Autumn Ela
Env. Stud., Helford and Carson
December 5, 2001

Internship Report

I interned with Kooskooskie Commons on their Water/Salmon People project. In this internship I attended a water symposium and interviewed a local farmer for a radio program on the various perspectives and interests people have on water in the Walla Walla Valley. In the future this interview may be compiled with others and then turned into a radio piece for National Public Radio's (NPR) Living on Earth show.


I found this internship a little hard to get started. I attended the Walla Walla Basin Water Symposium in September and learned a great deal about the background of water issues in the valley. For the month of October my internship director was out of town, and so as a result not much was completed during this month. In November I was able to attain the phone number of Russ Bergevin and call to make a date for an interview with him. He was very obliging and so I conducted and taped an interview with him. I then took the recordings and turned them into a shorter piece discussing his thoughts on water issues. I found the actual interview interesting as was the symposium, but the lack of direction from the internship organization was a bit frustrating. I felt that she wanted me to be independent, which was fine with me, but when I asked for the phone numbers of the people I wanted to interview she was reluctant to give them to me, and insisted upon calling Mr. Bergevin first and then letting me call him. I would have preferred to either have been given the freedom to direct the internship myself, or else been given stricter goals to be attained and the direction to achieve them. I feel that overall the idea of the internship was interesting and exciting, but the logistics of it were not thought out thoroughly enough to be make it a successful enterprise.

Experience and Learning

I found both the symposium and the interview with Mr. Bergevin to be educational and worthwhile experiences. The actual data collecting parts of the internship were successful and satisfying. Now I have a good understanding of the variety of opinions people shelter about the future of water but don't feel that the internship itself really got to deeply into what the original idea intended it to. My knowledge on the salmon issue has also been expanded, since I previously only knew the basics, but now have a deeper understanding and grasp of. I also learned a lot about internships and being assertive about my needs in order to accomplish the goals of the internship. In reflection I think although an internship or activity may have a wonderful idea, it needs some sort of structure in which to achieve its goal. I feel that I was negligent in seeking further guidance earlier in the internship and in voicing my concerns so that they could be addressed before the internship was over. At the same time I feel that my internship director should have passed the direction of the internship off to someone else, when she became aware that she was going to be gone for a month, or she should have left me with information to be able to continue the internship's interviews on my own.


1. I attended the Walla Walla Basin Water Symposium where I learned a lot of background information on water issues and the variety of perspectives on this issue. From this forum I was able to make a few contacts with people who would be useful for future interviews and data collection.

2. I interviewed Russ Bergevin who was the first person on the list of interviewees. He enjoys talking and telling stories, so gave me a lot of historical perspective on water issues as well as historical perspective on the Walla Walla basin in general.

3. Transcribed and made a shorter clip of excerpts from the interview of Mr. Bergevin to be used perhaps as one of the clips for the radio program. If not, his interview still provided data from which future questions can be created and background information established.


This internship was relatively easy once it started going. The interview was informal and Mr. Bergevin was easy to talk to and the pleasure he took in talking made him an easy interviewee. I could ask him a question and he would run with it, which made my job simple. In the end I only asked him one of my planned questions and from there I asked him questions in response to things he had said, as he was also pretty open and willing to ramble on for a while on the topics of interest as well as other topics. The only difficulties logistically were finding times to meet that fit into my schedule, Mr. Bergevin's schedule and Jesse Cowling's, who was videotaping Mr. Bergevin, schedule. I found recording equipment pretty easily from the sociology department and since I just used normal cassette tapes I could cut and splice for the short clip on a normal tape player.

Successful Parts

I established relations with two agriculturists from the symposium, and was able to follow up this original meeting with an interview. The interview was successful and gave me enough data to make a short clip discussing at least one perspective on water and one farmer's future hopes for water. I also improved my working knowledge of overall water issues, which makes me if nothing else a more informed citizen of Walla Walla.

Problems and Difficulties

It was very difficult to receive the information necessary to contact the interviewees and to get the interview part of the internship going. Although I was persistent in asking for the phone numbers and last names of some of the interviewees it was a couple of weeks before this information trickled down to me. The lack of an internship director for the entire month of October also presented a problem as I was left with no instruction or direction on what I should accomplish while she was out of town. I was only able to interview one farmer and never received information on how to contact anyone else. As a result my short clip is really only a one-sided story displaying one man's views. The lack of knowledge by my internship director into how to do a piece for a radio show was also a problem, since I expected that she knew how to go about designing a program, since she proposed the project. Since I came into the internship without any real experience in this area, it made it difficult to figure out how to do a program and what format it should take. As a result my short clip is very choppy and does not flow very well. If it were to actually be used for a radio program there would need to be a lot of work on refining it and editing it to make it smoother.

Time Commitment

The time I committed to this internship was very sporadic, since it was made up of attendance at a three-day symposium, a four-hour interview and tour of Mr. Bergevin's ranch and then hours spent editing and transcribing the interview. The time on this internship was mostly spent at the end, once the taped data was obtained and in need of editing. This internship was relatively easy to commit time to in that the interview was set up on a day in which all parties had time to spend on it and it fit into our schedules. The editing and transcribing was done at my convenience, as I was able to use my own tape deck for the cutting and splicing. The symposium was the only block of time in which I really had little influence over the time it needed to be attended. Even so, I was able to attend the symposium around my class schedule; I obviously did not attend the entire program but saw enough of it to give me a good idea of what it was about and give me a base of knowledge.

Key Contacts and Future Plans

Kevin Scribner -; 526-0943

Judy Johnson -; 529-8009

Russ Bergevin- agriculturist

Janice and Louie Riley- agriculturists

In the future there is a lot of work to complete the original goal of the internship. I might suggest modifying the goals of the internship, at least until Kooskooskie Commons receives more information on how to design and produce a radio piece, or they submit a proposal to NPR and receive funding for the proposal. Obviously more interviews will have to be conducted and perhaps even another interview with Mr. Bergevin would be necessary in order to get in depth specifics on exactly how his plan for impounding water would work etc. He provided a good base from which to design future questions and to give direction to the project, but now detail of the issues might be necessary. Interviews with people in opposition to Mr. Bergevin as well as other farmers would also be useful to give a complete and whole picture of the situation. Attendance at the spring Walla Walla Basin Water Symposium would also be useful to see what changes have occurred and how people's views have been modified.