Program’s Connections Give Student Upper Hand

Richard Zaggle

UNC Earth Sciences major Richard Zaggle tests a water sample at the Central Colorado Water Conservancy District’s in-house lab. Photo courtesy of www.impact-photo.org

What started out two years ago as a summer internship has turned into a steady job and provided valuable real-life experience for UNC Earth Sciences major Richard Zaggle.

Zaggle is an intern at the Central Colorado Water Conservancy District, which manages and protects water resources in northeast Colorado.

He helps protect those resources by taking water samples from ditch systems, augmentation waters and rivers and analyzing the data he collects in the CCWCD’s in-house lab in Greeley. He covers a territory that stretches from there to Fort Morgan and Commerce City.

“It might not seem important, but collecting data over a long period of time will be able to tell trends in water quality,” Zaggle said. “The best thing is they always work around my schedule and school comes first.”

Justin Bieri, water quality and information manager for the CCWCD and a UNC alumnus, coordinates Zaggle’s internship. He’s happy to see his interns come from his alma mater.

“Bears are the best,” Bieri said. “I’ve actually advertised at other schools, but I think UNC students respond because they’re right here in Greeley, so it’s a natural fit. They bring proximity and convenience to the table.”

He noted that two other UNC alumni also are district employees and that Zaggle is one of two UNC students with current internships.

Another beneficial UNC tie with the CCWCD is Bill Hoyt, professor of Oceanography. He’s collaborated with the district on EPA pollution education grants and is a presenter and steering committee member with the district’s annual Children’s Water Festival.

Hoyt’s role as secretary of the board of the Poudre Learning Center, which provides educational experiences associated with the Cache la Poudre River environments to K-12 students in the region. The CCWD is a longtime partner and supporter of the center.

“The offering of UNC student internships with excellent business and government partners is made possible by UNC having good interns to offer them, and their willingness to train and mentor the fine UNC students,” Hoyt said.

Zaggle learned about the CCWCD internship through the Earth Sciences Listserv. Listserv group e-mail distribution software is used by most UNC academic programs to connect subscribing students to information about scholarships, internships, jobs and other information related to their fields of study.

Although he currently plans to pursue an advanced degree after receiving his bachelor’s degree in May, Zaggle said he knows he’ll benefit from the connections he’s made through his internship for year to come, whether he’s using the real-life experience and legitimate references he gained to apply for graduate school or a job.

- Brittany Sarconi