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October 10, 2019 by Tori Stanek
Like it does for so many, the outdoors drew Grace Hartman to Wyoming.
Originally from Newtown, Pennsylvania, Hartman met a Central Wyoming College student in her 2014 Rocky Mountain NOLS course. This connection ultimately influenced her transfer from the University of Vermont two years later.
CWC’s outdoor education program provides students with field opportunities that allow them to pursue careers outside of guide work. This ended up being ideal for Hartman, who entered the program with an interest in research.
I was drawn to the program because I wanted to work outside. But I was concerned because I wanted to do research. I thought it would be really concentrated on being a guide. I wanted to learn about doing more things than just that. ”
Participating in Interdisciplinary Climate Change Expeditions (ICCE) provided Hartman with the opportunities she desired. On these trips, CWC instructors and guest researchers teach participants from all academic disciplines to collect field data in alpine environments, and Hartman said the experience allowed her to develop unique professional abilities.
“They lay out the technical skills really well,” she said. “You are doing things on the expedition that other people can’t do.”
While attending CWC, Hartman completed the first of three expeditions in 2017. That year, she was honored alongside her classmate, Martin Baur, at the University of Wyoming’s Undergraduate Research Day. The pair received $1,000 for their ICCE research on black carbon and water quality and quantity in the Dinwoody Cirque.
Hartman graduated from CWC with her associates in outdoor leadership in 2017. While she is currently attending UW, Hartman continues to participate in ICCE annually. During the 2018 expedition, she continued the black carbon work autonomously, and in 2019, Hartman partnered with classmate, Danny Shade.
“Working with Grace is absolutely amazing,” Shade said. “She doesn’t cut corners. She is very straightforward as a communicator. Whenever I don’t know something, I can ask her, and she’ll know 99 percent of the time.”
Shade said he and Hartman plan to analyze this year’s glacier and permanent snow field samples for black carbon content in the near future. He also intends to continue the research for the next two to three years as a UW student.
Hartman enjoyed the collaborative aspect of working with Shade. As a whole, she said the expeditions taught her to combine her interest in the outdoors with research and education.
“I had never realized that I could pursue research at a four-year school and be in the field as well,” she said. “There are other options for an outdoor ed degree than being a guide or a NOLS instructor.”
In her most recent expedition, Hartman traveled to an altitude of 12,700 feet to collect a snow sample under the guidance of CWC professors Jacki Klancher and Darran Wells. While the trip was difficult and required a lot of skill, Hartman said their guides believed in them.
“If you show you are capable and competent, they will let you do a lot of things,” Hartman said. “They trusted our abilities.”
Both on expeditions and in class, Hartman said Klancher was the best leader she’s ever encountered.
“She is invested and passionate about everything she does,” Hartman said. “As a student, it is awesome to have that kind of person as a mentor and leader to follow.”
Klancher, who hired Hartman as a team lead for one of their field expeditions, remembers Hartman with an equal sense of respect.
“Grace is unbelievably competent, capable, kind, strong and willing,” she said. “She devotes herself, fully and completely, to all that she does, and does it all with minimal fanfare. Her intellect and abilities are both exemplary.”
Klancher also mentioned her desire for Hartman to continue her graduate education. As a current Bachelor of Science student in environment systems science, Hartman is well on her way. She mentioned pursuing her master’s after graduation in December and is currently working for the UW Lab Facility Stabile Isotope campus material calibration.