By Madison Talmage ’21
This past summer I had the amazing opportunity of interning for Little Traverse Conservancy (LTC) for eight weeks. LTC is a land trust in Northern Michigan that has been protecting land since 1972. They protect the natural diversity of Northern Michigan through nature preserves and conservation easements. I spent some of the best months of my life at this internship, and I’m so appreciative that I had the chance to go. My time there flew by because I enjoyed it so much! I was gratefully accompanied by another Environmental Studies student, Tulwen Adams.
After a long, twenty-hour road trip, I was immediately fascinated by the beauty that Michigan holds: green everywhere, bright blue waters of Lake Michigan, and chipmunks! The office of LTC is tucked up within one of their nature preserves, which made it all the more magical to work there. The LTC staff warmly welcomed us; it was incredible getting to know them. Despite being in a pandemic, they still found ways for us to connect, like having outdoor, socially distant picnics and other fun get togethers.
My work days were filled with maintaining LTC’s nature preserves, and my weekends were spent adventuring around Northern Michigan and its upper peninsula with Tulwen. A typical workday would begin with driving to LTC’s barn, picking up tools and instructions for the day, then travelling to any preserve that needed maintenance. We often would mow trails, insert logo/information signs, or remove invasive species. We would occasionally build boardwalks, go bat monitoring, or establish native plants within the preserve. One of the best parts about this internship is that we did something different every day.
My favorite experience from the entire trip was going to Beaver Island. It is the largest island in Lake Michigan, and LTC has several nature preserves there. People live on this island, so interns have to maintain the hiking trails on it every couple years. We flew over Lake Michigan in a tiny six-seater plane, which was a little scary but incredibly exciting! My coworkers and I purposely finished our preserve monitoring pretty quickly so we would have a lot of time to explore the island together afterwards. My most cherished memories from this internship consist of the adventures that we had on this island.
Interning at LTC taught me valuable lessons that I will forever carry with me. I learned how nature preserves and conservation easements operate, how to use certain tools, and how to successfully restore degraded land into a natural area. I also gained more insight on the type of career I want to have in the future. Working with such a close-knit group of colleagues made me desire a type of workplace like LTC. Lastly, and most importantly, this internship substantially increased my independence. I feel more confident in a work setting and with the idea of moving away. I sincerely miss my time in Michigan so much. I can’t wait to visit again to see the progress on the projects that Tulwen and I worked on and catch up with the LTC crew!
Photos by/courtesy of Madison Talmage