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My Summer Internship

My name is Hayley Gibbs, and I am from Wallingford, CT. I’m currently a rising junior studying ecological restoration at Paul Smith’s College which is located in the Adirondack Park in upstate New York. This summer I was an intern with Blue Hill Heritage Trust, where I worked alongside two other interns: Apple and Emily. My internship was nothing short of amazing and I had so much fun learning about the field of conservation work!Gibbs2

Much of my internship consisted of maintaining Blue Hill Heritage Trust’s (BHHT) trails to keep them safe and walkable. I used hedge trimmers, loppers, weed whackers, and chainsaws to cut back vegetation and fallen trees. Aside from trail work, we joined George as he monitored various conservation easements the trust holds, spoke to the landowners, and learned more about how conservation easements work.

I also worked along BHHT’s forester Sandy to conduct forest inventory plots in our Surry Forest property. Here we set up a circular plot and recorded the diameter at breast height of trees within our plot (that were larger than a specified size), the species of those trees, as well as their height. This data will be used to monitor the forest’s growth over time. We also conducted wetland inventory plots in Surry Forest. For this, we set up various transects through a wetland, and every 5 meters along this transect we laid down a Dobbenmeyer square and recorded the different plant species found within this square as well as the percentage of the square they covered. Both of these activities taught me so much about plant identification and why it is so important to understand and monitor the properties a land trust owns.

In addition to outdoor work, we had our fair share of indoor work and got to understand how a non-profit operates and see what goes on behind the scenes. We talked with many wonderful people on the peninsula about finances, foundation work, and more; as well as how they all connect to the work that land trusts do. I got to learn how to raise funds for different projects within the trust, and even got to help our Development Director Chrissy write a grant for an upcoming property.

Perhaps the most exciting part for me was being able to coordinate my own outreach event with the help of BHHT’s outreach coordinator Landere. I was tasked with picking a topic I was passionate about and creating an event, designing a flier, promoting the event on the radio, and sending it to newspapers. I chose to hold a pollinator scavenger hunt for young kids where I taught them about local pollinators and their importance, showed them how to raise monarch butterflies, and then had them participate in a scavenger hunt to find these pollinators. Then we made seed balls with native plants for them to take home. It was great to pass on my own passion to these kids and see them get excited about protecting our pollinators.Gibbs4

Overall, this internship was an incredible experience, and one that I will continue to share throughout the years. I learned so much more than I expected to about how land trusts work and the different types of work that go on within them. I am so thankful that MCHT has given me this experience and prepared me for this type of work in the future.