💬 What Our Biodiversity & Climate Interns Say About EwA

During the three-month internship at EwA, I started paying close attention to things I used to miss, like caterpillar-preying holes, fungi on the dead woods, and quick bird calls. These small discoveries opened a new and broader world for me. I practiced writing by doing the meeting minutes and news digest. I also had a deeper view of nature ethics and how much I relied on modern technologies such as fast transportation and all kinds of industries. This internship improved my species identification skills as well as my understanding of citizen science. It is such an extraordinary experience!

I enjoy every moment at EwA. I’ve met amazing people like Claire, Kat, Mike, and Dunja. Everyone is so nice and knowledgeable. I am so grateful to work with these wonderful people, chat about our stories of nature, and learn from each other. Before coming to EwA, I always went to the field by myself simply to take a breath and escape from reality. I didn’t know anyone with similar feelings and wanted to go together. Then I met EwA, and with so many nature enthusiasts, I had a place to express my happiness in the woods. It is a place where I always feel welcomed and a sense of belonging. I will be back as a volunteer to continue participating in this wonderful community.

Jessica Yuan (Fall Internship 2023, Brandeis University)

My time as a summer intern with Earthwise Aware was one of my favorite educational experiences. Initially titled “data intern,” my role extended far beyond mere data analysis. Despite being remote and unable to join Claire, Madeline, and the rest of the team in the field, I gained a profound understanding of my local environment, a knowledge that will be valuable to me for life. Growing up in Seattle, WA, I have always been surrounded by diverse natural areas, but I lacked knowledge about the local species and biodiversity. One of my favorite tasks as an intern was doing iNaturalist observations. Every week, I explored my neighborhood park, identifying plants and bugs. This park holds so many memories from my childhood, walking through the woods and fields and playing on the beach. Now equipped with the ability to recognize numerous plant and arthropod species in this park, I perceive nature through an entirely new perspective.

My primary project for my internship involved creating visualizations for EwA Buggy. Claire’s statement, “You will never understand data unless you collect it yourself,” resonated with me deeply. Indeed, going out and collecting iNaturalist and Buggy data firsthand allowed me to comprehend the visualizations that I crafted, an experience I would never be able to have in a classroom.

I am immensely grateful for my experience as an intern with EwA and to the community that the internship connected me with.

Ava Isarankura (Summer Internship 2023, Tufts University)

“Throughout my internship with Earthwise Aware, I have strengthened my appreciation not just for the environment but for the communities built around it. The people working in the field every week, people who work from home on data, and those who helped me in editing my writing were just as important in my internship as the environment I was learning so much about. Working in the field allowed me to experience the Fells and urban environments from perspectives I had not considered before.

Working with Claire pushed me to think about ethics in a whole new way and to consider them every step of the way while I am working. I was encouraged to think about my personal ethics and how they aligned with the organization in my own projects and other’s projects I aided in. Thanks to my internship with EwA, I have gained an appreciation for the community of naturalists and science communication that I will take with me throughout my professional career.

Madeline Logan (Summer Internship 2023, Brandeis University)

My internship with Earthwise Aware was much more than anything I could have envisioned. Although I used to just go on walks without thinking about what I was seeing, now I can’t help but constantly study the environment around me. I find myself staring at mushrooms, trying to identify bird sounds, and pointing out invasive species to my friends. I almost feel like a different person coming out of this internship because I look at everything around me from such a different perspective than I did before. Being out in the field is so different from learning in a classroom, and I feel grateful I was able to have this experience with EwA to understand that. The hands-on experience has not only helped me gain so much knowledge but also has made me have a deeper connection and appreciation of nature. Throughout the semester, I have learned immensely from Claire and the fantastic team of naturalists I spent time with weekly. I was able to learn so many different topics because they all have such diverse interests, creating a community where they bounce off of each other and are constantly able to learn more from one another. 

Through the fieldwork and projects I did, I was able to gain many skills when it came to the understanding of phenology, invasive species, birds, plant identification, and so much more! Although these are all important topics, I think the most important thing I learned about was community. EwA made me understand the importance of citizen science and how it can really make a difference in scientific research, and how it brings together a community. Although my internship is over, I know I always have a community of friends to return to that understand and appreciate the importance of nature.

Meghan Cahill (Spring Internship 2023, Lesley University)

“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)

“In the short amount of time I have been with EwA, I have already come to appreciate how the organization views its members. There isn’t any distinction between professional and citizen scientist; every team member is valued for the unique blend of skills, experience, and interests. This collaboration and transparency are critical to fully understanding the ecosystems around us and are necessary to implement environmental action.” 

Jakob Drozd (2021-2022 GIS Volunteering, Clark 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 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 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 to get things done. She devoted endless energy every day to make her goals come true.”

Xiaochen Yan (Fall Internship 2021, Tufts 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)

“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)

“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 all are rooted together in 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)

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)

“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)

“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. EwA’s 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 on 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 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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