UMW students, Torie Bollinger (left), and Kori Mooney (right), will be working for the USFS this summer conducting hydrologic studies in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest.
Torie Bollinger has always loved to be on, in or by the water, and interested in making water studies and the outdoors a focus for her life. She grew up in Indiana, just outside of Indianapolis.
“I wanted to move out west to study environmental science in a place where I could experience the outdoors, making Montana Western the place to be,” she said.
While at Montana Western, Bollinger says she’s had the opportunity to gain valuable field experience from the E.S. professors that will be critical as she pursues her professional career.
“Montana Western has allowed me to be in the field and gain skills hands-on. This has really prepared me for the position this summer where I will be in the field frequently. I value the amount of time that we have made the outdoors our classroom,” she said.
Bollinger will graduate this spring with a B.S. in Environmental Sustainability with a focus in Natural Resources Management. When asked about furthering her education and attending graduate school, she said “I do plan on attending graduate school in the future. I would like to gain more experience in my field of study so I can feel comfortable choosing a master’s program that will suit me. I would like to study hydrology with a focus on fish habitat.”
This summer, she will be working as a Seasonal Hydrologic Technician (GS-4) for the United States Forest Service in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest.
“I am excited to be outdoors where I can learn next to my good friend and colleague, Kori Mooney. I know that we will be able to achieve the goals set in front of us this upcoming season and enjoy our time doing it,” said Bollinger.
Bollinger says that she is thankful for the knowledge that the Environmental Science professors have passed on to her. Her academic advisor, Dr. Arica Crootof, has helped guide her throughout her undergraduate experience and she is grateful for the support and encouragement she has received over the past four years.
Last year was her first year working for the United States Forest Service. She worked with the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest’s Trail Crew and Recreation Program.
“I am feeling ambitious knowing that we have the opportunity to complete important watershed projects throughout southwest Montana. I am very excited to start my hydrology career and appreciative of the individuals who have helped me reach my goals.”
Kori Mooney grew up in Kalispell, Montana, and graduated from Flathead High School in 2017. She began college at the University of Montana before transferring to Montana Western for the small class sizes, affordability and flexibility of the block schedule.
“I first came to Montana Western for the education program. While completing my gen-eds, I took an applied chemistry class with Dr. Schoenemann where we collected water samples throughout the valley and ran extensive testing in the chem lab. I did well in the class and had so much fun that I changed my major to Environmental Science,” Mooney said.
She then applied for and received a grant to work on a paleoclimate study with Dr. Schoenemann shortly after completing his class. Mooney says the Environmental Sciences (E.S.) Department at UMW has given her great experience conducting field science and analysis. She says the hands-on classes she has taken over the years have been extraordinary.
“This past semester, nearly half of my days in class were out in the field. We were using tools such as a flow meter and auto leveler in Hydrology and Surficial Processes that I will be using for my job this summer and fall,” said Mooney.
Mooney would like to credit the Montana Western professors for helping guide and mentor her as she has progressed through her academic career.
“I consider all of the E.S. faculty to be my neighbors and friends. Dr. Schoenemann has always pushed me to work harder, refine my craft and create professional level products. Dr. Crootof has helped me find perspective and balance, often counseling me about what the future could look like from grad school to jobs in the different sectors.”
Mooney will receive a Bachelor of Environmental Science with an emphasis in Geology from UMW this spring. Mooney is passionate about the interactions between water and climate. This summer, she will kickstart her career as a hydrologist by joining a team that works on the surface waters of southwestern Montana. She plans to attend graduate school after gaining experience in this field of work.
“I am excited to be using my degree. We have a trout habitat restoration project in the Selway coming up this fall. I am really excited to learn more about the ecology side of hydrology, since my training has primarily focused on the physical properties of water and the landscapes they carve,” Mooney said.
The Selway Creek Watershed Westslope Cutthroat Trout Restoration project will also include streamflow monitoring and road surveying.
This will be Mooney’s seventh season working to restore and protect public lands in Montana.