A Fantastic Opportunity

My name is Jack Wolfenden and I am from North Andover, Massachusetts. I am a rising sophomore at the University of Maine, studying Ecology and Environmental Science as a part of the College of Natural Sciences, Forestry and Agriculture.

Finding the right fit

The Maine Coast Heritage Trust Conservation Internship Program provided my first opportunity to work in a professional setting; before this I was working various part-time jobs in the Merrimack Valley area. What drew me to apply to Maine Coast Heritage Trust’s Program this summer was the desire to see what private land stewardship entails, as well as to take an opportunity to grow my professional skills. After one short interview, I was lucky enough to be chosen by Coastal Mountains Land Trust in Camden.

Going into this internship, I wasn’t totally sure what to expect. I had applied to Coastal Mountains in hope of working on one of their invasive plants projects and ultimately developing my personal and professional skills. Thankfully, I was provided a fantastic opportunity to advance in all three of these areas.

A healthy mix of experiences

Through tackling day-to-day stewardship tasks, such as boundary monitoring and caring for trails and preserves, I have gotten a fantastic opportunity to understand what land stewardship entails and how to be an effective member of a land stewardship team.

These tasks are also helping me know how to better understand and apply the education and skills I already have under my belt. Thankfully, I wasn’t stuck doing the same tasks day in and day out, so I had a healthy blend of repetition and mixing up the schedule.

Learning more about invasive species management

Knotweed removal at the Bald Mountain trailhead in Camden.

Working on Coastal Mountains’ organic knotweed removal project has been a large and important part of this summer for me. Through working with volunteers, including a group of middle schoolers from Camden-Rockport Middle School (thanks again for your help!), I have learned how to be more effective at directing and working in groups.

In my time spent working alone on the project, I’ve learned how interesting and fascinating invasive plants and their biology can be. The conscious effort by Coastal Mountains to avoid the use of herbicide in an effort to cause as little external environmental damage also lends an important dynamic to the project. This has helped me to better understand that the easy route may not necessarily be the best route to pursue, as well as how alternative solutions can help better a difficult situation.

Feeling grateful

Overall, I am extremely appreciative of the entire staff and the directors at Coastal Mountains for how they’ve given me an important opportunity for this summer. They have made me feel welcome, like another member of the full-time staff. I also appreciate how one of their directors was gracious enough to open her property to me for the summer.

Thank you to all of those involved, you all have made the summer incredible for me and have helped me grow and develop my professional abilities.

Jack Wolfenden was one of ten 2019 Maine Coast Heritage Trust Conservation Interns. He worked for Coastal Mountains Land Trust.