Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Blumenstein Internship

Last fall, I had the great opportunity to speak with Jack and Sarah Blumenstein for a story on the Charlie Blumenstein Water and Wildlife Conservation Internship, which I was writing for our Idaho annual report.

The internship funds a summer internship at Silver Creek for a Colorado College student, and is a tremendous learning opportunity for students and a tremendous benefit to our work at Silver Creek.

Jack and Sarah started the internship as a way to remember their son Charlie, who tragically died as a young man. In talking to them about the internship, I was inspired by their vision, kindness and passion for their son's legacy and for conservation.

Sadly, Jack Blumenstein passed away unexpectedly on February 29. We are all saddened by the loss, and our thoughts go to Sarah and the Blumenstein family. In memory of both Jack and Charlie, we are reprinting the full story of the internship here.

Remembering Charlie
Visit Silver Creek in the summer, and you’ll probably see a flurry of activity: people planting trees, leading tours, fixing fence, greeting visitors, painting buildings. Taking the lead on much of the efforts are the Conservancy’s great interns. We truly couldn’t do it without them.

The interns, in turn, gain working experience while enjoying one of the most beautiful streams in the country. Many echo the sentiments of 2010 intern Dominique Lucio, who called the intern experience “one of the best and most educational of my life.”

Funding Lucio’s experience was the Charlie Blumenstein Water and Wildlife Conservation Internship at Colorado College. The story of that internship is the story of a legacy, a memory, of another young man who was touched by the Silver Creek experience.

Charlie Blumenstein was an avid fly fisher, hydrologist and conservationist who—like so many with his passions—fell in love with Silver Creek on visits there with his parents and two brothers.

He credited his informal, out-of-classroom, extra-curricular, field experiences with his decision to become a hydrologist.

Charlie shared his passion with his family, and his parents Jack and Sarah credit him with educating them about stream conservation and water resources in the West.

In 2003, Charlie tragically died of stomach cancer at age 29, a terrible loss for family and friends.
“We knew we had to do something to honor and remember him,” said his father, Jack. “We realized we could do something that combined two of his loves, Colorado College and Silver Creek.”

The internship was born from this idea, and has been since been almost entirely funded by family friends. Since 2004, eight Blumenstein interns have lived and worked at Silver Creek for the summer, providing invaluable help to the Conservancy’s work while also furthering their own education and professional resumes.

Jack and Sarah Blumenstein, who own a home in Sun Valley, are able to spend time with the interns and host them at their home during the summer. “It’s been an absolutely wonderful program to remember Charlie,” Sarah said . “And it’s a wonderful way to make a contribution to sustaining Silver Creek.”

Jack and Sarah were increasingly involved in other Conservancy projects, including at Idaho’s South Fork of the Snake River and the Henry’s Fork, as well as Alaska. Recently, they took a trip to southern Africa, and appreciated the chance to discuss global conservation with Conservancy lead scientist Sanjayan at Silver Creek’s 35th anniversary gala.

“The Conservancy has a big mission but does an excellent job of making sure the conservation happens on the ground,” said Jack. “We are huge fans and believers in the organization. We are so happy to be able to contribute to the Conservancy’s work in our own small way, and to remember Charlie and his love of Silver Creek.” --Matt Miller

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