Dust covered and stout were the first things I noticed. His accent was also hard to miss. Rowdy Walch talked with me about his job as Range Tech overseeing wild horses. Wild mustangs roam the desert surrounding Enterprise (the small town where Walch is from). The Forest Service, in partnership with the BLM, is charged with managing and studying their movement. He’s no stranger to the hills he works in. He’s grown up searching the hills for wild horses, now he’s getting paid for it.
“I always have enjoyed working outdoors,” Walch says. “It’s something worth doing.” Though he’s been working with the Forest Service for several years, he has started attending SUU to get the education needed to secure a full time position with the agency. His internship through the IIC provides an opportunity to delve even deeper into his goals.
“It’s a really good deal, it helps me get through school, it gives me a job and it looks really good when you’re looking for employment. It comes from a credible source, with the University backing it.” Walch said.
He drives a Forest Service truck around the large area that is Dixie National Forest. Though he stays close to Enterprise and the Pine Valley area, they have him scout out back roads and canyons looking for horses. As we rode together on one of these rocky roads, he told me about the balance he hopes other land agencies can achieve through their management. Growing up on a farm himself, he sees things from both the rancher’s and public land’s perspective in dealing with variables like wild horses. The land, he told me, is supposed to be dealt with responsibly from all directions. He said his mentors have helped him learn that balance. “I’d say probably the most valuable is teaching the hands on. That kind of makes everything come together. You get to learn the ropes a lot better than you do learning in a classroom.”
We found some wild horses, but the wind wasn’t in our favor. They ran from us once they caught our scent. He said he’s seen the herd before and they’ll be back where he can get a better look at them. He seems to love his job, working hard, exploring the countryside he loves so well, and looking after the mustangs his family taught him to admire.
“It’s been a good summer, being out all the time and it’s just a good job, that’s all there is to it.” Walch says, “Everything from working with the ranchers, getting on the ground doing that type of stuff, to the management side, to the wild horse and burro program. It’s just great all the way around.”
His internship fits him perfectly for everything from his major to where he grew up. With hundreds of internships like this, it’s no wonder the IIC is an award winning program allowing students to pursue careers and passions.