving them. Also, this was my first experience learning in the field with a nonprofit organization. I’m interested in working for a nonprofit as a future goal, so seeing how such an organization operates as a whole has been very valuable for me.