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Interning at the Marshlands Conservancy. by Sean Sandell

December 16, 2018
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    Sign at front entrance of the Marshlands where Sean interned

During the summer of 2018 most of my time was spent at the Marshlands Conservancy in Rye, NY. I was assistant to the curator of the conservancy, most of my duties dealt with the daily maintenance of the 147-acres of the wildlife sanctuary. The Marshlands Conservancy is composed of many diverse habitats, it is composed of forest, meadow, and salt marsh shore. There is half a mile long of shoreline along the Long Island Sound. Since the Marshlands is located along Atlantic migratory flyway it is also a great place to go for birdwatching, there have been more than 230 bird species sighted at the Marshlands. The Marshlands Conservancy is a great place for recreational purposes or to do some research and study its diverse habitat.

I was already familiar with the Marshlands Conservancy before interning there, I have been visiting for the past few years (before I started my time at SUNY Purchase) where I would walk the trails and enjoy the scenery it had to offer. I became such a “regular­” at the Marshlands that I asked if I could help and work there. During my first week I had to remove an old culvert pipe that was lying next to part of the trail, luckily, I didn’t have to remove the six feet of pipe by myself, there were kids from Rye High School at the Marshlands who were volunteering for school. About five of us picked up the pipe and started carrying it back to the building (while carrying the pipe it tore a whole in the bottom of my shirt) which is located at the front of the trail. After we got back to the building and put the culvert pipe down my shirt was covered in rust and dirt, but it felt invigorating to do manual labor. 90% of my job consisted of some sort of manual labor. Every day I walked the three miles of trails that ran through the Marshlands to see if there was any debris blocking the trails, or if the trails needed to be realigned. I would also, pick up trash and debris that wash ashore from the Long Island Sound, cutting back overgrown plants that are over the trail borders, removing invasive plant species, putting up caution tape around wasps’ nests, and occasionally giving directions to newcomers to the Marshlands. Most of my time was spent working alone at the Marshlands, it was peaceful, a few times I would work with the curator and volunteers who came to the Marshlands.

By the end of my internship at the Marshlands Conservancy I knew the Marshlands like the back of my hand. I learned so much about removing invasive plants and how proper trail maintenance is conducted. I still go to the Marshlands and work there and I always see something new or different every time I walk those trails. This experience has made me realize why I went into the field of Environmental Studies, I love being out in the field and being an ecologist.