This summer, Samuel Rhodes, a forest recreation management senior, served as a developed recreation technician for the U.S. Forest Service’s Spotted Bear Ranger District in Montana’s Flathead National Forest. His 11-week internship, directed by the Student Conservation Association (SCA), placed Rhodes near the boundary of the Bob Marshall Wilderness, one of the most remote areas in the lower 48 states.
What where your duties as an intern?
My official title was “developed recreation technician.” Every day I did something different, but my official job responsibilities were management of SPRD’s frontcountry sites. This is composed of over 15 developed recreation areas which included boat launches, dispersed and developed campsites, public pit toilets, outfitter camps and trailheads. I was charged with cleaning facilities, as well as completing campsite restoration work (cleaning fire rings, making repairs to kiosks, building new campground features etc.) In addition to all of this, I oftentimes was called to do other tasks such as shuttle personnel to trailheads, as well as conduct pick-ups for backcountry crews. I also assisted with stock loading and unloading and helped with some packing for backcountry camps. Occasionally I would be allowed to assist with other programs. I helped with trails maintenance, river patrol and fire management. I also built a map using GIS mapping for a campground.
How has this experience been beneficial to your undergraduate career?
As I prepare to take on the challenge of *Forest Resource Management, or, as the students call it, “plans,” I feel as if I am very well equipped to deal with recreation management challenges that could be thrown at me throughout the fall semester. I also noticed that some of the things I learned this summer built upon recreation and human dimension curricula I was taught over the past three years, and this summer was an excellent opportunity to reinforce those lessons. As I prepare to embark upon graduate school, I feel that this internship has given me a new perspective of what is involved in developed recreation site and facility management, and I am excited to put my new skills to the test as I tackle problems throughout my graduate studies.
*Forest Resource Management is the capstone course of the SFA forestry program.
What was your favorite part of the internship?
To be honest, the remote location. SBRD is over 50 miles south of Hungry Horse, Montana, which equates to nearly two hours down a dirt road near the cusp of the iconic Bob Marshall Wilderness, one of the most remote areas in the lower 48 states. The ranger station itself is a lonely little compound that has no Wi-Fi, no internet (outside of government computers), and overall, no connection to technological life. The solitude, quiet and wildness were all things I cherished this summer, and although I remained in the frontcountry for my work, I still felt like I was in wilderness every day. The South Fork of the Flathead River was outside my window, and every morning I woke up to eagles and osprey that were hunting for fish overhead. Wolf howls serenaded me in the evening as the sun set gently over the Swan Mountain Range and Loons cooed as I cleaned up campsites along the Hungry Horse Reservoir. I may have not been paid this summer, but I definitely came home richer.