Matthew Weingart is a member of Oregon’s Klamath Tribe and is a Pend d’Oreille descendent. He is a first generation college student at Salish Kootenai College (SKC) and is a double major in the Hydrology and Forestry programs.
His interest in research began to germinate after being involved with his first summer internship through SKC (an EPSCoR Large River Ecosystems partnership). That involved learning to survey stream channels and to take measurements of groundwater, to monitor changes in the water levels of the Jocko River Watershed, on the Flathead Indian Reservation. Matthew said, “Being out in the field with nature doing science was my ultimate dream job and I’m just glad I decided to go back to school.”
Since then, Matthew has participated in many internships offered by SKC or through partner programs including:
1) studying ancient vegetation patterns using pollen grains in lake sediment (a partnership with the University of Minnesota’s LacCore, The National Center for Earth Surface Dynamics, and Fond Du Lac Natural Resources Department);
2) analyzing satellite images to track forest regeneration rates after the 1988 fires in Yellowstone National Park (a partnership with Kiksapa Consulting LLC and NASA);
3) quantifying rainforest expansion rates and collecting data on how carbon levels fluctuate within Australian and New Zealand forests (a partnership with the WildFIRE Partnerships In Research and Education (PIRE) program).
He also did volunteer work with a graduate student from the University of Montana using the SKC ground-penetrating radar to map bedrock in the Lubrecht Experimental Forest, and conducted White Pine blister rust surveys in Glacier National Park with Montana State University’s Ecology Department.
“There are so many opportunities for a student in this day and they are just waiting to be applied for. I was timid at first, but I just kept going to school, because I wanted to get an education in a STEM field. I wanted to show my family and myself, that I could get an education and I continue to encourage aspiring Native students getting degrees in the STEM fields.”
His research with WildFIRE PIRE became his senior thesis project and involved looking at how wildfire activity and vegetation communities in northern Yellowstone National Park changed over the last 13,000 years. He is continuing to seek his Masters and PhD degrees in the Earth Sciences.
“As I grow into a scientist, I continue to be inspired by all the research that has been done in the past, and I have a new respect for the people who stuck it out and have made their dreams come true.”