💬 What Our Biodiversity & Climate Interns Say About EwA

“Earthwise Aware’s internship program is nothing like any educational experience I’ve had before. The hands-on and real-life work done in the field and outside of it is beyond anything that could ever be taught in a classroom. Being outside is always a plus, but learning and engaging with the ecosystems and natural communities around you, maybe ones you pass by on a daily basis, really takes connecting with nature to the next level. While some might think a winter/spring internship might be boring, or not have much going on, I found it to be a fascinating experience to witness everything come to life. I got to see the site at Horn Pond in full winter mode, and slowly watched everything wake up and become revitalized as spring came in. It helped me to be super familiar with the trees, plants, and ecosystem as a whole before things were fully in bloom and really enriched my learning experience. Everyone at EwA has their own swaths of knowledge and experiences that make working with them collaborative, engaging, and nurture one’s curiosity. Working with Claire, Kathleen and Mike every week helped me gain so much knowledge I never would have without these experiences and opened my eyes to different points of view all around. Overall this is an experience unlike anything you will gain in a classroom, from a book, or in a video; connecting with nature firsthand makes all the difference when nurturing a passion for the environments around you.

Kayla Padegimas (Spring Internship 2022, Lesley University)

“It was so great to be able to work with Claire, Mike, Kathy, Sara, and Yvonne during this internship. I learned from them the spirit of teamwork. They were always willing to learn from each other and to help each other out. Moreover, people at EwA also cared about me as a person. I felt comfortable opening myself to them when I encountered any problem because I knew they were always there to listen to me and try to help me out.

I’ve gained ecological knowledge and fieldwork experience during this internship, but that wasn’t all. With the performance appraisals, I was able to reflect on my weaknesses, strengths, and improvements. This process helped me to see myself more clearly and set directions for future improvements. By taking minutes for EwA’s monthly livestream and reviewing the work done by other community members, I understood how a non-profit organization like EwA actually functions to achieve its mission. It was also encouraging to see that my work was actually meaningful to the community. Besides, I was inspired by Claire’s determination in getting things done. She devoted endless energy every day to make her goals come true.”

Xiaochen Yan (Fall Internship 2021, Tufts University)

“My internship at EwA was an amazing and extremely special experience for me and words cannot express how grateful I am to have had this opportunity. It was truly my “dream” internship.

I have learned and accomplished so much while having tons of fun spending time with an incredible community that shares a strong passion for conservation. I appreciate being able to spend time in the field with so many passionate, knowledgeable, and inspiring people and I am grateful for the amount of time they invested in me. Through spending time with Claire, Kathy, Yvonne, Jennifer, Sara, and everyone else whose paths I crossed, I learned more than I could have ever imagined I would in just one summer. They constantly inspired me with their curiosity and the amount that they know about the world around us. Because of them, I fell in love with fieldwork and spent more time outdoors just looking at what’s around me (and with iNaturalist!). They consistently pushed me to learn more and to always ask questions. Even though I am of a different generation than many of them, I never felt the age gap in the field and I felt that I was respected and valued in the same way that I respected them. There were no “bad” questions and everyone shows up every day wanting to learn more. In other words, we are all humble, something that unites us as a team as we try to answer as many questions as we can about the planet we live on.

Before coming to EwA, I always considered myself an observant person, but through being out in the field and surrounded by nature-loving people, I can now truly see the world. Not just the charismatic species like monarchs and blue jays, but looking at all of the bugs, birds, fungi, galls, trees, and everything else in the beautiful world we live in. Through EwA, I have learned more about the importance of systems and the interdependence of different species, as well as how important it is to study, maintain, restore, and connect ecosystems. I was able to learn these things through citizen science, a practice that engages anyone who wants to learn more about the world around them. Citizen science gives individuals a sense of empowerment, which naturally leads to wanting to take action to conserve the world around them. The increased awareness of and this stronger connection to the world around me became very important to me and are something that I will carry with me throughout the rest of my life.

