Alumni Internship: Plant Ecology, Westchester Land Trust – New York
Organization: Westchester Land Trust
Position Title: Plant Ecology Internship
Location: Bedford Hills, New York
Hours and Compensation: 30 – 35 hours per week, 8 – 10 weeks, 260 hours minimum. Stipend of $2800
Application Deadline: Not listed.
About the sponsoring organization: Founded in 1988 by dedicated residents, Westchester Land Trust (WLT) works together with public and private partners to preserve land in perpetuity, and to protect and enhance the natural resources in our communities. The Land Trust has preserved approximately 7,500 acres through accepting the donations of conservation easements, or by accepting the donation of parcels of land by the transfer of ownership. WLT’s conservation efforts impact the long-term health of the cities, towns and villages of Westchester and Eastern Putnam Counties through protection of watersheds, wildlife, air and water quality, and local food supply.
Project background: Westchester Wilderness Walk – Zofnass Family Preserve (WWW-ZFP) is Westchester Land Trust’s most frequented preserve and boasts six and a half miles of rugged woodland trails on 150 acres. Due to its popularity and public use WLT sees great potential in utilizing the Preserve to promote biodiversity-oriented land management practices which address Westchester-wide forest health challenges, specifically: intense competition from invasive plant species and pressure from deer browse. WLTs ongoing partnership with both New York-New Jersey Trails Conference as well as with the New York Botanical Gardens has informed the recent creation and approval of a Comprehensive Management Plan for WWW-ZFP which identified key areas within the Preserve as sites for an enhancement project. WLT will erect two deer exclosures within these keys sites to 1) demonstrate the effects of deer browsing on forest health and 2) protect plants struggling to survive.
In addition to the WWW-ZFP the Westchester Land Trust owns and manages 23 additional preserves in Westchester and Putnam counties, which contain a variety of upland and wetland ecological communities. During the summer of 2014, WLT will execute a series of targeted plant on select preserves. These surveys will support WLT’s land management decisions by producing information on the presence/absence of species/communities of conservation concern and identify specific threats to these species, their habitats and/or ecological communities.
Intern responsibilities: Under the direction of WLT’s Land Steward the Plant Ecology Intern will inventory woody and herbaceous plants found within two newly erected deer exclosures and other areas of importance on WLT’s preserves. Effective approaches and processes of plant identification will be demonstrated by the Land Steward and senior expertise in difficult-to-identify plant groups will be available through Scott Mori, Nathaniel Lord Britton Curator of Botany with the New York Botanical Garden. Intern will use small hand tools to remove woody and herbaceous invasive plants (burning bush, Japanese barberry, stilt grass, etc.) from key management areas on WLT preserves. Through WLT’s partners, the intern will take part in regional efforts to use local plant genotypes in land management (i.e., seed collection and storage, germination, plant care and planting). The intern will be responsible for photo-documenting key management areas on WLT preserves. Intern will be expected to read roughly 5 articles and book excerpts on relevant ecological issues/concepts provided by Land Steward. Finally, intern will produce a set of deliverables to be presented at a public presentation in late August (date TBD) and to be used by WLT’s stewardship department.
Internship deliverables (to be completed by late August, 2014):
1) Up to five (and no less than two) botanical surveys of specifically targeted geographic areas.
2) An easily repeatable photographic record of two deer exclosures at the WWW-ZFP.
3) An ecological community map of at least one WLT preserve.
4) Short report identifying management considerations for each ecological community (see above).
5) A 1-page synthesis of intern’s professional experience with WLT.
Dates: June – August (start & end dates are flexible). Ideal applicants will be available for a public presentation in mid-late August, 2014 (date TBD).
Time commitment: 30 – 35 hours per week, 8 – 10 weeks, 260 hours minimum.
Education: Undergraduate/graduate students with a Major or concentration in Natural Resources Management, Environmental Science, Forestry, Biology or a related field
Pertinent experience/skills: Required – experience identifying plants, animals or fungi with a field guide, dichotomous key, etc., willingness to work independently and in adverse weather conditions, experience in the outdoors, industry-specific computer skills (Microsoft Office, internet, databases). Preferred – experience with ArcGIS (or similar) software, experience in a leadership role, and experience in a professional office environment.
Lodging: Intern must secure own housing for the duration of the internship.
Primary office location: Sugar Hill Farm, Bedford Hills, NY
Primary field location: Westchester Wilderness Walk – Zofnass Family Preserve, Pound Ridge, NY and additional WLT preserve around Bedford, NY (TBD).
Transportation and equipment: Must have personal vehicle to use for WLT business, a valid driver’s license and personal auto insurance. Travel expenses/mileage are not reimbursed. The use of personal laptop is strongly encouraged.
For application forms and complete submission details visit: westchesterlandtrust.org/internships.
Please direct any questions you might have regarding this internship to:
Tate Bushell, Land Steward: firstname.lastname@example.org