Summer adventures with interns in Atlantic Canada
Summer's End (Photo by Julia Ball/NCC staff)
Summer may be over, but the adventures continue for Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) interns in Atlantic Canada. While some interns prepare for a new semester in university, others use their experience from this past summer to begin new careers in their field.
This year, New Brunswick welcomed three new team members: Michael Sinclaire and Leona Power joined as conservation interns, and Dani Lipka as an engagement intern helping with events.
For Dani, some days were spent at volunteer events in the field, and others at the office completing administrative work. Recently, Dani and her supervisor, Jennifer White, completed a small pilot survey on Miscou Island in search of bee species-at-risk including the rusty-patched bumble bee (bombus affinis), Ashton's cuckoo bumble bee (bombus ashtoni) and the Suckley’s cuckoo bumble bee (bombus suckleyi). Dani is appreciative of the supportive and positive culture at NCC. “I saw so much support and empathy around the wildfires this summer as well as support for the LGBTQA+ community, to which I identify as,” says Dani. “As a second-generation Métis I witnessed much effort to be inclusive and learn from indigenous perspectives.
For Michael and Leona, most days were spent in the field. “The best thing I learned this summer is that conservation is difficult and sometimes back-breaking work. Hauling garbage, dealing with mosquitos, ticks, thorns, alders and glossy buckthorn takes a toll on the body. I sometimes found the work to be mentally taxing, but always and exceptionally rewarding,” says Michael.
While working on ATV trails on Grand Mannan Island, the team had the opportunity to collaborate and network with other organizations, such as Nature Trust NB, ACFOR, The Quebec-Labrador Foundation and volunteers from around the province. For Leona, learning about different species was an eye-opening experience. “Getting to contribute and assist with the Musquash bioblitz was my favourite part of this summer internship. We spent three days helping experts gather, process and label specimens,” says Leona.
NCC Shorebird Reserve and Interpretive Centre
It was another lively summer at NCC’s Shorebird Reserve and Interpretive Centre in Johnson’s Mills. Five interns (shorebird interpreters) joined the team to help educate and inform the public about NCC’s work with the shorebirds. The migratory birds were able to successfully roost and feed on the shores of the Bay of Fundy, and visitors had a great experience learning about NCC’s work.
New Brunswick shorebird interpreters Lea Roy Bernatchez, Chloe Lundrigan, Aaron Litvak and Keeghan Stephens. (Photo by Jordan Myles/NCC staff)
In addition to monitoring the shorebirds and site for disturbances, the interns were occupied on individual projects over the summer. Léa Roy-Bernatchez collected feedback from visitor surveys with the end goal of improving engagement and interaction with future visits to the centre. Chloe Lundrigan’s creative skills inspired the team to design stickers and buttons of the shorebirds, which they sold by donation. Additionally, Chloe worked on a contemporary art installation using the sounds of shorebirds. “I've totally caught the birding bug! It's also been great seeing the connections between the local naturalist communities and the Bay of Fundy's cultural history,” says Chloe.
The shorebirds are not the only ones needing to be looked after. The centre itself also requires maintenance and care to welcome visitors every year. Thanks to Aaron Litvak’s skills, the centre received much-needed improvements, like a fresh coat of paint. Keeghan Stephens helped complete an unofficial biodiversity survey of the natural plant life at Johnson’s Mills. His survey resulted in logging nearly 50 species of plants over the course of the summer, including several rare and invasive species. Jordan Myles, the returning manager of the shorebird centre, is proud of her team and their accomplishments over the summer. “The team gathered data on visitor use of the site to help improve the visitor experience, catalogued a comprehensive database of plants found around the reserve, created exceptional stickers and pins to sell at the centre, and began establishing a peregrine falcon monitoring protocol. I’m very proud of everyone’s summer projects,” says Jordan.
Internship season looked somewhat different in Nova Scotia. As the interns were preparing to dive into field work or complete their training, the wildfires in the province disrupted some of their plans. Nevertheless, the rest of the season gave everyone plenty of time to explore nature reserves and work on their projects.
