In the last two weeks of May, I managed to work my way through four final exams (which involved a whole lot of painstaking map-making, evaluating wildfires and vulnerability across Chilean urban landscapes, interpreting Champlain Valley bedrock geology, and analyzing a collection of Pedro Almódovar’s films), pack up all my belongings, and bid a little farewell to both graduating friends and the Middlebury College campus as my sophomore year of undergrad came to a close. Over Memorial Day weekend, I then hopped on a flight, ventured to Denver, began the process of getting a feel for the (rapidly growing!) city, and made sure I knew how to eventually make my way out to Golden to meet with CFI’s core staff for my impending first day on the job as a summer season intern.

Being a rather meticulous planner, my journey out to Colorado and connection with CFI were in no way arranged in a spontaneous or haphazard fashion. Ultimately, I presently find myself privileged and eager to be involved with CFI and the Sustainable Trails Program via the Colorado Leaders, Interns, and Mentors in Business (CLIMB) program. That is, I’m a student participant within CLIMB, which broadly seeks to support a dual mission: “to provide students from top-tier colleges with one-of-a-kind internships while exposing them to all that Colorado has to offer, as well as support the growth and development of business in Colorado”.

I figure that for me to make a virtual appearance on this blog as a new member of the CFI squad that you may be seeing out in the field and at events, it only makes sense for me to make a small plug for CLIMB as to share how I (and the last couple of CFI’s interns) have gotten involved with the 14ers.

CLIMB works as a partnership program, inviting students from Brown, Denison, Harvard, Middlebury, MIT, Stanford, Northwestern McCormick School of Engineering, Wesleyan, and Yale to participate in 10-week internships in the Denver metro area that “complement their collegiate experiences and help them grow as leaders, entrepreneurs, and individuals”.

CLIMB originated in Louisville, Kentucky in 1999 as part of a Yale-based summer internship program, yet its Denver iteration was founded in 2006 and now hosts more than 70 students from its affiliated schools each summer. Students who commit to the program (like me!) work for a multitude of for- and non-profit employers in the area (like CFI!). We’re also provided with group housing, alumni-sponsored events (such as talks from Governor John Hickenlooper and local business execs, a white water rafting and camping extravaganza, and a networking night out at Coors Fields while viewing a Rockies game), and a mentor to provide educational and career advice.

Although only heading into week three, I do already believe that my role within CLIMB has notably made me feel welcome and capable in Colorado while I’m navigating my interests within the environmental sector and realizing where I might want to (and not want to) live/work/play down the line. To delve into learning the ecology and politics of the 14ers (and the greater outdoor recreation industry) is a petty sweet gig, but it’s also neat to come into a new locale with a built-in support group and a bunch of like-minded peers.

Included are photos of my fellow CLIMB interns and me roaming around Denver and Colorado, and of course Brian and me already out on some peaks helping to place CFI’s trail counters as we’re gearing up to again analyze the most popular months of 14er use. Feel free to check out for more information on CLIMB, and I’ll be back soon enough to share updates on our field work findings!

Claire Gomba

Hello! I’m Claire Gomba, CFI’s 2017 CLIMB intern. I call New York home, and I’m a joint Environmental Studies and Geography major studying at Middlebury College in the Champlain Valley of Vermont. Throughout the summer season, I’ll be helping CFI with all office and field aspects of the Sustainable Trails Program. For fun (although who says hiking for a job isn’t fun?), I like to sneak off on long runs, dabble in cooking and baking, and use my sketchbook to depict and decipher the landscapes and people around me.