AMY STAFFEN

Prairie Partner Intern ‘98

Ecologist, Natural Heritage Conservation Program

I was hired as a Goose Pond Intern -- my first real job in my newly chosen profession of restoration ecology.  This complemented my pursuit of a master’s degree in Landscape Architecture at UW-Madison, which I completed in 2000.  During my internship, I gained a broad range of practical knowledge relating to prairie planting, identification and life history of native species, and control of invasive species, all of which proved invaluable during my jobs with the DNR SNA crew, The Nature Conservancy, and The Prairie Enthusiasts, where I used the exact same skills.  As interns, we worked with a variety of conservation non-profit partners, helping me understand the vital role that these groups play in Wisconsin’s conservation community, and allowing me to make the first of many professional connections that I continue to tap to this day.  Today, as an ecologist with the Natural Heritage Conservation Program, I know that the knowledge and relationships that I gained during my Goose Pond Internship provided a springboard for my career.  On a personal level, the internship helped me appreciate the value of physical labor in a beautiful natural setting.  I never slept better and food and beer never tasted better than after a hard-day’s work in the field.  Most importantly, I cannot overstate the inspiration and peace that one finds when working with nature and sharing that experience with the wonderful people that are drawn to that type of work!