GTPulse: Grass River Natural Area Internships for Summer 2021

My first internship was at a farmers’ market in my hometown. I got to walk around and take pictures of all the friendly faces selling their goods and ask them questions about what they do and why they do it. It was wonderful. A part of me valued the experience so much because I knew that’d I’d probably never spend that much time outdoors for work again. Another part of me valued it because, like most internships, it had been a competitive process to get it. And this one wasn’t even paid.

Internships are necessary for any college student to gain hands-on experience in the profession they’re studying. Getting a paid internship is a big deal. Getting to spend most of your time outdoors is a blessing. The upcoming summer internships at Grass River Natural Area in Bellaire combine both.

“Typically, most interns end up coming on sometime in May. That’s when we get into the height of spring field trips. So interns will start out helping a lot with our school programs, learning the different classes we teach with students, they get to shadow a bit with some of our longtime naturalists. Then when they know the program, they themselves get to teach the classes,” said Education Director James Dake.

Interns can also look forward to getting to know the trails, streams, and wildlife within some of the 1,492 acres. They’ll learn distinctions between different animal tracks, bugs, trails, and more.

“Once the summer season starts we’ll have a lot of visitors from all over out hiking the trails. So part of the internship is staffing the Education Center to provide information to the folks hiking the trails. We also have summer programming. So we have a summer camp, and they’ll help with those programs as well.”

With COVID-19, there was only one internship open for last summer. GRNA typically has up to three internships open, and newly graduated high school students and current college students are all welcome to apply. However, applicants have to be pursuing a field of study related to environmental interests.

The interns get to help out with some conservation programs. They’ll be able to monitor the health of various flora, as well as the health of the streams.

“We monitor the creeks and the river in both the spring and the fall. So we have teams of volunteers go out and collect a variety of macroinvertebrates and they all get identified. Based on what we find in the streams we can kind of track the health of it at any given time.”

Part of the early training is dedicated to giving interns time to explore the seven miles of trails. Since they’ll eventually be leading people on walks, they’ll need to know the area well. Interns will also have a staff of seasoned naturalists to talk to about their various environmental ideas and knowledge. The experience provides an opportunity for growth and leadership skills. A previous intern Andrew Carman thinks so.

“My summer as an environmental education intern with the Grass River Natural Area has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.  I began the summer with hesitant optimism that I might discover the beginnings of a meaningful and inspiring career.  Within a matter of weeks that hesitation has faded and been replaced with gratitude and a sense of purpose that I have never before felt in the workplace,” he said.

Other interns have been moved by the experience as well. Emma Steele said that helping kids appreciate nature was rewarding, and Liam Fries said that it helped him shape his life’s future.

“The faculty and staff that work to make Grass River the majestic place that it is today cannot be praised enough. It has forever changed my outlook on nature, and has influenced the direction of my academic pursuits considerably, all while feeling as though I was part of something much greater at Grass River.”

Do you have a college student or college student to be who would love this opportunity? Have them send a cover letter, resume, and references to james@grassriver.org. Applications will be accepted now throughout March. Interviews will be scheduled later in March, and interns will start in May.

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Categories: GTPulse