Getting my feet wet as a conservation intern
Although I have only been working with Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) for a few months, my relationship with the organization goes back many years. My family have been NCC supporters for as long as I can remember. We attended Conservation Volunteers events. I would read every copy of the NCC magazine as soon as it arrived. In high school, when I was assigned a project to research a charitable organization, I convinced my group to choose NCC. I have always admired the important work that NCC carries out.
So, when I had the chance to work as a conservation technician intern at NCC’s Norfolk office in Ontario, I was thrilled. Although I have prior experience with research-based field work, this was my first job in field conservation. It continues to be an amazing opportunity to work with the dedicated NCC team here in Norfolk, and I am learning so much!
One of the first lessons out in the field was to keep a positive attitude when faced with setbacks. (Photo by NCC)
On my very first day in the field, I learned, literally, the meaning of the expression “getting your feet wet.” I was wading in a wetland, controlling phragmites, an invasive reed grass. To reach some of the plants, I waded in a little too deep, flooding my boots and getting my feet very wet. That was my first lesson in handling the unexpected: wear taller boots and continue to keep a positive attitude!
Many of the daily tasks carried out for conservation field work are not things you learn in school. My environmental science degree did not prepare me for driving tractors, digging postholes, using commercial landscaping equipment and applying herbicides, so I learned on the job! There were some stressful and some funny moments, but I’ve gained new skills and I am now much more competent as a field technician. I really appreciate the guidance and support of my field co-workers who showed me the ropes.
A beautiful, sandy shoreline at Long Point. One of the many wonderful places I got to explore during my work with NCC (Photo by NCC)
Every day brought new challenges and new rewards. I especially appreciated the days spent trekking through fields and forests identifying species to check for the presence of specific species at risk. The greatest lesson I’ve learned as an NCC intern so far was to observe the world around me and appreciate the beauty in nature each day.
I am so grateful for this opportunity to experience hands-on conservation work with NCC. I certainly hope that I will have a chance to participate in more NCC projects, both in professional and volunteer capacity, in the future. But I am sure that my relationship with NCC will continue one way or another for many years to come!
Are you or someone you know looking for an opportunity to work in conservation? Check our Conservation Internship program page for current openings!