Expecting the Unexpected: The Large Projects that Made my Summer

Before my internship started at the Boothbay Region Land Trust, I heard from past interns, family friends in the field, and even my interviewer to ”expect the unexpected.” There truly is no typical day working at a land trust, but I hope the list below gives future interns an idea of what their summer could look like. 

I split my time this summer between stewardship and communications, working with Lands Manager Brad Weigel and Communications and Outreach Manager Christine Selman respectively.

Daily tasks with Brad can include filling out preserve assessments, trimming new growth on trails, mowing grassy areas, painting signs, or placing benches. Daily tasks with Christine may involve updating blogs on the website, taking pictures, creating Instagram posts, or updating online systems. My favorite parts of both roles were not necessarily the daily activities, but the larger projects I worked on. Here is a list of my favorite large projects I worked on this summer:    

1. Invasive plant mapping

An individual project I am currently working on is mapping the invasive plant populations at Ovens Mouth Preserve using ArcGIS Online. The hope for this project is to better understand the scope of invasive plants at the preserve in order to inform the land trust’s management plan and to mitigate their future spread. I study both invasive plants and digital mapping at college, so this project presents a great opportunity to apply these skills together in the real world.

2. Writing articles for the local paper

One of my favorite projects of the summer was writing two articles for the local paper. I was able write about any topic and Christine was a great help editing my writing. It was really neat to see my writing in print and to hear from excited community members through emails and even a letter. 

3. Trail improvements 

Trail improvements were a large part of my role on the stewardship side, but our largest project of the summer was at Ovens Mouth Preserve. A section of trail was eroding and becoming unsafe so two amazing volunteers spearheaded a project to stabilize the area. I was able to help collect logs from a massive downed red pine, move the logs into place using a system of pulleys and a power winch, and cart in gravel to level the surface. 

The various trail projects I helped with this summer were the most physically demanding aspect of my job, but the projects were also extremely gratifying. Visitors walking by would enthusiastically thank us for our work and compliment the condition of the trail. Especially in a summer when contact with the public has been limited, these small positive interactions were even more important to me. 

4. Research for Damariscove Island Museum 

One other project I worked on this summer was researching the early history of Damariscove Island for a small museum located on the island. I especially loved the challenging work of finding accurate information about the pre-European settlement.

Halfway through the summer I visited the island. After a forty-minute boat ride, I spent a day hiking the trails, cleaning up trash, looking at the museum, and eating wild raspberries with my boss and the island caretakers. That day may end up being my favorite of the summer! In the near future, the information I gather will be used to update the museum in order to add more information about the pre-colonial history of the island. 

My advice to future interns is to say yes to everything and do not be afraid to express your interests. From mowing to mapping to museums, you never know where one task or assignment will lead to next! 

I am so grateful to everyone at the BRLT for finding creative solutions this summer to give me such a varied and exceptional internship experience—even in the midst of a global pandemic. 

Claire Pellegrini was one of nine 2020 Maine Coast Heritage Trust Interns. Claire interned with Boothbay Regional Land Trust.