DREW WENDEBORN - WILDERNESS RANGER INTERN - 2010
After Drew’s summer internship with the SBFC, he went back to school at Texas A&M and graduated with a degree in Spatial Sciences. Drew’s first job was a temporary position with the Bexar County Appraisal District GIS department in San Antonio. He continued to apply for numerous permanent positions throughout the country.
After passing on multiple GIS job offers, Drew finally found a great position with a remote sensing company, Watershed Sciences. Most of the work at Watershed Sciences involved airborne surveys for natural resource management. The LiDAR surveys are eventually converted to data used to create the topographic maps we're all familiar with. Drew’s first position was as a Ground Survey Professional which had him travelling all around the country setting up GPS equipment to assist the aircraft. In fact, Drew’s first project was mapping the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness area.
It was the experience and training that he gained through his internship with the (then) Selway-Bitterroot Foundation, that gave him the credentials to land a position with Watershed Sciences. Drew’s current job requires that he work unsupervised in the field for weeks at a time, it was that same work experience with the SBFC that ensured that he was trustworthy and could meet expectations without close supervision. Drew is happy that the data he has helped to collect is still being used for Wilderness management.
Drew is incredibly thankful for the opportunity to intern with the Foundation as it has directly shaped his trajectory in life. With backcountry in his blood, he continues to be an avid advocate for Wilderness Stewardship, and hikes and skis the Wilderness areas near his new home of Portland, Oregon.
SHANE HETZLER - WILDERNESS RANGER INTERN - 2011
After his internship in 2011, Shane returned to the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies to finish up his master’s degree. He worked for the School Forester’s Office there, first as an apprentice forester, and later as the head of the Quiet Corner Initiative. This initiative was focused on building local capacity around sustainable forest management, small-scale agriculture, and renewable energy in a very rural and overlooked part of the state.
In 2013 Shane started Back Forty Forestry, LLC, a forestry consulting firm dedicated to sustainable land management in the Northeast. His clients range from private landowners to prep schools and land trusts, as well as many other folks. The diversity of projects in Back Forty’s portfolio includes ecological baseline studies, forest management plans, trail projects, and wildlife habitat improvements. Shane finds consulting both exciting and challenging, and is excited to be bringing on his first staff member in 2016.
Shane often relies on his experience as a Wilderness Ranger Intern. He is familiar with one of the paradoxes of wilderness and wildlands (managing something to look “unmanaged”). According to Shane it’s an important conversation starter with his clients who are interested in both the benefits and challenges to a “forever wild” style of land management. Shane uses many of the same field skills that he practiced at SBFC (map and compass work, cross-country travel, etc.) to accomplish his fieldwork in the backwoods of New England and New York.
Shane is grateful for his experience with SBFC, not only for the skills that he learned but the friends that he made. His experiences in The Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness have left an indelible mark on how he sees land management as a professional, as well as knowing from experience how essential wilderness is to us as a society. He is anxious to get back to Moose Creek and fly fish for more Idaho Westslope Cutthroats.
Charlie Smillie – Wilderness Ranger Intern - 2011
After Charlie’s internship in 2011, Charlie wrapped up school at U of M’s College of Forestry and Conservation, and rejoined the SBFC as a Crew Leader out of Powell Ranger Station. A full six months of backcountry work, mentoring a new crop of interns, and learning more about wilderness, trail work, and outdoor leadership helped Charlie in his transition from college into the next phase of his life.
On the recommendation of SBFC colleagues, in 2013 Charlie left Montana to spend a season with Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards, a boots-on-the-ground effort in the same spirit as SBFC. There, he experienced a new landscape, culture, and found that the community of people with passion for wild places was alive and well in the southeast. As a crew leader, wilderness ranger, and eventually field supervisor, Charlie’s time with SAWS brought further clarity and opportunity for growth. The path of professional wilderness stewardship that began as a SBFC intern continued to lead to more opportunities to help people connect and protect wild places.
After three years exploring Tennessee, Georgia, and North Carolina, Charlie was blessed to have an opportunity to return to his hometown, Billings, to become the Eastern Montana Field Director for the Montana Wilderness Association. While he doesn’t spend as many days on trails as he once did, he does get to work with bright, committed people every day to advocate for and protect the Prairie Wildlands that first drew his eyes to the horizon. To learn more about the places Charlie’s working to protect with MWA, visit wildmontana.org, or feel free to reach out to him directly at email@example.com.
jack ader - wilderness ranger intern 2013
After Jack’s summer internship with SBFC in 2013 he returned to the University of Idaho to finish his degree in Natural Resource Conservation with a Minor in Wilderness Management. Jack graduated in the spring of 2014 and immediately went to work as a Wilderness Ranger in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area where he spent the summer patrolling the Sawtooth Wilderness, cleaning up fire rings and burying poop. He followed that with a brief stint working with the coalition that eventually saw the creation of three new wilderness areas in the Boulder-White Cloud region of Idaho.
