TOWNSEND — This summer, 4 college students will be working at multiple ranches throughout Montana to attain a better understanding of what ranch life is all about and possible credit toward their degree.
“To be out here and learning from these generous folks about what it's like to live off the land and make a living off of it, it's very impressive. And I think it's really beneficial to do it hands-on, instead of just seeing it in a classroom setting,” says University of Montana senior and Working Lands Intern, Bridger Line.
The Montana Working Lands Internship Program places students in natural resource-related fields on working ranches. This allows students to marry the knowledge they’ve learned in the classroom with real-world, hands-on experience in real working ranches.
This year’s paid internship lasts for about 3-months and allows participants the chance to travel to multiple different ranches, spending about 2 weeks at each ranch. Interns do everything and anything related to ranch work during their stays such as roping, fence work, and irrigation.
Line will be graduating in Resource Conservation with a minor in wildlife biology. He says that he’s interested in working to resolve conflicts between government agencies and ranchers.
“So, I'm getting kind of the law policy side through school and learning about how to take care of the lands. And then through this internship, I'm actually coming out here with five different ranches and two weeks at each ranch to actually learn about what it takes to do so and learn about what the ranchers need and what they're thinking versus other agencies such as the BLM or the Forest Service and kind of see how the two sides correlate with each other,” says Line.
In turn, participating ranches receive some extra help and a chance to pass along their knowledge to a younger generation who may very well be working in government roles or in natural resource conservation roles in the near future.
“It seems like we're getting further and further away from, you know, the sources of our food and understanding the sources of our food and all the byproducts of the animals and the critters that we raise that sustain society. And I just think it's so important that the younger generations hopefully have a firm grasp on what that is,” says Rancher, Denise Thompson.
The link to more information on the internship can be found here: http://dnrc.mt.gov/divisions/cardd/rangeland-resource-program/montana-working-lands-internship-program