The Perks of Working for a Land Trust

By Lily McVetty, Summer Intern

Before my internship with BTLT, I could count the number of times I had been paddling on my fingers. Last week, I was invit ed to accompany my colleagues on not only one, but two work-related paddling trips. I was pleased to be presented with the opportunity to get on the water and to familiarize myself with two more properties within the area.

The first property we paddled to was Cow Island, a property located on the Androscoggin River. I had been aware of this island for a while, having passed it many times on Route 1 and on the Androscoggin River Bicycle Path. I was excited to explore this property up close. On Monday, we hopped into a canoe at the Town of Brunswick’s Water Street Boat Landing. We paddled to Cow Island and around its perimeter to locate a section that BTLT monitors for an invasive plant called yellow Iris. We hauled two large, contractor bags of yellow iris (if left behind, it will spread to other parts of the island) and trash, which had washed up onto its shores.

The next day, we geared up with a canoe and two kayaks and headed to a property in Topsham, which runs parallel to another section of the Androscoggin River. The objective of the trip was to prospect the property from a water-level vantage point for future projects. It felt good to collectively get out of the office and onto the water. We were fortunate enough to encounter a Bald Eagle resting on a branch in the river, a few patches of native blue iris happily blowing with the breeze, and a significant scattering of mussels growing along the banks.

Although paddling twice within one week is a benefit of working for a land trust, I’d argue the real perk is learning about the various roles, responsibilities, procedures, and logistics that can be easily deemed cumbersome. Nonetheless, they are critical to achieving the land trust’s goals. One of the major reasons why I wanted to be an intern at BTLT was to learn what exactly a land trust does and HOW. Within just five weeks, I have done a significant amount of learning by doing. Now, I have more gratitude towards land stewards and their labor intensive dedication, towards farmers’ market vendors and managers – especially their passion for localization and attention to detail – , towards development associates and their ability to effectively convey the land trust’s mission (which enables BTLT to continue protecting the area’s natural resources and serving its peoples), and towards volunteers who take time out of their busy schedules and donate their personal materials to further projects. Being exposed to the not-so-glamourous, day-to-day work and connecting with people from all walks of life are the real perks to working for a land trust.