Internships to remember
I’ve always had a passion for nature. It was this passion that ultimately led me to pursue a degree in environmental studies, which I recently obtained from Wilfrid Laurier University. During my studies, it wasn’t always clear to me what career path I should pursue. But last spring, when I came across a posting for an internship with the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC), it felt like the right place to start a career in conservation.
In April 2019, I was fortunate enough to be offered an internship with NCC's Alberta Region. This meant moving to a new province for four months, into an environment I was unfamiliar with. I remember being both excited and terrified by this opportunity.
2019 Conservation Volunteers event in Alberta when I was a CV intern (Photo by NCC),
During my internship, I assisted with the Conservation Volunteers (CV) program and helped run volunteer events all over the province. From pulling invasive weeds to removing old barbed-wire fencing, this internship truly heightened my appreciation and understanding of what it takes to conserve some of Canada’s diverse landscapes.
This year, when I found out that I would be able to intern with NCC again in my home province of Ontario, I was ecstatic. In my new role as a conservation engagement intern, I would be responsible for assisting with the CV program again, an area I was already familiar with. However, as the global COVID-19 pandemic swept across Canada and NCC put its volunteer program on hold, the nature of my internship underwent some changes.
Despite the uncertainty of my new role, I was incredibly grateful to continue my internship remotely. Over the course of the summer, I helped with a variety of projects, including NCC’s Big Backyard BioBlitz. This virtual event engaged people across the country in a community science effort to observe species diversity. Using iNaturalist, people were challenged to record observations of any living things — plants, animals and fungi — in their backyard or local green space. For me, this event helped me build a stronger connection to nature by taking a closer look at the living world around me.
Carden Alvar where I did field work this fall (Photo by Cameron Curran)
During the final month of my internship, I spent two days in Carden Alvar assisting with invasive shrub removal. The hard work was necessary to remove threats to native wildlife. Non-native invasive species, such as buckthorn, take over spaces that native plants would otherwise fill, and damage habitat for wildlife. The stunning views of the alvars provided a rewarding change of scenery from my living room office. Being able to help with field work also provided a nice reminder of all the times I spent with Conservation Volunteers removing invasive weeds in Alberta last year.
Although my second internship has come to an end, I am excited to be continuing my journey with NCC as the acting communications coordinator for the Ontario Region. After two summers with the Nature Conservancy of Canada, it still feels like the right place to be.