Kennebec Land Trust
Summer Interns and research
Working at KLT this summer has positively changed my life in a number of ways, but I think what will have the most lasting impact on me is the experience of working with people who truly love what they do. From KLT’s trio of almost superhuman employees to every land steward, volunteer, and partner I met during the summer, I felt united with them as part of a team because we held the same values and worked for the same cause: revitalizing humanity’s relationship to the land. Despite the heat, the bugs, and the exhaustion, being a part of this community kept me focused on the bigger picture of giving the land back to the people. I found that nature is the gift that keeps on giving - as long as the trade is equal. I also learned a lot about equality. Living with the Spaldings allowed me to feel like a part of the tight-knit community of Wayne, where I realized that people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. My life at college now is changed because of this experience. Working with KLT taught me that having values doesn’t mean much until you live by those values in every aspect of your life. So now I’ve changed my major and started to volunteer in local communities. And when I get bogged down by the world of academia and its detachment from “real life,” I think of the completed third trail at Mt. Pisgah, the future of Local Wood WORKS, even pulling those ornery invasives, and I smile. Thanks to Theresa, Jean-Luc, Kirsten, and all of KLT’s supporters, especially Ken and Sue Spalding - people who live by their values every day - I am able to live by mine, and am overwhelmed with gratitude.
-Jane Tekin,Williams College, Summer 2017
My summer at KLT was the most gratifying experience I have had. It is easy to assume that working in conservation means long days in the field, building trails and monitoring for invasive species; however, this summer demonstrated that working in land conservation is above all multidisciplinary. I felt incredibly lucky to be able to call hiking and canoeing my “work” for the day. In addition to having a chance to explore the beautiful state of Maine in the summer, I now have a greater understanding of the work required to sustain a small non-profit, including knowledge of how to apply for grants (a skill that will be immensely valuable as I pursue a career in conservation). The opportunity to do my own research on effective removal of the invasive Japanese knotweed gave me a greater understanding of the work required to maintain the health of the land. I am so grateful for my time with KLT. I’m inspired by Theresa, Jean-Luc, and Kirsten, who are the hardest working and yet equally kind and patient people I have met. Their unwavering love for conservation has truly moved me, and I look forward to seeing all of the amazing things KLT does in the future. Thank you to all who made this summer possible.
-Drew Perlmutter, Bates College, Summer 2017
I had an amazing summer working for KLT. Getting to be outside most days and being able to witness the actual, physical transformations that occurred due to our work was very rewarding. Our biggest task of the summer was creating the new trail on Mt. Pisgah, and it was extremely satisfying to return every week, put in the work, and watch the trail grow, knowing that we were making available a new stretch of beautiful woodlands for visitors to enjoy. In addition to trail work, while in the office we performed many tasks that helped us learn about what it takes to run a small non-profit. From basic office skills, to spreadsheets, to writing brochures, to grant proposals, we learned so much, and Theresa, Jean-Luc, and Kirsten were always there and willing to help. Our individual research projects also provided us with the opportunity to delve into a subject of interest, mine being on the family and agricultural history of a pending KLT property. Overall, working for KLT was a great experience; this internship is an amazing opportunity to gain hands-on experience and to learn about sustainable forestry, conservation, wildlife, Maine's agricultural history, and much more.
-Anna Hodgkins, University of Maine, Summer 2017
My summer internship at KLT was extremely rewarding. Employees of my age are generally made to do the grunt work at any given occupation, performing tasks they’re told to do by their superiors with limited opportunity for creative work. Fortunately, this was not the case for me at KLT. Our responsibilities included drafting and sending out membership mailings, creating web pages for the KLT website, providing trail summaries for the Maine Trail Finder, maintaining trails and property boundaries, creating brochures for KLT properties, performing outreach tasks in the local community, and preparing for the annual meeting and tri-sport event hosted by KLT in August. Toby and I were also able to complete independent research projects. I chose to conduct my research on the practice of green burial and the feasibility of siting a green cemetery on a future KLT property. I truly feel that my work on this project will inspire a green cemetery initiative, and I am honored that I had the opportunity to work on such an important topic for the land trust.
