Watershed Group and Water Quality District Partnerships

Leah Bellus

Organization serving: Gallatin Local Water Quality District and Greater Gallatin Watershed Council

Location: Bozeman

I grew up in Upstate New York spending time near the Great Lakes, Adirondack Mountains, Lake Placid, the Finger Lakes, and Canada (Algonquin Provincial Park). While working with the Upper Peninsula Resource Conservation and Development Council, I received my Bachelors of Science at Northern Michigan University majoring in Environmental Studies and Sustainability with a focus on Biology and Resource Conservation. I also spent time during my college years working with the Marquette and Alger County Conservation Districts with stream monitoring through the MiCorps Stream Monitoring Program and devoting time to community gardens in Marquette, Michigan. After graduating in April 2016, I joined Montana Conservation Corps on a Wildlands Restoration crew in the Greater Yellowstone Region to combat one of the most pressing ecological threats to natural systems in the Northern Rockies, invasive/noxious plants and tree infestations. Due to networking and experiences with MCC, an avenue opened up for me to apply for Big Sky Watershed Corps because of my enthusiasm for natural resources in the Greater Yellowstone Region. I have spent a lot of time working with vegetation management and mapping, as well as water quality monitoring/stream monitoring. When I am not working, I enjoy fly fishing and fly tying, canoeing, mountain biking, ice climbing, trail running, backcountry backpacking trips, and pretty much anything that can get me outside; even if it’s just reading a book or writing along a river or trail, or having a snack on a peak of a mountain! I love growing micro-greens, vegetables, and herbs; beekeeping, as well as brewing kombucha, and fermenting foods. Water resources is something I am very passionate about, as I have spent my childhood growing up near the Great Lakes learning the value of water, demand for clean water, and all of the recreational activities on or near water.

Valerie Stacey

Organization serving: Lewis and Clark County Water Quality Protection District and Lake Helena Watershed Group

Location: Helena

Originally from the Midwest, I grew up in the state of Michigan and attended college in Indiana where I received a bachelor’s degree in Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Biology from Saint Mary’s College of Notre Dame. While in school, I focused on ecological research in a wide variety of environments, from the northern region of Wisconsin to
an island off the coast of Panama. Striving to find a confluence between society and environmental science, my interest in natural resource management grew. Upon graduation, I moved to Wyoming where I worked intimately with river and stream systems as a technician for the Bureau of Land Management’s Amphibian Habitat Assessment Project. After the seasonal position ended, I applied to the Big Sky Watershed Corps program and found myself in Helena, Montana as of January, where I will be working for the Lewis and Clark County’s Water Quality Protection District. I look forward to learning from my peers and coworkers, as well as gaining experience in hydrology and watershed management as I aspire to one day study as a graduate student, working collaboratively with both a university and natural resource groups. I enjoy a long hike in the mountains and a stimulating book, creating photos and videos,
eating delicious food with friendly company and good music, and laughing and learning new things.