From there Jack went to work as a Wilderness Ranger on the Middle Fork District of the Salmon-Challis National Forest where he spent a season cutting out trails in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness.
After that, Jack accepted a permanent position as the Wilderness Ranger of the West Fork District on the Bitterroot National Forest. That’s where you can find him today!
According to Jack, “The SBFC internship was pivotal in helping shape my career path. The skills I was taught and relationships I developed with both land managers, staff, and other interns gave me the boost I needed to bring me to where I am now.”
tyler lee - wilderness ranger intern 2015
· BS - Environmental & Sustainability, Western State Colorado University, 2016
· Master of Environmental Management – Integrative and Public Land Management, Western State Colorado University, 2019
What has been your career track thus far?
After my 2015 season as a Wilderness Ranger Intern with the SBFC, I went to work for the Forest Service a Wilderness Ranger in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area. I patrolled solo on and off trail in the remote backcountry for five days at a time in the Sawtooth Wilderness (217,088 acres) and newly designated Hemingway-Boulders Wilderness (67,998 acres) and White Clouds Wilderness (90,769 acres). During my two seasons in the Sawtooth NRA, I had the opportunity to provide input and recommendations for the Wilderness Management Plan, bring to fruition a non-profit volunteer group called Wilderness Stewards, and oversee early season projects and logistics as Assistant to the Wilderness Manager.
This past January I was sponsored by the American Hiking Society as a Next Generation Trail Leader to travel to Washington D.C. to advocate in favor of legislation that supports trails and wilderness at Hike The Hill. Over the course of a week, I met with Congressmen, Senators, and high-ranking government officials such as the Chief of the Forest Service. One of the meetings that stood out was with Congressman Mike Simpson of Idaho, where I was able to share my experience as an intern with the SBFC.
Currently, I am a Candidate in the Masters in Environmental Management Program at Western State Colorado University with a focus on studying Integrative and Public Land Management. My thesis project in Colorado is assisting the White River National Forest with implementing an overnight limited use permit system in the Maroon Bells Snowmass Wilderness. The primary focus of this project will be to employ and enforce the inaugural permit system at the heavily used Conundrum Hot Springs. In addition, I will be seasonally employed by the White River National Forest as the Lead Wilderness Ranger overseeing a crew of fourteen trails and wilderness personnel.
Why did you want to intern with SBFC?
Before I was an Intern with SBFC, I had worked as an Assistant Crew Leader and Crew Member on AmeriCorps Backcountry Trail Crews. Since I was young, I had wanted to be a Wilderness Ranger and work for the Forest Service. I saw the Wilderness Ranger Internship with the SBFC as an opportunity to leverage my trail skills into a Wilderness Ranger Position.
What was your “aha moment” as an intern?
The most moving experience I had as an intern was standing in the Middle Fork of the Salmon River deep within the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness after several days of logging out trails. The river embodied the eternal nature of Wilderness through time, but more importantly, showed that we do not need wild places for nature's sake, we need wilderness for humanity’s sake.
How did the SBFC internship play a role in landing your first job out of college?
If it were not for SBFC, I would not have had the connections I needed to land a Wilderness Ranger position in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area. Furthermore, Wilderness Character Monitoring is becoming a necessary skill in the wilderness and recreation management field. The SBFC internship was an excellent opportunity to learn about Wilderness Character Monitoring and research in designated Wilderness.
How did you use the information you learned while being an intern to help you in your college work and/or your new career?
One of the critical skill sets that has directly translated towards working with the Forest Service is volunteer management. There is a significant shift in the Forest Service towards “shared stewardship”, which means Forest Managers need to have outstanding relationships with partners, such as the SBFC. Working for the SBFC, I was able to see how volunteer groups function and how to efficiently coordinate volunteers in the backcountry from a Forest and Partner point of view.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years.
In five years I would like to see myself in a Wilderness or recreation management position with the US Forest Service. While I do not currently see myself having an “end goal”, I would like to have a position where I can effectuate positive change on a large scale, whether it be through policy or stewardship.