Goodbye, Ashton

Tuesday, July 5, 2016 - 2:30pm


Chi Nguyen

Goodbye, Ashton


    Seven weeks flew by so fast that I did not realize my time to leave Ashton was fast approaching. Last Monday, I woke up naturally to the streaming sunlight from the window, and realized it was my final week working in the office. It truly felt like waking up from a really, really great dream. A dream of knowledge, experiences, friendships, scenic nature and the West.

    The past few weeks had been extremely hectic in the office, preparing for the Henry’s Fork Days, our biggest fundraising event of the year. With nearly 600 people expected to come to this event, we wanted nothing short of a perfectly exciting and fruitful night for everyone. We paid close attention to every detail, from the setup of the silent auction to the decoration of the tables. The live auction was incredibly amazing to watch, as the auctioneer was very lively (it was amazing how fast he could talk) and participants were very eager to join. I truly hope that with all the effort that Kristen, Paige, Julie and everyone else in the office put into preparing for the event, we would have a great fundraising turnout this year.

    The Buffalo Fish Ladder project was officially concluded a few weeks ago for the 2016 Spring season. While the fish ladder would continue to be of used to fish travelling through the river to spawn, we wrapped up the monitoring process for this season. With the data that Christina and the interns helped collect, we can construct statistical analysis on the effective use of the Ladder to the trout, and other modelling analysis. The fish ladder was the very first thing that I joined this summer, and it proved to be one of the best fieldwork experiences I have ever had.

    I continued to join the water monitoring trips to various sonde and sampling locations across the watershed. We have installed new sondes at different locations such as Warm River, Fall River and the Buffalo Fish Ladder, which would help with closer monitoring of different sections of the watershed. Jack, Reid, Justin and I, have learned to be very efficient in this field work to minimize time while still collecting good water samples and monitoring data from the sondes. We also learnt to be adaptive and flexible in dealing with unexpected situations that required making decisions and choices, such as when sondes were low on battery or in need of calibration. I think that those were one of the best skills I was able to gain this summer, being flexible and ready to deal with difficulties in the field.

    The creel and economic surveys, conducted mostly by Reid and I, were ongoing. Although we had little luck encountering anglers so far, all fishermen we interviewed so far had been very willing to participate in both the creel and economic surveys, assisting us with collecting high-quality data. As July was fast approaching, the number of anglers fishing in the Teton River area was expected to increase, so hopefully we would be able to encounter more people and collect more high-quality data. Unfortunately for me, I would be working remotely for the rest of the internship and would miss the opportunity to interact with anglers in this survey. Reid would surely be able to carry out the surveys perfectly, and I wish him the best of luck!

    My video project has been going on incredibly well, as I was able to complete filming before leaving Ashton. With more than 100 video footages on my computer right now, ready to be edited and put together, I am excited to show everyone my incredible time at Ashton, working on the Henry’s Fork. With the theme on “What brings you to fish in the Henry’s Fork?”, the video focused on different aspects of the Henry’s Fork that makes it world-class trout fishing river, such as rainbow trout, fly hatches, water quality and scenic nature. I hope to convey what anglers from all over the world appreciate about the Henry’s Fork.

    Before leaving Ashton last Saturday, Christina, Justin and I went on a hike to Mount Jefferson along the Sawtell trail in Island Park (because no one is leaving this area without one last hike!). On top of trail, I looked down upon the place I have called home for the past two months, seeing peaks of the Grand Teton, the river and part of Yellowstone stretching in front of me. It was, in every single way, breathtaking. I would not be able to ever forget what I have seen, done and experienced in this stretch of land, on this part of the country. It will remain a lifelong experience, with all the knowledge and skills I am able to gain working alongside the HFF staff members and other interns. Tenacity, passion, attention, critical thinking, flexibility and creativity, I have learned all of those during my time in Ashton as an HFF intern, and will follow me through my academic journey at Colgate, my future career path and beyond. I sent my gratitude to Colgate University, the Department of Environmental Studies and its generous donor, the Henry’s Fork Foundation and everyone I’ve met during my time in Ashton, for allowing me the privilege of this opportunity to live and learn, and for my utmost exciting time in a place I have never been to before. Farewell to Ashton, ‘till we meet again!