We surveyed a site relatively close to the Helena office and were able to use a side-by-side ATV with snow tracks to get close to the site, and then used snowshoes to walk in the rest of the way. We surveyed 10 locations in a transect, and at each location we measured both the depth, and mass of the snow, which is used to calculate the percentage of snow volume that is actually water (a metric called snow water equivalent) at that time and location.
In addition to the snow survey, the next day I was also invited to participate in an outdoor education day called Snow School, where Forest Service employees engage with middle schoolers in short educational sessions about the outdoors. I was conveniently tasked to help with the snow measurement class, which put my newly learned snow water measurement skills to work. The other instructors and I talked with around 100 seventh graders, showing them the process of measuring the depth and density of snow and calculating snow water equivalent. We also explained the importance of measuring snow for water use decisions, and how the amount of available water could impact their day-to-day lives. The snow school participants seemed to enjoy being outside on a lovely sunny day and learning about snow. So did I, and while these experiences were well outside of my previous professional experience, it was nice just to be out of the office for a couple days in some beautiful terrain.