Preserve photos and essay by Lauren Farrell
Lauren Farrell, an intern from Huntington North High School, shares her passion for the outdoors and her work with ACRES over the past 4 months:
Because of my interest in nature and the outdoors, I am delighted that ACRES accepted me as an intern this semester. I am interested in pursuing environmental studies in college. ACRES gave me an idea of career paths I may like to pursue. Due to my positive experience learning more about the characteristics of a land trust, I am interested in pursuing environmental studies. Because I was responsible to create my own schedule, actively work, and meet deadlines for projects, I learned skills like time management and organization.
One of the first activities I completed for my internship was hiking all the preserves near Huntington, Wabash, and Roanoke. Upon visiting these preserves, I had many positive experiences that allowed me to understand ACRES’ mission and purpose. Of all the preserves I visited, Hathaway Preserve at Ross Run and Pehkokia Woods are the ones I recommend to those in the Huntington area!
Hathaway Preserve at Ross Run offers the best of both worlds: a field lush with seasonal wildflowers and a thick forest with cliff overlooks. I felt foreign among all the grasshoppers and deer when they noticed me; I had never realized how disruptive humans truly are in an otherwise unbothered habitat. Hathaway is located far away from busy roads and cellphone service, which disconnected me from the world. Simply walking through the fields and observing this preserve’s characteristics make me appreciate this hidden section of land even more. I highly recommend the trip to Hathaway Preserve at Ross Run, especially for those searching to find themselves among nature.
Pehkokia Woods left by far the most memorable impression on me. This preserve was the first and last one I visited, and where I formed my initial impression of ACRES. I had a great first experience here on a warm day in August when all the trees and wildlife were thriving. I was lucky enough to spot a deer here on more than one occasion. What makes Pehkokia so unique is the feeling of being in a completely separate world. The feeling of being immediately immersed into the trees is powerful, even in the fall! I recommend this preserve to anyone looking for a fun day hike in the woods. “Pehkokia” means peace, which is the ultimate feeling with which any explorer can leave.
Another preserve in Huntington I visited frequently was Tel-Hy. Here, autumn olive, a non-native, invasive shrub that easily supersedes native plants, thrives. Over the course of several weeks, I made many trips to Tel-Hy to remove and treat this plant. The labor was not easy, but was well worth my time. Every time I packed up and left this preserve, I left with the feeling that I truly had the opportunity to help manage and benefit the land of Tel-Hy.
One of the fun projects I had the opportunity to help with was creating a forthcoming 200 Year Ecological Reflections website. This new project by ACRES requires a tremendous amount of research into both the Wing Haven preserve and its previous owners, Ben and Helen Swenson. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to sort through over half a century old artifacts and artwork by Helen Swenson. Her work, inspired by nature itself, allowed me to envision the world through her eyes.
I would like to thank ACRES for providing me with countless opportunities and eye-opening experiences. My understanding and appreciation for nature and the environment has grown tremendously as I explored ACRES’ goals.
I am thankful I was able to intern at ACRES, and will continue to share their goal of “forever”.