DEQ Land Quality Division Wraps-up Summer 2023 Intern Program 

Pictured above, DEQ Intern, Katelyn Mitchem holds her MW Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year Award

CHEYENNE – In 2021, the Department of Environmental Quality’s (DEQ) Land Quality Division (LQD) established a summer intern work program 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.

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.

Katelyn Mitchem was this summer’s intern at the DEQ in Cheyenne. Ms. Mitchem earned her Bachelor of Science degree in May 2023 from the University of Wyoming, completing a double major in Environmental Systems Science and Rangeland Ecology and Watershed Management. 

Ms. Mitchem worked out of the DEQ office in Cheyenne on projects involving the support of mine permitting, environmental compliance and analysis, and land reclamation.

According to Katelyn, her internship with the LQD provided valuable experience and skills applicable to her future career.

“I was able to apply my knowledge gained from my education at the University of Wyoming to real world situations such as studying the effects of mines on surface water salinity and updating data for GIS projects,” she stated. “I am grateful to the DEQ staff for giving me this opportunity.”

Specific projects that Katelyn worked on included:

  • Completing an initial statistical analysis and reporting of water quality data from rivers located near trona mining operations near Green River, Wyoming.
  • Creating an educational GIS Story Map on mining in Wyoming and updating a companion PowerPoint presentation.
  • Updating a statewide GIS spatial dataset of mined and backfilled/graded areas at Wyoming coal mines.
  • Updating a statewide GIS spatial dataset of Phase 3 bond release areas at coal mines.  
  • Creating and updating maps in ArcGIS Pro for use in a Cumulative Hydrologic Impact Assessment.
  • Compiling water use and water rights data from the State Engineer’s Office database.
  • Assisting in User Acceptance Testing of the new LQD electronic inspection application.
  • 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 who worked with Katelyn said “Katelyn had a very productive internship with the LQD this summer. From the first day, she performed at a high level and produced high quality work. Her work products will continue to support several LQD projects for quite some time.”

Kunze also pointed out that Katelyn is not only academically talented but also excelled in athletics. During her years at UW, Katelyn competed as a Cowgirl in track and field and in early August of this year was selected as the Mountain West (MW) Conference Female Scholar Athlete of the Year. Established in 1999 by the Mountain West Joint Council, the MW Scholar-Athlete of the Year Award is the highest honor presented to a student-athlete by the Conference.  The award is presented to athletes that have achieved excellence in academics, athletics, and community involvement throughout their intercollegiate career. 

Kyle Wendtland, LQD Administrator noted what a pleasure it has been to have Katelyn as part of the LQD team for the 2023 internship.  “Katelyn has produced high value and high-quality work products during her tenure with the division,” said Wendtland. “The LQD wishes Katelyn the very best in her future pursuits. Thank you, Katelyn!”

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