-Josh Caldwell, Bates College, Summer 2016
This past summer with KLT was an awesome experience. It was a gift to be able to spend the summer working in the Maine woods, learning how to bog-bridge properly and how to outline and create new trails, as well as the basics of preserve management. In the office I had the opportunity to write my first grant and to conduct a fascinating research project on Mt. Pisgah and its precious history of blueberry picking. Being in the office also gave me a great perspective on how a small land conservation organization works. Theresa, Jean-Luc, and Gina are some of the most tireless workers I’ve met, and I’m in awe of what the three of them accomplish. I’m extremely grateful to have been given the opportunity to work with and get to know the people in the organization. I look forward to seeing what else they have in mind for the wild lands of Maine.
Toby Smith, University of Vermont, Summer 2016
My summer at KLT was simply amazing. I got the chance to live in the cabin at the Peter Miller Woodland and loved getting to know the property at close range. It was a beautiful place to live in and explore, and a way of life that I greatly enjoyed. The staff at KLT were great to work with—always happy to answer questions or explain how to do something, and just lovely people. The internship was a thorough introduction to how small nonprofits function, with both a diversity of projects and a combination of short-term and long-term projects. Jean-Luc, Theresa, and Gina generously provided me with experiences that allowed me to network and learn good skills for future jobs. More than anything, I loved exploring the landscape and helping to conserve the properties that I grew to love so dearly.
-Avery Siler, College of William and Mary, Summer 2015
My summer at KLT was filled with adventures. From bush-whacking on the slopes of Mt. Pisgah looking for old-growth stands, to blazing trails on Hodgdon Island, to planning the Tri-Sport Challenge, I always felt in on the action. Looking back, I am amazed by the great variety of interesting things that Avery and I experienced and were able to accomplish. One minute we were working on our grant proposals, the next we were writing fundraising letters for Howard Hill. Some of KLT’s properties will hold special places in my heart for many years to come. Running up the Tower Trail at Pisgah after work always gave me the reward of an amazing view from the top of the fire tower (I haven’t been to see the new kiosk yet, but the pictures look great!). I will fondly recall building a bridge with Camp Vega staffers in Macdonald Woods. I will especially remember the home of Ken and Sue Spalding, where I stayed for the duration of my time at KLT and felt welcomed as a member of their family from the start. The wealth of experiences and friendships I made at KLT will stay with me as I finish my college career and commence applying my skills to the world of adulthood. Thank you Theresa, Jean-Luc, Gina, Ken, Sue, and the rest of the KLT family for offering me mentorship, knowledge, and a great experience. Congratulations on Howard Hill!
-Simon Pritchard, Bowdoin College, Summer 2015
My summer interning at KLT was incredible! I immediately felt welcomed by everyone I met, so the twelve weeks soared by. From trail maintenance and community outreach to fundraising and easement monitoring, I was able to experience all the different pieces that go into running a successful non-profit organization. This internship gave me not only professional experiences, but also the personal rewards of hiking through parts of my home county that I had not previously visited. In addition to the places I saw this summer, I will vividly remember the people I encountered and worked with along the way. I was amazed by how KLT is so connected to the community, seeing neighbors, old teachers, and a friend’s parents who are involved with various parts of the organization. After a summer at KLT, I feel that I already have my foot in the door to a career in land conservation, and I know I will look back on these experiences for years to come.
-Selena Bachelder, Eckerd College, Summer 2014
My time with KLT was a great experience. It was a summer filled with trail maintenance, public relations, a bit of office work, and most importantly, learning about KLT’s properties. The folks at KLT went out of their way to communicate their philosophy of conservation and to introduce us to some wonderful natural areas. After all, the more we knew about the properties, the better we could talk to the public about them. This experience changed the way I think about land conservation.
-Rich Nagle, Antioch University New England, Summer 2013
My summer spent as an intern with KLT was a wonderful experience. I had the opportunity to learn from and work with a group of knowledgeable, talented, and passionate staff, stewards, and Board members. In addition, I learned new skills like trail maintenance and grant writing, and I have extremely fond memories of blueberry picking at the Davidson Preserve and swimming at Hodgdon Island on Cobbossee Lake. Still, as I reflect on my experience, what has really stuck with me is the deep understanding I gained of the changing field of conservation and the land use challenges that we continue to face in Maine and worldwide. My research project on Maine’s local food movement gave me some insight into the unique cultural and historical factors that keep Maine beautiful and its local markets successful, and made me appreciate the finiteness of the land that we all must share. Everyone at KLT taught me what it takes to share this land.
