My time at KWF started with the ritual Costco trip and then the long ride from Anchorage to Soldotna. Though that memory is a blur for me at this point, I remember staring out the window in awe as the Chugach mountains and Kenai River flashed in the window of the Red Tacoma. My experience with the Stream Watch program and the Kenai Watershed Forum was extremely eye-opening and opened the door for many amazing adventures and career opportunities.
The most memorable day for me was our second day in Alaska, when Matt, Brandon, and I went to the Russian River campground and put up habitat fencing along the river. It was a beautiful day, with blue skies, snow still on the mountains, and the campground deserted. Meeting everyone in the Pink Salmon parking area, I knew that everyone had a deep, deep love for the river and the fish that call the river home, and I knew I was in good hands.
The rest of the summer has been an absolute blast. Every day at work was something new and exciting, from working with our amazing, dedicated volunteers, to restoring the bank of Soldotna Creek. I loved working with the summer camp, trapping baby salmon to discover unmapped salmon habitat, working with the Forest Service at the Russian River, and connecting with new, amazing people every day. Stream Watch gives you the opportunity to meet every kind of person who comes to enjoy the river, including anglers, hikers, bear researchers, photographers, hunters, and guides. The people I’ve met through this internship are some of the most inspiring I have ever met. This internship allowed me to get a fuller picture of Alaska and the Kenai Peninsula than I could have at any other organization. I engaged with all sorts of stakeholders and user groups to work out how to best manage the river, connected with people to let them know the regulations, and educated visitors on the importance of healthy rivers. Stream Watch provides an invaluable service, connecting people with the land and river through stewardship and volunteering for the good of the ecosystem. I’m extremely proud to have been part of Stream Watch and of the work we did for the peninsula! The difference that Stream Watch makes is truly inspiring. It is a perfect example of what can come from people who care for and are concerned about the health of a river, and I hope to see more like Stream Watch elsewhere in the future.
In my time off, I backpacked from Hope to Cooper Landing (40 miles!), hiked to an abandoned military fort on Resurrection Bay (Caines Head), crossed a glacial outflow on a hand tram (Grewingk Glacier), and caught sockeye salmon out of the Russian River, among many, many other hijinks. Everyone at KWF was happy to assist in planning trips, giving advice, and even lending equipment. I’ve been extremely lucky to work somewhere that cares so much for all of their employees and seasonal staff, and I would definitely love to come back to the peninsula and to KWF.