Thankful for Our Summer Interns

Roving stewardship crew interns Megan Connelly, Matt Gerjol and Evan Tirey.

Interns are ubiquitous in the non-profit realm. Northern Forest Canoe Trail interns tend to be college-aged, excited to spend a summer outside, and are impressively willing to work hard for the experience and a small weekly stipend. This Thanksgiving we give thanks to the energy and enthusiasm seven interns gave to the organization last summer.

Founded in 2000, the Northern Forest Canoe Trail (NFCT) began its summer internship program eight years ago with two interns. “It was a fantastic summer roving across 500 miles of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail,” reflects Noah Pollock, who is now a regional field coordinator for the non-profit. “We put up trail markers, cleared carries, cleaned up campsites and got lost a bunch of times on the backroads of the northern woods.”

Today the program’s goal remains to accomplish projects that fulfill the organization’s mission with a strong focus on training tomorrow’s leaders. Interns are purposefully not allowed to re-apply the next year and instead encouraged to use their leadership skills in new pursuits.

Allagash Wilderness Waterway interns Jared Cooper-Vespa and Paul Sullivan.
Allagash Wilderness Waterway interns Jared Cooper-Vespa and Paul Sullivan.

Last summer we employed seven interns and put them through three weeks of training in preparation for trail building and volunteer management. Topics covered conflict resolution, emergency preparedness, leadership development, paddling skills, and constructing trail features with stone and lumber.

Our roving stewardship crew included Megan Connelly of Palos Park, IL, Matt Gerjol of Libertyville, IL, and Evan Tirey of Burlington, VT. On their own or with volunteers they accomplished campsite, portage and water quality projects on the Saranac, Missisquoi and Upper Ammonoosuc rivers. Funding for this crew was made possible in part by a grant from the Champlain Valley National Heritage Partnership funded by the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission and managed by the Lake Champlain Basin Program.

Our Allagash Wilderness Waterway interns were Jared Cooper-Vespa of Asheville, NC and Paul Sullivan of Brunswick, ME. They spent seven weeks in northern Maine stabilizing banks and improving campsite access on Churchill Lake and the Allagash River. Their efforts were funded by the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands.

Northern Forest Explorers interns Alex Sanguily and Elliot Diana (bottom goof balls).
Northern Forest Explorers interns Alex Sanguily and Elliot Diana (bottom).

Our Northern Forest Explorers interns, Elliot Diana of Quaker Hill, CT and Alex Sanguily of Mt. Kisco, NY helped lead eight week-long trips for kids ages 10–14, some who were canoe camping for the first time. The interns’ background in youth outdoor education helped inspire dozens of middle schoolers while teaching them paddling and camping skills and environmental awareness for our Northeastern lakes, rivers and ecosystems.

“Our intern program not only produces outdoor leaders,” said executive director Karrie Thomas, “but both improves the physical trail and strengthens our nonprofit’s impact on our trail communities.”

The Northern Forest Canoe Trail is thankful for our interns who are marvelous ambassadors for both the water trail and outdoor recreation. Find more information about the Northern Forest Canoe Trail’s intern program at