In the Field with the KSC Conservation Interns

The 2014 KSC conservation intern team (left to right: Tara Pratt, Dan Broderick, Marisa Morrison, and Matt Cecchetelli) takes a break from hand-pulling hundreds of invasive plants.

We recently wrapped up our second year of the Keene State College-Harris Center conservation internship program, an innovative seven-week summer internship experience for undergraduate students in the Environmental Studies Department at Keene State College (KSC).

Under the guidance of Harris Center staff and KSC professors, interns Dan Broderick, Matt Cecchetelli, Marisa Morrison, and Tara Pratt assisted with many facets of the Harris Center’s diverse conservation and education work. Together, the students documented 11 vernal pools, surveyed 20 forest community inventory plots, pulled hundreds of invasive plants, conducted weekly monitoring of the Harris Center’s campsites on Spoonwood Pond, assisted with educational events and easement monitoring, and collected a second year of data for a wildlife road mortality study of Route 123, which bisects Supersanctuary lands in Hancock, Antrim, Stoddard, and Nelson. For this study, the students walked five transects (totaling 4 miles) along Route 123 twice weekly from May 14 through June 26, recording 1,125 road-killed animals of 20 different species. In the coming year, we hope to install wildlife crossing signs at the road mortality hotspots identified by these surveys.

This internship program is a win-win: the Harris Center acquires scientific data that we can use to better steward the lands in our care, and the students get an unparalleled, hands-on learning experience. “Working in the field alongside conservation professionals helps the students see how their classroom education applies to the conservation challenges we face every day, and how even the things that we take for granted, like roads, can have significant environmental impacts,” reflects KSC professor Dr. William Fleeger. “It exposes them to the demands and possibilities of the profession that it is impossible to replicate in any other way.”  To see more photos of this year’s conservation interns in action, visit us on Flickr.