Me on the summit of Mount Washington with my dog, Emma, in August of 2021.

Hi all! I’m Amy Cotter, one of the fall summit interns, and I am thrilled to be working at Mount Washington Observatory.

I was lucky enough to grow up in the Mount Washington Valley, and I spent my childhood hiking in the White Mountains. My family loves exploring the outdoors, and I will always be grateful to my parents for raising me with an appreciation and respect for wilderness and nature. Through my teenage years, I worked at Zeb’s General Store (where I still work part time 8 years later!) and attended Kennett High School in North Conway, NH, where my focus was always on science. I even had the incredible opportunity to compete in the International Science and Engineering Expo in 2018, which was what really opened my eyes to the world of scientific discovery and breadth of what I could research moving forward.

My passion for the environment and science led me out west to attend Colorado College with the plan of either majoring in Environmental Science or Geology. Colorado College operates under the Block Plan, which means students take one intensive class for 3+ hours per day for 3.5 weeks. Through this, I was able to go on field trips and conduct fascinating field work across the state. From my very first field trip during my introduction geology course, I knew this was the right academic path for me.

My friend (and future roommate), Grace King, and me during our first geology field trip in fall of 2019.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit during the middle of my second semester of school, I returned home to the White Mountains. I completed my semester virtually, took my second year of college off during the height of the pandemic with the plan to still graduate on time, and worked full-time as a manager at Zeb’s. In my free time, I had the opportunity to explore the White Mountains and New England on foot, on skis, and on bike. I even began my winter 4,000 footers (which I am still working on!).

Mount Washington and the Presidential Range photographed from the summit of Mount Jackson in January of 2021.

Returning to school and to Colorado in 2021 was quite an adjustment, but I was ultimately thrilled to be back in the world of academia and scientific research. My 2022 was filled with some really incredible experiences: starting my 14ers, studying abroad in France for my French minor, and working for Palmer Land Conservancy in Colorado Springs, Colorado in summer of 2022 as their Stewardship Fellow. Land conservancies and trusts manage conservation easements, which are voluntary, legal agreements between landowner and the government to conserve a property in perpetuity. As their Stewardship Fellow, I conducted annual assessments of both private and public lands under conservation easement in the state of Colorado. Being passionate about land conservation and conservation ecology, it was truly an incredible experience to work in such an interdisciplinary position that involved both environmental science and policy.

I began taking atmospheric science courses my junior year, and this immediately sparked my interest in meteorology and the atmosphere. Then, after having the opportunity to do field work at the high-elevation Storm Peak Laboratory in Steamboat Springs, Colorado during an Atmospheric Chemistry course, I set my mind upon Mount Washington Observatory’s fall internship following my college graduation. At Storm Peak Laboratory, I had the opportunity to study the effect of local and regional wildfire conditions on aerosol properties and persistence. This experience helped me fully recognize the vital scientific and social importance of the research that mountain-top observatories like Storm Peak Laboratory and the Mount Washington Observatory conduct. Additionally, it helped me realize just how much there was to learn about meteorology and that my experience at Storm Peak Laboratory was just the beginning!

Storm Peak Laboratory in Steamboat Springs, Colorado in March of 2023.

I graduated with a B.A. in Environmental Science from Colorado College this past May, and I am very grateful to have had such an incredible, well-rounded college experience. While I truly loved Colorado and my college experience, no mountains compare to the Whites. So, I moved back to New Hampshire and had an incredible summer working at Zeb’s, hiking, trail running, and swimming in rivers!

Me and my college roommates, Mazlyn Freier, Grace King, and Colleen Campbell at our college graduation in May of 2023.

Mount Washington and the White Mountain region have always been an incredibly special and scientifically fascinating place to me. It is such a meaningful and rewarding opportunity to pursue my passion for atmospheric science in such a special place, and I am so grateful to live at the home of and study the world’s worst weather. I am eager to learn as much as I can this fall and am looking forward to winter weather on the summit. I am also excited to improve my weather observation and forecasting skills, research at the Home of the World’s Worst Weather, and spend lots of time with Nimbus!

Amy Cotter, Summit Intern

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