Lessons from a summer Downeast

When I found out that Maine Coast Heritage Trust was selecting me to work at the Downeast Salmon Federation, I was incredibly excited, but I could not help but think, “what am I possibly going to do in Columbia Falls all summer?” 


Now that I have been in the area for several weeks, I have been reminded why it’s important to give new things (and places) a chance. You never know when you’re going to be rewarded with the most amazing views, experiences, and memories. 

When I walked into the office on day one, I was greeted by friendly faces. This first day was filled with saltmarsh research. DSF gave me a chance to explore new ecosystems, make connections with landowners, staff members, and other organizations across the state. What I didn’t know then, was that this group of people would become the most welcoming support system I’ve ever come to work with. 

Although my role with DSF largely involved providing educational opportunities, I found that most often, I was the student. Learning about the beautiful lands that are protected by DSF and other land trusts gave me a new appreciation for the natural world and the people who work to protect it. While watching eagles on the river, learning about developmental stages of Atlantic Salmon, and participating in a Tern census, I was reminded that like the wildlife coexisting within their ecosystems, the people who run land trusts too must work together within an ecosystem to flourish. 

As I drive to work each day, I have noticed more and more protected lands around me. I find myself wondering how many times the same people drive past the same conservation sites without stopping to appreciate what goes on beyond just the conserved land. Do they realize what’s gone into protecting that piece of land? Every piece of protected property has its own story to tell. I’ve found excitement and joy in discovering these places and their stories. I know I will continue to do so long after this position.  


Being able to learn the importance of conservation through field work, outreach, and education has strengthened my appreciation for the outdoors. Whether I am scoping out a new easement property or analyzing trails for required maintenance, I’ve learned why conservation is so important.

While some may wonder why a small stream needs to be protected, I know the land that stream is on has been carefully selected to help protect migratory Atlantic Salmon. DSF works to enhance the journey of this species (and others) by protecting critical migratory areas. 

When I first heard about this program through an Ecology and Environmental Science seminar course several months ago, I never fully imagined the impact this internship would have on me. Being able to represent MCHT and DSF is an honor that I cannot fully express. I am so grateful for the opportunity to work towards conservation goals that I am passionate about.

Despite my initial hesitations to live somewhere new for the summer, I have fallen in love with Downeast Maine. The community is welcoming, the views are stunning, and the work has been fun and educational. I look forward to sharing my experiences with others. I know, the memories and the experiences will outlast the mosquito bites and the bottles of bug spray!