-Lauren Dryburgh, American University, Summer 2013
My summer with KLT was an amazing learning experience. I gained both professional skills and a greater understanding of the nonprofit world. The internship taught me things that I am sure will be beneficial in any future career, such as grant and publication writing, communication skills, and an insight into the importance of partnerships and networking. But the best part of the internship was exploring the beautiful land that’s been preserved in my own backyard, and seeing the work that people are doing to make sure that central Maine retains its character. It was great to work for such a progressive organization with an extremely passionate and knowledgeable membership base. To everyone I worked with, thank you for playing an integral role in my internship. It was a pleasure to work with you.
-Hannah Caswell, Villanova University, Summer 2013
My summer working alongside KLT staff and volunteers as an intern was a truly educational and motivating experience. Each person I met possessed a love for the environment and a desire to protect it for our use and the natural world’s use, making each of those people an inspiration to me. From this experience I gained skills that I feel will be helpful in whatever career I eventually choose: skills like grant and press release writing, engaging with the public for educational purposes, and doing effective research. The very fact that my summer research project was on a topic I had absolutely no previous knowledge of (timber harvesting) had an unexpected bonus in that it allowed me to learn about an environmental issue that I hadn’t considered before. I hope to bring what I learned from this experience to a state or national environmental organization next summer.
- Teresa Withee, Bowdoin College, Summer 2012
My summer as an intern with KLT was the most important academic and professional experience I've had to date. It may not have been life-changing, but it was path-affirming. I acquired a variety of skills, including plant and bird identification, grant-writing, and even phone skills. I also had the opportunity to start a research project from scratch, which was both challenging and rewarding. The aspect of the internship I enjoyed most was having the opportunity to work with a variety of people. Everyone I worked with was knowledgeable and helpful, and Theresa went out of her way to allow us to participate in a variety of unique experiences. I found that when you work for a small non-profit, everyone is a valuable member of the team because there is always a task that needs doing. I hope to continue exploring work opportunities in the environmental sector and potentially working for a non-profit.
- Amanda Lavigueur, Colby College, Summer 2011
I could not have asked for a better summer than this past one, which I spent as an intern with KLT. I had a wonderful time delving into the history of KLT’s Gott Pasture Preserve and researching the family that originally settled there. Through this research, not only did I learn about the history of a unique property, but I also came to realize how much I enjoy the process of investigating the past. It was also great to get outside and explore many of KLT’s properties while working on the trails and on invasive plant control (although I have developed an intense loathing for non-native honeysuckle). Furthermore, I am forever grateful to Theresa, Nathalie, and Gina for helping me develop my grant-writing skills and for acquainting me with all the other tasks that are part of working for a small non-profit.
- Connie Kent, University of Vermont, Graduate School, Summer 2011
Working for KLT was an amazing experience and a privilege. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work for such an impressive organization and such amazing people. I would like to thank all the KLT staff members, stewards, and volunteers for making my time with KLT a wonderful learning experience. Getting a firsthand look at how non-profit organizations work, learning to write grants, and being able to conduct stewardship work in the field will be invaluable skills for me in my post-college journey. It was great to be able to come to work and spend time in the beautiful Maine outdoors, and to have a hand in protecting this wonderful landscape. The work was challenging but rewarding and I couldn't have wished for a better internship.
- Aaron Kaplan, Bates College, Summer 2011
With just three weeks at KLT under my belt, I have had the good fortune to walk three new KLT trails – a loop on Lake Cobbossee’s Horseshoe Island, and extensions of the Gott Pasture trail in Wayne and the Parker Pond Preserve trail in Fayette. The three September days I chose for exploring these properties were crisp and beautiful. Bright skies brought to life the luster of New England fall in the shifting waters of Lake Cobbossee, Wilson Pond, and Parker Pond.
My first venture, a short boat ride across Lake Cobbossee, brought me to Horseshoe Island. Here I noted the quiet of the island and surrounding waters. Well removed from the sounds of cars and people, Horseshoe Island immediately suggests itself as a spot for quiet reflection – an ideal place to picnic or bring a favorite book.
