Honors Summer Internship Fellows: Amelia

This is the final post in a series of four posts written by the Summer 2020 Honors Internship Fellows. The students received a stipend that enabled them to work at non-profit organizations for the common good.

Author: Amelia Medved, junior

For eight weeks of this unconventional summer, I interned with the North Shore Land Alliance, a non-profit that owns and maintains nature preserves on Long Island. Many of these preserves have trail systems for hiking, which staff and volunteers maintain for public use. 

Amelia with a porcelain berry root.

An Honors Summer Internship Fellowship allowed me to work from home full-time for the Land Alliance. My primary responsibility was to design interpretive trail signs for the Cushman Woods preserve in Matinecock, NY. I painted mostly in watercolor and then used digital media to assemble the final signs. I’m majoring in Environmental Studies and plan to complete a Visual Arts minor; I gained professional experience in both design and non-profit work by collaborating with my supervisors, researching local history and ecology, and executing multiple designs for the Land Alliance.

I worked most closely with Stewardship staff, and though my work was mostly remote, I was glad to spend one day a week at Cushman Woods performing trail maintenance. Working one-on-one with my supervisor, I learned plant identification to inform my trail signs. We also picked up trash, weeded native plant gardens, and sawed fallen trees after storms.

Watercolor of a Wood Thrush.

I also did a significant amount of invasive plant removal along the trails. The international nature of the city and its surrounding region allows plant species from all over the world to find their way to New York; the plants that face no natural predators can grow out of control, decimate native biodiversity, and compromise an ecosystem’s resilience. While removing garlic mustard and mugwort originating in Europe and multiflora rose and mile-a-minute weed native to Asia, I observed some local consequences of globalization. Especially through the lens of the coronavirus pandemic, I considered how connected the world is and precarious our systems have proven to be.

I am so glad to have spent my summer as an intern at the North Shore Land Alliance. It was an environmentalist’s dream to work out in nature at a time when I really needed to get out of the house. Thank you to the Honors Program and to Dr. Keller for this opportunityーa valuable internship and time to see my local ecosystem up close and hands on.