This summer was a truly extraordinary, applicable, and often difficult experience. Never before had I camped out for any longer than a week at a time. Going two whole months without a bed was challenging! However, to be able to paddle multiple rivers in Maine and New Hampshire — and to make useful maps for other people — more than made up for it.
Being able to explore rivers and make our way through whitewater sections or portages provided a real sense of independence and a new appreciation for nature. Not every river we paddled was perfect, but it was great to be able to discover them for myself and to share them with other paddling enthusiasts.
One of the things I am most proud of from this internship is the new resources for paddlers we made. These took the form of maps, suggested trips on the Northern Forest Canoe Trail website, and listings on Maine Trail Finder. All of these are tangible products that can be used by other people to make it easier for them to explore these rivers and have a fun experience.
Through this internship, I also learned valuable skills that will be useful in the future. Technical skills include a better understanding of QGIS and Adobe Illustrator. I hadn’t used either program much before this summer, but was able to catch on quickly; I realized that these programs can be powerful tools. It was encouraging to see the data that we collected put into these programs and turned into maps. Spending so much time with two other interns also forced me to analyze my own personality and how I interact with others. It was a great way to improve my teamwork and leadership skills and thankfully, for the most part, we all got along well.
Throughout the summer, I gained a stronger understanding of the level of communication and effort it takes to make resources that I often take for granted, such as maps. It also made me more passionate about paddling and the environment, as well as a greater appreciation of how to work and be independent. Worthy rewards for going two months without a bed!