As an AmeriCorps volunteer, Katherine Foley ’20 will serve the community of Big Sky, Montana as a member of the Gallatin River Task Force. Foley’s role will be to protect and preserve the Gallatin River, a tributary of the Missouri River that begins in Yellowstone National Park.
As a Big Sky Watershed Corps member, Foley will conduct field work to test the Gallatin’s water quality and develop watershed restoration projects. Other responsibilities will include community outreach, as she promotes watershed health and natural resource conservation and coordinates volunteer events.
“The position presents an amazing opportunity to explore Montana’s diverse landscapes and watersheds, study in a new environment, connect with a strong team of conservation experts, and be part of an environmental organization that is pursuing projects dealing with the protection of wildlife, habitat enhancement, education, watershed restoration and invasive species,” Foley says.
A biology and environmental studies double major, Foley says her coursework has given her the opportunity to confront the environmental challenges humanity faces due to climate change. While she intends to continue her studies at the graduate level in conservation and biology, she looks forward to increasing her field skills, and furthering her knowledge of water bodies beyond the Finger Lakes.
“This service opportunity seemed the perfect fit, allowing me to gain experience, engage with a dedicated team at a respected conservation organization, and make a positive difference in the environment,” she says.
Foley says she knew she wanted to study biology as a first-year student at the Colleges, but later found her niche at the intersection of aquatic biology and environmental science after studying limnological water bodies with Professor of Biology Meghan Brown, then conducting summer research on round gobies and lake sturgeons with Director of Introductory Laboratory Sciences Susan Flanders Cushman ’98.
“Through Professor Cushman’s guidance, I have gained hands-on experience in the lab and field techniques such as electrofishing, invertebrate sampling and water quality monitoring. She has continuously encouraged me to build confidence in my abilities and pursue my interest in biology as a career,” she says.
After participating in the Summer Research program, Foley began Honors research on invasive species and water quality in New York State parks. “My HWS research experience provided me with a strong background when applying for the Big Sky Watershed Corps position. I look forward to putting my experience to good use with the Gallatin River Task Force.”
Foley was a member of the William Smith Tennis team and the Laurel Society. As a junior, she studied abroad in Galway, Ireland.