Photo: Brandon Barnes

After spending an entire summer in the field in Glacier, Brandon Barnes has more experience under his belt than most students his age.

Brandon, a 24 year-old student enrolled in Flathead Valley Community College’s (FVCC) Natural Resources Conservation & Management Program, just finished up a summer internship with Glacier National Park’s Fisheries Program – an internship your donations make possible!

The fisheries internship program strengthens the park’s ties to the local community by fostering collaborative relationships between Flathead Valley Community College, Glacier National Park, and the Glacier Conservancy. Aspiring natural resources management students receive hands-on education in a broad array of fisheries management and monitoring approaches. In turn, park staff get the help they need in collecting natural resource data required to manage the park’s aquatic resources.

Fisheries Internship Protects Glacier’s Pristine Waters

The Glacier Conservancy recently had the opportunity to connect with this summer’s fisheries intern, Brandon Barnes, a 24 year-old student originally from Ohio.

Glacier National Park Conservancy (GNPC): How did you end up in Glacier National Park? Is this your first position with the NPS?

Brandon Barnes (BB): After graduating high school, I continued my education at the University of Kentucky for two years trying to decide what path to take as far as my education was concerned. After some uncertainty, I took a break from school and moved to Montana where I worked for different horse outfits. Last year I decided to continue my education at FVCC, pursuing a wildlife biology degree. I found Glacier National Park through working with horses and guiding in the park; however, this was my first position with the NPS.

GNPC: What does your day-to-day work look like?

BB: Our day-to-day differed quite a bit as we were busy all summer with a variety of projects, from gillnetting at Quartz Lake to E-fishing and collecting discharges of different creeks and rivers. Every day is different, which is what really draws me to the fisheries program and keeps me excited about the work we are doing!

The sun sets behind a mountain range with an alpine lake in the foreground

Photo: NPS/Jacob W. Frank

Glacier National Park’s Fisheries Program assists with bull trout reintroduction and non-native lake trout removal throughout the park’s backcountry.

GNPC: Why do you feel this work is important?

BB: This work is important to me not only to grow our overall knowledge of the different systems in our park, but to preserve the unique fisheries. I hope to see them remain healthy and flourish with the natural species of fish that have been here since before we were.

GNPC: Any highlight stories from your summer season?

BB: My season with the Glacier Fisheries Program has been amazing working under Jon McCubbins and Chris Downs, as well as all the other members of the crew. I have learned more than I ever had hoped to and have gained experiences and memories that will last a lifetime. One highlight that stands out is the unique opportunity to work on a boat in Glacier’s backcountry gillnetting invasive lake trout. Not many people will get the chance to see those views from that awesome perspective.

A team of scientists stand along the shore of a river in mountainous backcountry

Photo: Brandon Barnes

GNPC: How is your training beneficial to your future career? What skills and experiences do you hope to get out of your work this summer?

BB: This internship has given me so many new skills. Had it not been for continuously working and learning on the job, I think I would’ve missed out on a lot had I just been doing all of my learning in the classroom. I hope to continue a career in the fisheries department as I finish up my education, and this opportunity has given me the biggest first step toward reaching that goal.

A team of scientists inspect a backpack on a crew member while wading in a river

Photo: Brandon Barnes

GNPC: Is there anything you’d like to add about the importance of this program?

BB: This internship was such an important opportunity for me because I can’t imagine any other way to really get to see what this line of work is like. This firsthand knowledge will help me back in the classroom as I am now able to relate it to the work I’ve directly done in the field.

To the donors that made all of this possible, I would just like to thank you over and over again for giving me truly a dream job and all the new experience and skills I now have under my belt. This summer was a time in my life I will never forget! 

A raft packed with crates of supplies sits along a river shore in the mountains

Photo: Brandon Barnes

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