Learning from the Land

I am currently an Environmental Planning and Policy student at the University of Southern Maine. In my fall semester of 2018, my current host supervisor at the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust, Toby, came to my Environmental Planning class to speak about land trusts. This piqued my interest about land conservation, which led me to apply for the internship with Maine Coast Heritage Trust. 

I was excited to learn about how land trusts apply to an environmental planning perspective. The internship has offered learning experiences and leadership opportunities that I wouldn’t have found anywhere else. The variety of being a land steward is exciting; each day there is a new task to accomplish and something new to learn. From brush cutting, trail clearing, bridge building, to walking conservation easements and leading trail walks, there is always a lot of work to be done. 

“The variety of being a land steward is exciting; each day there is a new task to accomplish and something new to learn.”

It is definitely hard work. My first day we carried a large portion of lumber into the woods to build bridges over muddy areas of the brook. Seeing first-hand the hard work and long hours that are put into creating trails also makes this an incredibly humbling experience. It is easy to take trails for granted. 

Entering this internship, I was excited to simply be outside and work for a greater benefit. I grew up spending a lot of time in the woods and I knew that would be involved in this internship. However, I never expected to become comfortable using all kinds of tools, gain a significantly stronger sense of direction, or connect with the local community as much as I have. 

I have really enjoyed our outreach tabling days at the Gorham Farmers Market, whether we are providing locals with information or they are telling us stories about their visits to the preserves. It feels very rewarding to be involved in an organization that creates a sense of community in the area.

“By far the most important skill this internship has taught me is how to manage my own time and work by myself.”

Presumpscot Regional Land Trust is working to engage more children in our conservation efforts so we have been working closely with a number of different summer day camps in the area. It is refreshing to see the kids learning from and engaging with the environment, as well as asking questions about land conservation. Many of them are very excited to help with our projects and to simply be outdoors enjoying the beautiful weather we’ve been having.

Local kids help build a bridge on a Presumpscot Regional Land Trust preserve.

By far the most important skill this internship has taught me is how to manage my own time and work by myself. Two of my main projects this summer have been setting up and walking conservation easements as well as creating a pollinator garden at our Black Brook Preserve in Windham. Both projects have pushed me to become more organized with my plans and stream lined with my decisions and communication.

This internship has also taught me how important land trusts are to an overall environmental planning perspective as well as environmental education to their surrounding communities. It has been an incredible learning experience that I am thankful to have the opportunity to be a part of.

Kyla Curtis is one of ten 2019 Maine Coast Heritage Trust Conservation Interns. She is working with Presumpscot Regional Land Trust.

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