My first month as an intern

NCC's 2018 Alberta Conservation Interns group shot (Photo by NCC)

NCC's 2018 Alberta Conservation Interns group shot (Photo by NCC)

July 12, 2018 | by Hannah Schaepsmeyer

Birds, barbed wire and brome, oh my! The first month of my internship with the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s (NCC’s) Conservation Volunteers (CV) program in the Alberta Region has been busier than I ever could have imagined. From intern training to the start of the CV season, I have had the opportunity to travel all around the province and learn from the incredible NCC staff and volunteers.

Three days into my internship, I travelled down to Pincher Creek with the CV team. There, we met interns from across the province for training. We learned all about NCC, health and safety, field etiquette and much more! It was a great opportunity to get to know all of the interns and their managers.

Everyone came from different corners of the province and had incredibly diverse backgrounds. Some were returning interns and others had experience working in different levels of government or with other non-profit organizations. Whether it be birding, wildflowers or fishing, all had a unique passion for nature! After three days of training it was time to say goodbye and head back to our respective offices. However, as there are CV events taking place across the province, I knew it was only a matter of time until I would get to see everyone again.

Conservation Volunteers at the Crowsnest Pass weed pull event (Photo by David Thomas)

Conservation Volunteers at the Crowsnest Pass weed pull event (Photo by David Thomas)

Only a day after intern training ended, the Alberta Region kicked off the CV season with a weed pull in the Crowsnest Pass. With rain in the forecast and the event having been previously rescheduled, we arrived on site unsure of how many volunteers would show up. This was when I learned my first lesson about NCC volunteers ― they are one dedicated bunch! A hard-working group of passionate volunteers arrived eager to get going.

Prepped for the looming rain, the volunteers quickly got to work. The fearless team made a huge dent on decreasing the density of invasive downy brome and blueweed on the property. We capped the day off with a lovely hike of the scenic property, with stunning wildflowers along the way and a spectacular view of Frank Slide from the top of the ridge! I couldn’t think of a better event to kick off the season.

For our next event, we had the unique opportunity to hold a fence removal on a conservation agreement property. Leading up to this event, I had heard a lot about barbed wire fence and how I was going to grow to despise it by the end of the summer! Unnecessary infrastructure such as fences pose hazards and barriers to wildlife. Their removal helps to create safe passages and connects habitat for wildlife. Having never removed a fence before, I was wary of how the event was going to go. My nerves quickly subsided when we arrived at the property and the owner greeted us with incredible hospitality.

With the property owner as our guide, the volunteers and staff made quick work of over 500 metres of fencing. After its removal we returned to the owner’s garage, where we were greeted by a lovely spread of snacks. But the hospitality didn’t end there! The owner generously led the group on a tour of her property. This event was an incredible opportunity to learn about conservation agreement (easement) properties from the perspective of an easement holder.

Only one month in, and already a million stories that could be told! Since these events occurred, we have had another fence pull, species surveys and in-office workshops with corporate sponsors.

I have enjoyed the opportunity to work alongside volunteers in a variety of natural areas, learning more about the ecosystems and species within them. The Conservation Volunteers continue to amaze me with their incredible work ethic and passion for nature. It has been quite the whirlwind, and I am excited to see how the rest of the summer goes!

If you are interested in joining us as a volunteer this summer, check out our Conservation Volunteers events page.

Hannah's internship is funded in part by the United Nations of Canada.

Hannah Schaepsmeyer (Photo by NCC)

About the Author

Hannah Schaepsmeyer is the Conservation Volunteers program manager with the Nature Conservancy of Canada's Alberta Region.

Read more about Hannah Schaepsmeyer.

More by this author »