The Gott Pasture and Parker Pond trails provide access to similarly removed lakefront areas. En route to Wilson Pond, a new Gott Pasture trail (not officially open until Spring 2011) winds through an especially beautiful section of boulders, placed haphazardly by retreating glaciers 10,000 years ago. The Parker Pond trail bends away from the lakeside view atop rocky ledges, towards airy groves of birch and denser sections of hemlock forest.
These new trails, in the bright light of fall, caught my imagination as only quiet places on a beautiful day can. Before the season changes, I encourage you to visit. And then to return as winter, spring, and summer refashion the paths and views in new, equally beautiful ways.
- Nathalie Woolworth, Bates College, Fall 2010
My days as a Summer 2010 Kennebec Land Trust intern consisted of a dynamic mix of activities. I spent an equal amount of time in the field and in the office. It was a perfect balance! When it became too buggy at Gannett, I would retreat to the office to work on advertisements for upcoming KLT events. And when my eyes were fuzzy from staring at the computer too long, I escaped to do trail work at Parker Pond. I initially joined Kennebec Land Trust hoping to learn more about land conservation. I was interested in the values, philosophies, and ideals, but also in the day to day activities required to keep a small non-profit afloat. Through the summer, I was fortunate to be exposed to all these features through KLT.
Land conservation, I learned, was about more than saving trees or a specific endangered frog species. Land conservation is also enormously social, with a focus on saving land for future generations to enjoy. From concept to action, most activities -- from initially setting land aside through long-term property maintenance -- involve a large and active group of volunteers and land stewards. I was surprised by the variety and number of people who participate in land conservation, all with their own reasons for contributing. Land conservation, I realized, is a community activity, conducted by a community for a community.
– Katie Jennings, University of New Hampshire, Summer 2010
One morning I found myself tearing up invasive honeysuckle in a mosquito-infested forest in central Maine. That afternoon I was in the office typing a press release to announce the Kennebec Land Trust’s new book. The next morning I was leading thirty first-graders on a nature walk. My time at KLT was filled with a well-balanced variety of field and office work. I blazed trails, attended a forestry conference, created a property brochure, researched a grant, wrote press releases, managed invasive plants, and much more. My experience at KLT has taught me that effective land conservation occurs on the very localized level. I learned that a successful land conservation movement requires a community-wide effort with strong partnerships and committed individuals drawn from the full spectrum of land users and landowners. The KLT internship provided me with the opportunity to meaningfully experience the many layers of land conservation.
– Wade Davis, Williams College, Summer 2010
I can’t imagine a better summer than this past one working with the KLT. I was able not only to practice and hone some valuable interview and writing skills, but to spend time exploring beautiful trails. It is now clear to me that community and conservation are inextricably intertwined. Knowing that small spaces and places make a big difference, I hope to continue working with grassroots level conservation in the future.
- Katie Epstein, Davidson College, Summer 2009
It is hard to accurately depict the way I felt while working for KLT. I can describe the company: the board members were amiable and engaged in the work we were doing, the land owners were passionate about conserving their properties for future generations, and our boss, Theresa, truly cared for her interns, made sure we enjoyed and were comfortable with our work, and kept us focused so that we could accomplish as much as possible. In fewer words, working with the KLT was awesome.
- Bryan Prelgovisk, Colby College, Summer 2009
I worked this summer to address erosion issues from foot traffic and motorized vehicles, then progressed toward controlling invasive plant species. What I enjoyed most was the opportunity to learn and work with my community, while doing hands-on work that produced immediate, visible results.
- Colin Jones, Brevard College, Summer 2009
I enjoy being in the middle of the woods while observing the topography, vegetation, and animal life. I feel in touch with the past when I use stone walls and old woods roads as landmarks during my pursuit of barberry eradication at the Curtis property.
- Josh Lake, Bates College, Summer and Fall 2009
Working at the KLT this summer was an interesting and exciting way to get involved in environmental work in an area near my home. I especially enjoyed the process of getting to know the various local properties. The past summer made me realize there are a lot more easily accessible scenic areas than I'd known before.
- Sam Whittemore, MIT, Summer 2009