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The Best Classroom Out There

Schleping boards for new bridges

Stories from the Coast

The Best Classroom Out There

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

By Melody Larson, 2018 Maine Land Conservation Summer Intern

Coming into this internship, I was mostly excited to be working outside all summer. Little did I know that I would be wading through a brook, searching through the Cumberland County Registry of Deeds, and learning about marking property bounds from a volunteer steward with a background in forestry.

Each day of my internship at the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust has provided me with a new adventure and learning experience for which I am grateful. Some of my favorite adventures so far have involved the variety of people that I get to interact with through this job, specifically all the wonderful volunteers whose hard work make this land trust run.

I find satisfaction in feeling tired at the end of the day, knowing that my hard work is going to help or be enjoyed by someone down the road.

Fourth graders learning how to plant trees

A mutual understanding

The variety of people I have met thus far has helped remind me that a connection to the land can connect a diverse range of individuals.

One highlight was working with fourth graders to plant native trees and shrubs for erosion control near a newly built bridge on one of our preserves. Although I have worked with kids before, this experience taught me two things.

First, when bringing a large group of kids outside, you’ve got to be very organized and prepared. Second, it reminded me how we are all born with an understanding of the natural world, and it doesn’t take much to cultivate that.

Overcoming (literal) obstacles

Another highlight of my internship was wading down Mill Brook with a volunteer to clear up blockages. Both the volunteer and I were unsure of what we had gotten ourselves into, but we overcame the obstacles that were in our way (literally, the blockages in the brook) and ended up enjoying ourselves while doing so.

Although work days as such can be physically challenging, they always prove to be quite rewarding to me. Even if I am not able to clearly see what my hard work accomplished or if it seems smaller than what I thought I had gotten done, I find satisfaction in feeling tired at the end of the day, knowing that my hard work is going to help or be enjoyed by someone down the road.

Melody helped put the final nails and screws in this sturdy bridge.

Melody helped put the final nails and screws in this sturdy bridge.

“We are all born with an understanding of the natural world, and it doesn’t take much to cultivate that.”

A froggy friend found at Mill Brook Preserve in Westbrook

Keep the challenges coming

Through this internship, I have gained a deeper understanding of all the work behind the scenes that allows a land trust to function, from the trail cleanups to conservation planning meetings.

I welcome each new adventure I encounter, and am looking forward to my next challenge of designing a trail in the coming weeks. Furthermore, I am so thankful to have the opportunity to learn and grow through this internship that allows me to do so in the best classroom out there – the outdoors.

Melody Larson is a rising junior at Colby College studying Environmental Policy. She’s one of seven MCHT Conservation Interns. She’s working for Presumpscot Regional Land Trust.

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