Chantalle Vincent ’20, Collects Data at the Yellowhawk River to See if the Recent Flooding has been Detrimental at Kooskooskie Commons in Walla Walla, WA.

My name is Chantalle Vincent and I am a senior Environmental Studies- Biology major History minor with an internship at Kooskooskie Commons in Walla Walla, Washington. Kooskooskie Commons is a local nonprofit which works to restore the ecosystems along rivers and collects data regarding the temperature, dissolved oxygen levels, fecal colloform, and other factors that indicate the water’s quality. Moving forward, as the seasons change and the rivers become more manageable, I will be continuing to collect this data of the Yellowhawk River and its many tributaries. Going back out into the field will also help us see if the recent flooding has been detrimental to the conditions of the many riparian restorations Kooskooskie Commons has worked on over the years. Both getting out to look at any possible damage up close, and then looking through data to understand the effects of flood events on the rivers, will be helpful. I am looking forward to the opportunity to continue collecting data and working with Kooskooskie Commons on rebuilding and protecting local riparian ecosystems.

Kooskooskie Commons also spends time ensuring that members of the Walla Walla community understand their work and the importance of rivers to greater ecosystems and the health of human populations. This past Thursday, March 5, Kooskooskie Commons helped fund and put on the film event “Stories of our Watershed” at the GESA Powerhouse Theatre to help further this goal. The event showed a series of short films dealing with a variety of water issues which directly impact communities, from the plight of salmon here in the Pacific Northwest to filter-feeding shrimp in the tropical rivers of Puerto Rico. Almost 150 people from the Walla Walla and Whitman communities, both those involved in protecting water and those completely new to the issues, came to watch the films and speak with the many organizations working on related topics throughout the area. 

Along with my supervisor, Judith Johnson, I spoke with attendees about the role of Kooskooskie Commons in riparian restoration around Walla Walla, and my own work collecting and managing water quality data. We were able to share some of our current data, through a brief PowerPoint presentation I put together, along with some of the organization’s greater goals and objectives. It was amazing to see the genuine interest from so many community members, all of whom appeared curious both about my work with Kooskooskie Commons and about the many issues portrayed in the films. 

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Experiences like Chantalle’s are made possible by the Whitman Internship Grant, which provides funding for students to participate in unpaid internships at both for-profit and non-profit organizations. To learn how you could secure a Whitman Internship Grant or host a Whitman intern at your organization, click here or contact Assistant Director for Internship Programs Mitzy Rodriguez

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