Posted by: Elijah Stewart

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  • 10/25/2023

Protecting Land & Evading Turkeys

Imagine it’s your first week as a stewardship intern for ACRES. Excitement, mixed with a hint of nervousness, bubbles inside as you embark on a new adventure, eager to acquire valuable skills for your future career.

One of your first assignments is spraying non-native invasive species. As you secure a backpack filled with herbicides, you suddenly find yourself staring at the sky. The weight of the pack is heavier than you anticipated. A flush of embarrassment warms your cheeks as you look to find help, only to spot your fellow intern cornered by a wild turkey.

This incident marked the beginning of ACRES two summer interns, Anela Hill and Ben Dimino, who can’t help but laugh when recalling the details. Since then, Anela easily handles the weight of a backpack sprayer, and Ben can proudly say he outmaneuvered a determined turkey.

Anela works to transplant native sprouts during her internship.

Both Anela and Ben are students from Purdue University’s Forestry and Natural Resources Department. Reflecting on their time with ACRES, they feel it’s been beneficial for their personal and professional growth.

Anela, who aspires to research bats, explains, “Being out on the preserves allows for a more in-depth understanding of the ecosystem. Understanding where your focus species lives is one of the biggest components in studying them.”

Ben, with a passion for a career in wildland fire management, shares, “Spending time outside and seeing my progress in managing strenuous work has been rewarding. Knowing that in the future I’ll likely spend my workdays outdoors, my body feels better prepared to handle the wear and tear that comes with working in the heat with heavy equipment.”

Among the various tasks they were assigned, they particularly enjoyed planting native sprouts and exploring ACRES properties with specialized scientists. Their time with ACRES not only provided them with knowledge and experience but also left them with unique stories to share. Many thanks to the Olive B. Cole Foundation and ACRES Board Member Dr. Scott Mattson for supporting the intern program.