I am sad that my internship is coming to a close, but as Claire and other members of the community remind me, I know I am always welcomed and valued at EwA. As I think about going back to school for the Fall semester, one of my top priorities is making sure I have time to continue volunteering with EwA and stay involved as much as possible! ”

Kate Danziger (Summer Internship 2021, Brandeis University)

“Before this internship, I enjoyed being outside but I didn’t quite understand it on a deeper level. A level at which fleabanes and red-spotted leafhoppers catch my eye and I analyze river birch fruit, whether I am supposed to be doing fieldwork or not.

Interning at EwA has given me an incredible appreciation for nature, environmental ethics, citizen science, and more. I had the chance to perform several types of fieldwork, including surveying arthropods on local trees, taking biodiversity records, recording how the phenology of local flora changed over the summer, and assisting with vernal pool documentation at Middlesex Fells, and more. After these experiences, I feel much more equipped to identify species in the field and how they develop over time, which will serve me well in my future career. I also was able to do a lot of scientific writing, whether I was writing phenology guides to help citizen scientists identify the fruits and flowers of local plants, sharing recent environmental news to the EwA community, or posting on EwA’s social media about current marine biology news. I learned how to better edit others’ work and be more detail-oriented to ensure that the content was the best it could be. Additionally, I had the opportunity to work directly with phenological data while making phenology calendars, searching through iNaturalist observations for the best quality photo of ripe fruits, and more.

It was such a joy to be part of the EwA community this summer. Claire’s commitment to her work and true passion for citizen science and environmental ethics is admirable. Everyone brought their own experience and knowledge to the table, was incredibly supportive during my internship, and was always ready to answer questions whenever they came up. Earthwise Aware truly is an amazing community of citizen scientists trying to make scientific research more accessible for all. I look forward to continuing to volunteer for EwA in the future.”

Olivia Bible (Summer Internship 2021, Boston University)

“I have always had a love for the outdoors, but my internship with EwA has strengthened my relationship with nature exponentially. Claire and the EwA community have taught me that there is always something extraordinary to observe and learn about if you look closely. Everyone at EwA has different backgrounds but are rooted together with this playful curiosity, which is super special. The EwA community is so welcoming and eager to work with you. They take your opinions and input seriously, and the work you are doing is truly valuable- which is sometimes hard to find in an internship! Claire and the team also really took the time to mentor me and give feedback to teach tangible skills that I will take to jobs moving forward. I am very thankful for the opportunity to work with EwA this spring!

Mike is everything that you could ask for in a supervisor! He is extremely articulate, good humored, and he has a way about him that makes everyone feel at ease. He always had helpful suggestions for my projects and writing, and was super good at framing this feedback in a clear, productive way. Mike is curious and passionate about the outdoors, and has an infectious way of sharing his knowledge and enthusiasm with others. It was a pleasure to work with Mike during my internship this spring. ”

Caitlin Ball (Spring Internship 2021, Tufts University)

“It has been an incredible experience and absolute joy interning with Earthwise Aware this summer. Amongst many other things, I was able to expand my ecological knowledge. I also gained the hands-on experience of working in the field, in several different locations, and on a weekly basis. With the help of the supportive and talented EwA team, I also was able to create a site-specific ecological almanac documenting the relationships between plants and insects at Fresh Pond (one of our study sites). I always felt like a valuable member of the organization –my input and work were always appreciated, and I was able to accomplish so much with the support of the team. Thanks for a wonderful summer internship experience, EwA!

It has been a pleasure to work with Mike this summer. He has been an excellent project manager for my summer internship work. He is well-spoken and articulate, both in his writing and in person. He is also very knowledgeable–both in the field of ecology and otherwise–and always has something insightful to add to the conversation. Whenever I needed it, he was always available to provide guidance, particularly in my research and writing for the ecological almanac project. Thank you for an excellent summer, Mike!

