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An Open Letter to Future Land Stewards

Conservation work can be uncomfortable. That’s a good thing.

I applied for the Maine Coast Heritage Trust internship thinking that this experience was going to be something that I would be very comfortable with and do with ease. But in the first week working at the Mahoosuc Land Trust, I realized I had a lot to learn.

I was flooded with information on how things work and who to know. I was tired, overwhelmed, and uncomfortable. While working in a garden in Rumford with various Mahoosuc volunteers, one of them pointed out how I was like this bean plant pictured here—a small bean with much to learn now sprouting into a growing plant. Growing is what it’s all about, right?

Jump at every opportunity.

That first week I was told that after work on Wednesdays there are “work days” where volunteers come and help work on the trails on Valentine Farm. I didn’t know anyone and was already tired from my 8-hour work day, so the first Wednesday I didn’t go.

As I sat on my couch that Wednesday night watching T.V. I couldn’t help but wonder what they were working on or who was there. The following Wednesday I decided to join them and I am so happy I did! I was able to meet more amazing people who dedicate their time to the Mahoosuc Land Trust. They were extremely welcoming and excited to have me there.

Ask lots of questions.

There are so many different moving parts of a land trust, and you won’t know what you don’t know until you ask a question. I have never met a mean person at a land trust or someone unwilling to help. They are there to help you learn and to be successful in your internship. So far this has been the most informative work experience I’ve had—and I still have several weeks to go!

Don’t give up—the work makes the reward all the sweeter.

While hiking one of our fee properties recently, I started feeling gassed pretty early on. The elevation was more than I was used to and the bugs were absolutely killing me. Luckily, the amazing people I was doing the hike with were extremely encouraging and pressed me to continue. A short while later the trees opened up to a breathtaking view of the Androscoggin River and the town I would be spending the next couple of months in. It was a pretty special moment.

Alyda Twilley is from Gorham and going to be a sophomore at Hobart and Williams Smith Colleges. She’s one of five 2017 Maine Coast Heritage Trust Conservation Interns. This summer she’s working with Mahoosuc Land Trust.


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