(Intern Lindsey Wood poses with invasive lake weeds.) 

For the last five years, Fortin Consulting has been monitoring a wetland in Chisholm, Minnesota. It’s just north of Hibbing on 169, and a bit of a haul for this Hamel-based environmental consulting firm. It’s also where SciTech Intern Lindsey Wood found herself this summer, wading through marshland to capture and identify aquatic macroinvertebrates (insects and other critters without a backbone). Her spirits, like the water level, were exceptionally high. 

“I like being out of the office – no offense to the office – but I’ve really enjoyed doing field work,” Wood said happily. “It’s a really cool opportunity and all my roommates are jealous.”

As an environmental technician, Wood started her internship with a fair amount of work in the field. She helped with purple loosestrife biocontrol (a pretty but invasive flowering plant), collected plant samples and learned a lot about different loosestrife beetle  catch and release techniques.

The locations of these field visits, and their conditions, often determined the equipment she and her team would use. Sometimes Wood and the others needed a boat to collect their samples, sometimes they wore waders. “Which look amazing on me,” Wood added jokingly.

One of her bigger projects this summer involved conducting boat access observations for Hennepin County. To help mitigate invasive species across launch sites, Wood spent 150+ hours gathering traffic and usage data at set locations around the county’s many lakes. 

The best part of it she said, is “being able to go outside, collect data and look at trends across that data while I’m doing it. It’s nice being able to incorporate those two.”  

Classes in Chloride
Early on in the company’s founding, Fortin found its niche in chloride mitigation. While conducting a river monitoring project for the county, they recorded high chloride concentrations in the water. The source, they discovered, was coming from the excess of road salt. Since there were no chloride-based classes for contractors at the time, Fortin saw an opportunity and stepped up to create its own training on how to deal with the issue. Since then, they’ve developed four different chloride mitigation classes that are currently used by government agencies and snow removal contractors throughout the state.

“We’re a unique company,” said Carolyn Dindorf, Fortin’s Vice President. “We want our interns to leave with an appreciation for water resources and the environment, and hopefully a desire to protect them in the future. Our goal is to give Lindsey an overall experience of all the things we do, because it’s kind of varied with our combination of field work and office work. So hopefully she leaves with a desire to learn more about it.”           

Wood’s experience working with the chloride assessments certainly made an impact and even inspired her to register for an Assessment and Diagnosis of Impaired Waters class this fall. This internship helped bring her attention to the Chloride problem in Minnesota, Wood said. “I hadn’t been aware of the issue before I came to Fortin Consulting and this sort of opened my eyes about it.” 

Exceeding expectations
This is Wood’s first internship. Going into it, she said she was really looking for a real-world opportunity. “I came into this expecting to learn a lot and it’s definitely exceeded my expectations,” Wood said. “I was also looking for an internship that had a good company atmosphere. Fortin is a great place to work.”

Get involved
At least 200 internship wage matches are available to small employers on a first come, first hire basis. Get started today at SciTechMN.org.

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