I spent quite a bit of my free time last winter applying for internships.
I thought I had my summer planned in Minnesota — until I found the posting for a GIS intern with the Northern Forest Canoe Trail. It seemed too good to be true: paddle all summer, live in the great outdoors, AND make maps? I couldn’t believe that the future I had been unknowingly outlining in application essays all semester had presented itself.
The only catch was that the application was due in exactly three hours.
I quickly poured my hopes and dreams into the questions, tailored my resume, added a couple professors as references — and made a mental note to ask them about it in the morning — and sent off the email, figuring it wouldn’t hurt to have yet another application floating around in the intern-sphere.
Flash forward three months, and the constant question I was hearing was, “Wow, Minnesota is pretty far … what the heck are ya’ doin’ out here?” which turned into “Wow, Maine is pretty far … how did that happen?” once I returned back home to the Midwest.
While I’m glad to recount the long version of the search and application process and the dream summer that I had, I think the more important answer has to do with the work that I and the other GIS interns — Emma and Ben — were doing with the NFCT.
I’ve had the privilege in my life of experiencing wild places, and I know these encounters have shaped me into the person I am today. Working for the NFCT was certainly beneficial to me and my personal development. I’m more independent and confident, and I have some great new paddling skills and a whole new vocabulary. More importantly, I was able to contribute to a project that will make it easier for more people to get out and experience natural and wild places for themselves. We paddled reaches of rivers on and around the NFCT to assess access points and rapids and compiled that information into updated reach maps and trip descriptions.
The information we collected during our 10-week term will be available to the public as a resource, and I hope that it is taken advantage of. There is something sacred about paddling across a silent pond in the early morning, watching the fog rise off the water or canoeing rapids for the first time and truly appreciating the incredible power of water. I wanted to help remove barriers to accessing these experiences, and I hope that the work we completed this summer will do that. I am immensely grateful for the summer that the NFCT provided to me and for the extraordinary people that I met along the way!