Nova Scotia conservation interns Matt Nettle, Jill Ramsay and Erin Cooper. (Photo by Samantha Ceci/NCC staff)
Jill Ramsay, Matt Nettle and Erin Cooper, three Nova Scotia conservation interns, all used their academic knowledge and experience and contributed to a great deal of work in the field. “The project I am most proud of is our Boar’s Head Marine Debris Clean Up event,” says Jill. “It was so inspiring to work with young students to help clean and protect their home shoreline and see how passionate they are about protecting their home.” The team also worked on conducting baseline inventories on NCC properties. A baseline inventory is the process of visiting a new property to identify the habitat types and species in the area. “By determining the forest type, we can start to understand the land’s story,” says Jill.
As for Matt, spending time outdoors and having the opportunity to work with Mi’kmaq partners was the highlight of his summer. Erin says her favourite part of the summer with NCC was “growing my professional skills, such as tree coring, species identification and navigation. As well as being outside as much as we were while also experiencing so much more of Nova Scotia than I ever have in the past.”
Internship opportunities extend beyond work in the field. In the world of communications, Saba Mozaffari and Alexa Wilcox worked through collaborative and independent projects to create digital content for NCC’s website and social media channels over the summer. Their art of storytelling helped in highlighting the efforts in the field as well as showcasing the support of NCC donors and volunteers. Additionally, Saba and Alexa both spent time in the field helping with volunteer events, such as the Gaff Point Trailblazer and the Open House at NCC’s Shorebird Centre.
Prince Edward Island
The island welcomed another intern for a second consecutive year. Hannah MacLean joined the PEI team to assist with conservation work in the field as well as data gathering and event planning over the summer.
Prince Edward Island conservation intern Hannah MacLean. (Photo by Hannah Kienzle/NCC staff)
The team on the island may be small, but their efforts in caring for nature and bringing awareness about environmental issues never go unnoticed. Hannah is proud of her team for successfully hosting two beach walks on St. Peters Harbour and Lake Run Nature Reserve to educate the public about coastal environments and how nature can heal itself after a hurricane.
“Working in a small team created an environment where I was truly able to learn and develop new skills. It allowed me to grow significantly while creating lifelong relationships,” says Hannah.
Newfoundland and Labrador
Interns Olivia Lymburner, Kayla Fisher and Julia Ball in Newfoundland and Labrador got to experience an expedition in one of the most beautiful parts of the province: Lloyd’s River Nature Reserve. This memorable summer adventure was filled with lots of laughs, cooking and camping in nature, exploring by foot, canoe and hiking, all while being surrounded by beautiful scenery and wildlife.
“Over the course of the summer, I had the opportunity to get out and improve my species identification skills,” says Olivia. “I enjoyed working closely with species at risk in Newfoundland, such as black ash and contributing efforts to protect them. Additionally, birding is a skill I have grown to enjoy and will continue to do in my personal time. I love black-capped chickadees!”
Newfoundland and Labrador conservation interns Kayla Fisher, Olivia Lymburner and Julia Ball. (Photo by NCC)
Kayla appreciates the inviting environment at NCC. “I felt like the whole environment was very welcoming and made to foster connections with like-minded people. Julia and Olivia, my two co-interns, have become some of my closest friends in just four short months, and I know I will treasure those friendships and the memories for the rest of my life,” says Kayla.
Julia joined the organization this summer as the first intern in the region to work directly with the Qalipu First Nation Environment & Natural Resources department, an opportunity created by the generous support of funder Cenovus. Julia’s role was to help with field work, such as monitoring invasive and at-risk species, like European green crab, American eel, violet and golden star tunicate, banded killifish and piping plover. “My favourite part of interning at NCC was making connections, whether with NCC staff and volunteers, QFN staff and band members, or getting to know the other NCC interns,” says Julia.
Thanks to your support, more opportunities are made available for NCC interns each summer. Today’s interns are conservation leaders for the future, and these summer programs are the beginning of a more meaningful journey of protecting species and nature.