Diverse experiences and teams define federal and state agency internship programs

Colorado State University partnerships with local state and federal agencies offered students a chance to find mentorship and develop teamwork whilst exploring future career options.

CSU internship programs with the Colorado State Forest Service (CSFS) and USDA Forest Service continued for the second and third year respectively this past summer. Both programs provided 13 undergraduate students with industry trainings and certifications, and a new suite of skills that contributed to the teams they were part of.

Colorado State Forest Service Internship

CSFS is a service and outreach agency of the Warner College of Natural Resources. It provides stewardship for state and private lands from 19 different field offices across Colorado. Projects for eight interns included forest inventories, fire hazard assessments, GIS mapping, urban and community forestry, and greenhouse operations.

Junior Natalie McNees is studying both natural resources management and forestry. She worked out of the Gunnison Field Office conducting forest inventories and marking timber sale units. Early in the summer, she and her team cruised timber for one of the largest timber sales in Colorado. They completed the project early, and McNees described the extra opportunities she was given.

CSU student in a forest

I worked with other people and agencies as well. I went out with other staff members who worked with private landowners. I saw how management plans are implemented and how to treat for insect outbreaks and fuels treatments. When there was no field work for me to do at CSFS, I worked with the USDA Forest Service timber crew in Gunnison. We completed planting inspections, individual tree marking, and mistletoe sanitation.

It was a great learning experience being able to work with both the Colorado State Forest Service and the United States Forest Service. I gained valuable work experience, furthered my knowledge of forestry, learned how to work with private landowners and people who don’t know much about forestry, and did it all in one of the prettiest places in Colorado.                                                                                                                                        

– Natalie McNees

2019 CSFS Interns:

Paul Gillett – Forestry
Andrew Lawfield – Forestry
Faryn Klebe – Forestry
Sarah Osborne – Ecosystem Science and Sustainability

Cody Holt – Forestry
Salina Carani – Natural Resources Management
Cam Reader – Natural Resources Management
Natalie McNees – Forestry and Natural Resources Management

USDA Forest Service Internship

Group smiling

While working in national forests across the state of Colorado, five interns with the USDA Forest Service found diversity in their responsibilities as well as the teams they worked with. Each student gained new-found knowledge, practice and application for their fields of study. While feeling inexperienced at the beginning, each student said they built on what they knew and completed the internship with the skills necessary for future jobs.

CSU student holding an owl

“Having just finished my freshman year, I felt I had little experience going into my internship. My supervisor was an excellent teacher. He was there for me and made sure I understood the language and the concepts.”

– Lacey Allor
Natural Resources Management

USFS intern stands by an ATV

“The people who I worked with made the experience what it was. We all were in it together experiencing the same things at the same time. It didn’t matter what our ethnicities or beliefs were.”

– Nik Radtke
Ecosystem Science and Sustainability

USFS Intern holding animal bone

“My goal was to get out of my comfort zone, stay open minded and tackle the challenges that manifested. I saw parts of Colorado I never thought I would be able to or that would be accessible to me.”

– Marcela Riddick

“I learned how to advocate for myself to go out with a lot of different groups. Whether fire, recreation, rangeland, botany or NEPA policy, the public lands are for everyone. Public lands are in our public hands.”

– Olivia Bruce
Human Dimensions of Natural Resources

“While I learned a lot of new things, we also worked with timber. We practiced skills I learned in my biometry course and at CSU Mountain Campus. I knew exactly what I was doing, so that was cool.”

– Peter Staats