By Tyler Allen Explore Big Sky Senior Editor
BIG SKY – The Big Sky Community Corp.’s first unpaid intern may never have come here were it not for a season-ending ski injury. Ben Enseleit found the local nonprofit while recovering from a torn MCL last winter.
Enseleit was visiting friends in Big Sky Resort during the New Year’s holiday, nursing the injury he endured on the first day of ski season at Lookout Pass Ski Area, when he saw a flier for one of BSCC’s fundraising events.
The Great Falls native contacted BSCC Executive Director Jessie Wiese, and during the next few months the two discussed how Enseleit could help the parks and trails nonprofit.
When he finished his junior year at the University of Montana in May, Enseleit returned to Big Sky and has since crafted a comprehensive parks and trails maintenance handbook, worked once a week as a counselor for Camp Big Sky, walked miles of trails, and written a weekly blog post for Visit Big Sky.
“What hasn’t he done?” said Wiese. “[Enseilet] has stepped up to every challenge we’ve given him.”
The degree in recreation management Enseleit is pursuing gives him a valuable skill set, Wiese added, especially his organization, writing abilities and knack for working with the group’s volunteers. But Enseleit came to the outdoor recreation field in a roundabout way.
“I started out as a pharmacy student but didn’t really have a passion for it,” said the soft-spoken 21-year-old. “I got into a wilderness education class and figured out I wanted to do something in natural resources, [which] turned into recreation management.”
While he didn’t begin his education in the outdoor field, Enseleit comes by it naturally. His extended family has a few cabins around the state from Lincoln to the Smith River and the tiny town of Monarch, south of Great Falls.
“I’ve always been outside all season long skiing, biking, hiking and exploring lakes,” Enseleit said. “I like the outdoors a lot, it’s where I spent most of my childhood.”
In addition to the 30-50 hours a week he volunteers to BSCC, he spends five nights a week working for the Country Market in Big Sky’s Meadow Village. Despite his significant time commitment to the internship, he doesn’t slow down when he punches in each evening as a cashier, according to Country Market owner Lynn Anderson.
“I think he does a fabulous job balancing it all,” Anderson said. “I never feel like we get his leftover time… I’d like to have more Bens. He has all the things you want in an employee, he’s hardworking and reliable.”
Enseleit plans to come back to Big Sky after graduating next spring, and eventually pursue a master’s degree in something related to nonprofit or business management. “You need to know [those skills] to make an organization successful,” he said.
Whether he continues working with BSCC next year or not, his stint this summer won’t likely be the last internship experience for the organization.
“I’ll definitely be looking for interns in the future,” Wiese said. “This has been a really good experience… I wasn’t sure what to expect.” Wherever he lands in Big Sky next summer, Enseleit should be an asset to his next employer.
“Someone’s going to be lucky to have him when he finishes school,” Anderson said.