A Love Letter to the NFCT Crew of 2021

Hello Northern Forest Canoe Trail followers!

It has been such a pleasure to interact with the volunteers, community members and staff that make this trail system possible. The passion and commitment that engulfs this community is truly inspiring and it’s no surprise that the NFCT continues to gain momentum and attract new paddlers each season! I am one of the lucky canoe enthusiasts that got to intern as an environmental steward for the organization this past summer — and WOWEE was that a pleasure! Not only did I get to sleep in an (almost waterproof) tent all summer, soak up the sun from a canoe, and work near swimming holes all day-every day, but I learned some surprising life skills as well.

This week, roughly a month after ending my summer with the NFCT, I made lentil-coconut curry for my roommates (without a recipe!), built my parents a wooden cold frame to help extend their vegetable growing season, and hiked to see the American White Pelican migration. These tasks, that I now enjoy and complete with confidence, would have been extremely challenging for me a few months ago. Being the sous chef to Rachel allowed me to enjoy cooking and discover spices that aren’t salt and pepper! Being privy to Adam and Phin’s birding along the canoe trail allowed me to get over my fear of birds and see their ecosystem benefits — from a safe distance. And, of course, there was the actual trail work, which gave me the skills needed to build the cold frame.

In addition, Noah, the NFCT’s stewardship director, made sure to keep us motivated and engaged mentally in the issues surrounding the trail by introducing us to a myriad of people involved in the trail itself or other land management in the area. The amount of people from different states, backgrounds, and ages invested in the success of the NFCT highlights its importance and all the good it has already done. These conversations helped guide my post internship job search and reminded me why I was interested in environmental stewardship in the first place. Unfortunately, future employment with the NFCT itself is nearly impossible since it only has four employees, BUT I am so grateful that it does try to help its interns find career inspiration in related work.

I went into this summer thinking I was just lucky to spend 10 weeks camping and working outside. While those things were indeed true, I was pleasantly surprised by the incredibly well-rounded experience crafted by the stewardship team at the NFCT. The trail maintenance skills, stone work and carpentry experience were extremely enjoyable and taught me a lot about the landscape we were working in. Rachel, Adam, Phin and Noah were the heroes of my summer — and my diet — and I can’t thank them enough for the incredible experience this summer. Hope to see them, and all of you, on the water someday soon.

Your favorite mayo-loving, selfie-taking, bowman, MacKenzie