The Department of Environmental Quality’s Land Quality Division (LQD) established the summer intern
work program in 2021 to recruit a junior or senior student enrolled at the University of Wyoming in the
College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. The summer temporary position provides an opportunity
for a student to gain valuable skills while supporting the DEQ intern mission on real world projects in
mining and reclamation.
“The cumulative experience gained by UW students who intern with the DEQ provides hands-on
experience in the fields of reclamation and land management which are so important to Wyoming,”
noted Kristina Hufford, Associate Professor at the University of Wyoming College of Agriculture and
During the summer, the student works with experienced professionals in their field of study and further
applies the knowledge they have gained from their university education. The program also offers the
opportunity to earn university credits that the student can apply towards their degree. This program
fosters a continued productive technical partnership between the University of Wyoming and the DEQ.
Claire Lake was this summer’s intern at the DEQ in Cheyenne and worked on projects involving the
support of mine permitting, environmental compliance and analysis, and land reclamation.
“My summer work with the DEQ-LQD allowed me to expand on my education from the University of
Wyoming by practicing skills to help with LQD projects. I also learned about the role of the mining
industries in Wyoming, and I got to see reclamation in action at mines across the state,” said Lake.
Specific projects in which Ms. Lake participated included:
- Updating a statewide documentation and GIS spatial dataset of alluvial valley floors at Wyoming coal mines.
- Updating a statewide GIS spatial dataset of Phase 3 bond release areas at coal mines.
- Assisting with inspections of coal and noncoal mine permits.
- Completing data compilation and analysis of reclamation land status data from coal permits.
- Assisting in the review of reclamation award applications.
- Converting maps from ArcMap format to ArcGIS Pro for use in Cumulative Hydrologic Impact Assessments.
- Compiling water use data from the State Engineer’s Office database.
- Assisting in records management and e-permitting initiatives.
- Attending LQD/industry work group meetings, LQD Advisory Board meetings, and other staff meetings.
Matt Kunze, LQD Natural Resources Program Supervisor, worked with Claire and noted what a great
asset she was to the LQD program over the summer. “She not only applied her skills using ArcGIS Pro to
several projects but also shared her knowledge of the software with other LQD staff,” stated Kunze.
Kyle Wendtland, who heads up the Land Quality Division agreed that Claire provided great value to the
LQD during her internship noting her willingness to learn, apply her skill sets, and provide technical
background on several assigned projects. “This is a valuable program,” stated Wendtland. “I look
forward to continuing this partnership with the university.”
Todd Parfitt, director of DEQ expressed the agency’s excitement about the intern program expanding.
“DEQ would like to utilize the intern program in other areas of the agency as well as the Land Quality
Division,” he said.
Additionally, as a board member of the University of Wyoming Haub School, Parfitt would like to see the
program expand throughout the University of Wyoming, including coordination with the Haub School.
“There is a great opportunity here for the students, the University, and our agency,” he noted.