Aren't We Lucky?

Monday, July 22, 2019 - 3:03pm


Natalie Pontikes

    My summer with HFF is halfway through, and it is tough to write a blog post on my experience that doesn’t revolve around how thankful I am to be out here with the foundation for the summer. The value of expressing gratitude has been instilled strongly in me as a result of spending so many life changing summers attending and working at a summer camp in Wyoming surrounded by humbling scenery. At camp, campers and staff members often exclaimed, “aren't we lucky?”

    Each day of coming into work this summer, I have felt like the luckiest girl in the world. I often question whether or not my job actually feels like work. From tagging along with other HFF team members to snap shots of them while they fish to venturing to Harriman State Park at sunset to capture shaded silhouettes of fly fishermen, my work truly feels too fun to be “real work.” I still feel so fortunate to have been given the opportunity to participate in such a well put together and worthwhile internship program. I really love how this program has pushed me to work independently while also providing me with the chance to learn from so many knowledgable individuals on the HFF team.


My work entails producing photographs that represent various projects, plans, and pieces of news from the foundation. Every week holds new experiences for me as I partner up with different HFF team members in the field. It is a great challenge for me to be tasked with taking photos that represent the research that is being conducted. I love the task of trying to “tell a story” with my photographs, as they are each used to communicate information with the HFF community. Fly fishing and trout photographs have been my favorite to take this summer, unsurprisingly.

    Because of the incredible landscape and endless recreational opportunities this region holds, we interns feel pressure to make the most of every minute of our free time. Our list of potential trips grows longer as our weeks left grow shorter -- not the worst problem we could have, I’ll admit! So far, several trips into the Tetons and Yellowstone have been completed, with a Glacier National Park trip in the works. Interns have been staying quite busy, cramming plans into every ounce of free time we have. Washington and Lee intern Bella Fucigna and Stanford intern Ilinca Popescu make bi-weekly trips to Driggs to visit the climbing gym, and Farms and Fish intern Caryn Dawson scouts out local rodeos and farmers markets to visit in her free evenings. BYU intern Amber Roseberry, although familiar with the area having grown up in Ashton, still makes great use of her free time, bridge-jumping locally and attending concerts in Jackson. Colgate intern Ashly Loibman and I, self proclaimed foodies, have been visiting local restaurants, trying to hit every essential diner, milkshake bar, and Mexican restaurant we can before our time in Ashton runs out.

    My goals for this summer have been over-zealous to say the least. While living in a world-class fishing region for the summer, fly fishing has of course been one of my first priorities in free evenings. In addition to fishing I have been focusing on distance running, with a marathon quickly approaching in early fall. The Ashton to Tetonia trail and the North Fremont High School track have become second homes to me this summer as I dedicate hours to my increasing mileage. I am trying my best to take advantage of the elevation that surrounds me, with ambitious hikes such as Table Mountain, Mount Borah, and Middle Teton on my radar. As an artist and photographer, I additionally find myself endlessly inspired my the scenery and wildlife that surround me and I have been finding it difficult to ever put my camera down. I recently spent a week with my head burried in acrylic paints and brushes after being so inspired by trout. In all honesty, one of the only things causing me stress this summer is trying to figure out how to fit all of my fun into it. Again, a dilemma I am quite thankful for. 

The final, and most recent, goal of mine for the summer is to stop, breathe, look around, and give thanks that I am out here doing something I love and care about. It is easy to over plan and try to squeeze everything that I want to do into my free weekends. It is good to remind myself to take things one day at a time and simply be grateful to be here. With my final year of college out east approaching in four short weeks, I am ready to soak in every last minute of my time on the Henry's Fork.


Photographs included are shots I have taken in the field, fishing in the evenings, and art I have made in spare time.