Posted by: ACRES Land Trust

  • 07/04/2024

ACRES Interns: Where Are They Now?

Thanks to support from the Olive B. Cole Foundation, ACRES hand-selects several students to accompany the stewardship crew on their summertime endeavors. These young minds learn the ways of conservation and form relationships with field professionals.

At the end of summer, participants part ways and embark on their own journeys. Where are they now? What do they do? Who did they become?


Arborist with Harrison McPhee Inc. in Massachusetts,
2019 ACRES Intern from Purdue University

After graduating from Purdue University, my wife and I moved out east, where I have worked as an arborist ever since. Arboriculture is not necessarily a conservation career, but the ACRES internship confirmed I was on the right track to work outdoors and in nature! During the internship I became very familiar with herbicide application. I carried that knowledge into my arborist job, where I received my ISA arborist certification and Massachusetts pesticide applicator license. The biggest internship takeaway was how much of a problem invasive species are—it’s a constant battle for management.

I have lots of fond memories from my internship. I remember electrofishing with wildlife biologists and other natural resources professionals in Cedar Creek. It was fascinating to see the process of surveying fish and how many different species of fish we found. Another time, we saw a state endangered Marsh Wren while checking an ACRES property by the Elkhart River.


Wildlife Major at Purdue University in Indiana,
2023 ACRES Intern from Purdue University

I am still finishing my degree, but I have an undergraduate research position studying habitat occupancy of the Hoary and Eastern Red Bat. I am applying to graduate schools, hopefully pursuing my master’s at an east coast university. I use a fair bit of data collected from ACRES properties in my research and upcoming publication. The internship was an excellent experience; I was able to see the places where the data was collected firsthand. I’m able to provide details about the vegetation cover, topography and other landscape details to my team.

One of my biggest internship takeaways is that keeping a landscape healthy requires getting creative with a combination of management techniques. I also learned Indiana has a widely diverse appearance and variety of habitats, even within the same county! My favorite memory as an intern was helping Purdue Fort Wayne survey bats at an ACRES preserve. Using mist nets, we were able to catch the state and federally endangered Indiana bat, then attach a telemetry transmitter to find its day roost!


North Region Environmental Biologist with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Division of Fish and Wildlife, 2019 ACRES Intern from the University of Saint Francis

The ACRES internship was my first field experience. It strengthened my resume and encouraged me to explore conservation careers. I learned about so many plants, animals and threats to natural communities, especially how to identify and manage invasive species. I use all these skills daily as the North Region Environmental Biologist! I’m also able to network with other professionals using the relationships I created as an intern, leading to many partnerships and collaborations.

A big internship takeaway was realizing the importance and impact of non-government conservation groups. Seeing groups with their own agency making a palpable change in their communities is a precious thing.

One of my favorite memories was spending the entire day in a bog on my birthday. We were with a phenomenal botanist and saw so many unique plants. All of us were trying hard to stay upright and not fall through the sphagnum moss while pushing through the dense shrubs, but I was having a ball.


Agriculture Major at Texas State University in Texas, 2020 and 2021 ACRES Intern

I will graduate in May with a degree in Agriculture, with a concentration in Horticulture and a minor in Plant and Soil Science. After my first summer with ACRES, I moved down to central Texas, seeking adventure and studies in agriculture.

I was looking forward to soil science and similar courses before my ACRES experiences, but after interning, I was reassured I was moving in the right direction. I was exposed to many new skills, tools, species and more. My experiences were memorable and could not be replicated in a classroom setting.

One of my big internship takeaways was the concept of acting as a steward to the land. It is a philosophy from ACRES that will stick with me forever as I continue to make meaningful positive changes in my academic work in agriculture.

I look back fondly on my general internship experiences, considering how much appreciation I gained for my natural surroundings. I constantly ask questions, identify and learn about things like plants, insects and birds. ACRES influenced me to appreciate my surroundings and become a more curious person.

Thank you, past interns, for sharing your stories and passions. You are all doing amazing things in the natural world! We’re excited to share more intern stories in the Fall Quarterly.

ACRES looks for summer interns every year. Interested in learning more about this
summer experience? Visit acreslandtrust.org/boardstaff/internship

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