Prairie Partner Intern 2007

Graduated University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2008

Current position: Iowa Department of Natural Resources - Natural Resources Technician (Mount Ayr, Iowa)

Favorite memory of the program: The best apple cider, still, I've ever had! Our crew rotated through 5 different partners/locations each week. One of those locations was Holy Wisdom Monastery in Middleton. They had homemade apple cider from apple trees growing on the property that were next to their prairie restoration sites. They had it thawing and ready for us to drink for lunch on a humid, 90 degree day in the middle of the summer. Life saver!

Impact of the program on your academic and/or career path: It completely shaped my path in life. I feel that internships are incredibly important for anyone in college to help them decide if the degree they are pursuing is the right choice and to define their expectations for after graduation. The Madison Audubon Internship focused my college degree (from Zoology to Biological Aspects of Conservation) and inspired a passion in me for botany and habitat work. I learned a great deal about prairie and oak savanna landscapes and tried to glean as much knowledge as I could from the vast amount of experience of the site managers. By heading down the road of natural resource work, I ventured out after college taking seasonal positions in Montana, Colorado, and Iowa. I settled down in southern Iowa working for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

How you used what you learned in the internship in future employment: I still [use what I learned]! Restoration, wildlife, and natural resources work are truly my passions, and I'm not sure that I would have found that out about myself if it weren't for this internship. Some of my present job duties include a lot of habitat work: invasive species control, prescribed burning, timber stand improvements, and prairie planting. Those were all a part of the internship--except burning... The site managers all talked about prescribed fires and how great they were and made us all jealous and want to be on the fire line. Now I'm part of a crew that burns thousands of acres every year. One particular skill set that this internship gave me, fostered largely by Tom Brock the site manager at Pleasant Valley Conservancy, was plant identification. It was more of a deep appreciation for the plants themselves and everything you can learn about the entire area just by knowing the plants that are present. I credit Tom for helping me learn a large number of plants species in prairies and oak savannas. This made me fall in love all the more with those landscapes. Burr oaks will forever be my favorite tree.