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In late June, we wrapped up our seventh successful season of the Harris Center-Keene State College conservation internship program, a two-month summer internship experience for undergraduate students in environmental studies, biology, and related fields at KSC.
Under the guidance of Harris Center staff and KSC professor Karen Seaver, a team of four undergraduate interns − Gianni DeMasco, Katelyn Fournier, Kristina Tufo, and Julia Yates − explored many facets of the Harris Center’s diverse conservation, education, and stewardship work.
The 2019 KSC conservation internship team documents a vernal pool on Harris Center-conserved land in Harrisville. Note the spotted salamander egg masses in the foreground -- and the need for scarfs in early May! (photo © Gianni DeMasco)
The 2019 KSC conservation interns pause in front of a newly-documented vernal pool during the first full week of their internship. (photo © Karen Seaver)
In May and June, the interns conducted conservation easement and campsite monitoring on Harris Center-conserved lands along the shores of Spoonwood Pond -- canoe-access only!(photo © Brett Amy Thelen)
The interns use an iPad to record culvert data for inclusion in a statewide database of road-stream crossings. (photo © Brett Amy Thelen)
KSC conservation intern Katelyn Fournier measures the Diameter at Breast Height (DBH) of a large oak tree on newly-conserved land in Harrisville. (photo © Brett Amy Thelen)
A Diverse, Hands-on Introduction to the Conservation Field
Together, the team assessed 23 road-stream crossings for fish passage and flood risk, documented 15 new vernal pools, surveyed 15 forest community inventory plots, measured and monitored 7 American chestnut plantings, surveyed 6 redbacked salamander research plots, monitored 2 conservation easements, pulled scores of invasive plants, assisted with several school and community education programs, and performed trail maintenance on the Jaquith and Eastview Trails, among other tasks.
As the internship drew to a close, all four students expressed a deep appreciation for their time with the Harris Center. For Katelyn, the internship “was vital in bridging the gap between what I learned in the classroom and valuable real-life field experience.”
“This internship has influenced my life in an incredible way,” reflected Julia. “Culvert assessments . . . showed me one of the many connections between environment and society, [and trail maintenance] showed me the incredibly hard work that goes into keeping trails open and accessible to the public. From this point forward, I will never look at hiking trails without feeling grateful for the people who manage them.”