Putting Theory Into Practice

I’ve been very lucky to work for Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust this summer as part of the stewardship internship program run by Maine Coast Heritage Trust. While there are many enriching aspects of my experience, one that stands out to me is how much I’ve learned over the past eight and a half weeks.

Out of the classroom and into the woods

In addition to the actual practice of stewardship, my time at BTLT has taught me about problem solving generally. Whereas my college courses have given me the chance to address problems from a more theoretical, abstract perspective, the hours I’ve spent working on trails and with other stewards has shown me how to tackle problems in a group when they come up in the field.

“Working in small groups [has] shown me how to best be a team player, to know when to defer, and when to press forward with an idea or solution.”

Many minds are better than one

Connor helped volunteers plant carrot seeds at the Tom Settlemire Community Garden in Brunswick in July. 

Working in small groups this summer has shown me the power of having multiple minds focusing on a solution to a problem, so much of which comes down to debating different options and generating creative alternatives from multiple points of view. It’s also shown me how best to be a team player, to know when to defer, and when to press forward with an idea or solution.

Learning new skills

This type of problem solving also involves hands-on work and an understanding of the practice of stewardship. Much of the actual day-to-day work of stewardship was fairly new to me so, in addition to learning about how to operate a chainsaw or design a GIS map or build a bog bridge or route a new trail, this internship has been a great experience in learning how to improve new skills and adapt to new situations.

“It’s been wonderful to meet so many interesting and wise people here in Brunswick who are committed to protecting the environment and the health of their communities.”

Growing as a person

The number of new situations I’ve been placed in has helped me to understand the combination of a good attitude, persistence, willingness to make mistakes, humility, and confidence that goes into learning new skills quickly and completely. I feel that I will be a more adaptable, versatile person as a result.

Good people doing good work

Skolfield Preserve

Connor coordinated with other volunteers to make repairs to a bridge at Skolfield Preserve.

Another way in which my internship has broadened my perspective is by allowing me to be a part of and observe the work of the land trust community. It’s been wonderful to meet so many interesting and wise people here in Brunswick who are committed to protecting the environment and the health of their communities.

Being able to talk with these folks has shown me what environmental community building looks like. Whether it’s in the office, at the Crystal Spring Farmers’ market, or out on a property monitoring visit, being around the people who are making the connections between community and environmental health, who are strengthening these two necessary elements of our lives, has been inspiring for me.

Doing my part

That being said, as someone interested in how communities relate to the environment and how they can best manage that relationship, working at BTLT has been about as informative an experience I could ask for and for that I am so grateful. I look forward to using what I’ve learned and the connections I’ve made over the summer to contribute to a healthier, more fulfilling relationship between communities and the land.

Connor Rockett is a rising senior at Bowdoin College studying Government and French. He’s one of seven MCHT Conservation Interns. He’s working for Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust.


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