Lucy Janovitz (Summer Internship 2020, Skidmore College)

Interning with Claire at EwA has been a transformative experience for me. Prior to my internship, I considered myself someone who appreciated nature but I had not spent an extended period of time building an ecological understanding of the places near to me. Through regular fieldwork and community events at the Middlesex Fells Reservation, Claire encouraged me to connect with places in a way I had never done before. Her enthusiasm and unwavering curiosity about the natural world is infectious and her depth of knowledge of local ecology is truly inspiring. As a result of my internship with EwA, my sense of duty to pursue a career around environmental issues no longer just exists in a rational, moral space – it has taken on an emotional quality as well.

One of the qualities I most appreciate about Claire is her dedication to improvement. Whether it be finding ways to strengthen EwA’s data collection protocols, asking for feedback on her own work, or providing constructive feedback to others, Claire always sees room to grow and improve. Claire approaches feedback in a highly refreshing manner; she is adamant that everyone – including herself – can improve. During my performance appraisals, Claire pointed out both my strongest attributes and areas for improvement using specific examples. Claire not only taught me what I have to offer and where I can improve but also the value of specific feedback and how to take critique with humility and gratitude. I feel lucky to have had the opportunity to intern with EwA and am thrilled to continue working with Claire moving forward!

Mina Burton (Senior Capstone Project & Summer Internship 2020, Lesley University)

“Working at Earthwise Aware has brought me so much more than just the technical skills that I learn after many hours in the field with the team. It brought me a feel for a job in the “real world” while still being able to have one of my first experiences and not being harshly punished for taking risks and making mistakes. Instead, I was pushed to take those risks and push myself to a point beyond my comfort zone, so I can learn about my strengths and weaknesses. This is beneficial for future internships and jobs so I can know what I can capitalize on and where to ask for more help.

This is a great opportunity for anyone with a genuine curiosity and passion for conservation and getting to spend time outside and learn. I would say more than half of this internship was spent doing fieldwork which is not like most other internships, even environmental-based work you oftentimes find yourself in an office.

The community of citizen scientists is great and the team at EwA, I knew whenever I was not feeling confident about a project I had multiple other peers who would love to help me out without demeaning me. This is a very welcoming community where the focus is always on how to help each other improve and make the best product possible. It always felt like a learning group where every experience there was something we could take away from the experience.”

Sarah Haugney (Capstone Project & Summer Internship 2019, University of Washington)

“Interning with Earthwise Aware (EwA) has been one of the highlights of my undergraduate career. EwA currently focuses on a wide range of platforms surrounding environmental conservation and ecological literacy. EwAs mission is geared towards making informed, ethical, and compassionate decisions and attitudes with respect towards nature.

Through my time with EwA, I have worked with Claire creating and developing a new etiquette/protocol surrounding the dos and don’ts when it comes to bat-watching, an awareness tip about what to do when a bat enters your house, an awareness article highlighting the importance of urban farming in today’s world, and many other various tasks and research assistance. EwA has further developed my research skills and allowed me to explore different frameworks of writing throughout the process. Perhaps my favorite part about my internship involved all of the informative talks and fieldwork for EwA’s Citizen Science programs that we accomplished. These events built bridges between different communities of folks who wanted to learn and get more involved. Each audience or group brought new and interesting ideas and it was wonderful learning from and meeting other like-minded individuals. Moreover, EwA furthered my interpersonal skills through the events, networking opportunities, and our weekly one-on-one meetings.

I am beyond grateful to Claire and EwA for giving me a chance and welcoming me into their family. EwA is made up of such compassionate and wonderful human beings who truly want to make a positive change for our planet. I am very sad to be leaving, but as Claire always says, once you’re a part of EwA, you’re a part forever! I look forward to working with them in the future and applying all of the teachings and tools I gained in my future endeavors.”

Xaelel Allen-Caballero (Spring Internship 2019, Lesley University)

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