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College intern candidates sought by Kent Land Trust

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KENT – A dedicated environmentalist’s desire to encourage education has resulted in many college students gaining experience and hands-on education through the Kent Land Trust’s Kelly Alisha Tobin Internship. Applicants for 2024 are currently being sought.

The internship came about when Bob Tobin, who is on the Board of Directors for the land trust, decided he wanted to honor his daughter, Alisha, who died at a young age.  He also donated the land in 2012 for the Audrey and Robert Tobin Preserve, which is a 241-acre property in North Kent off Dugan Road.

Whitney Troy, left, with Justin Potter discussing native plants and seed collection. Troy was the 2021 Kelly Alisha Tobin intern with the Kent Land Trust and her project was to develop the pollinator pathway in Kent.

“He wanted to create an opportunity for youth in our area and within the environmental field to have an opportunity that translated to a significant accomplishment on their resume,” explained Melissa Cherniske, who is the programs manager for the land trust.

The internship is organized around a specific project that is proposed by the year’s intern. Cherniske said they brainstorm together with staff whether it is a single project or a long-term project.

A suggested project is expanding the town’s pollinator pathways, which might encompass habitat restoration, community outreach and educational programming. Another idea is blending land conservation with affordable housing, which is a new initiative that KLT and Kent Affordable House are partnering to develop. Equity in public access is another possibility because KLT is in the process of installing an all-access trail on one of its preserves, the Claire Murphy Riverwalk.

Gabriella Amato, the 2023 Kelly Alisha Tobin intern, with Melissa Cherniske with the signs for her project at Tobin preserve during the installation work day last year. Contributed photo

The exact number of interns who’ve worked for KLT is not clear because some have returned for multiple summers and there was a pause during the Covid years.

One of the former interns is Alison Robey, who completed her internship in summer 2017. She helped design and build trails on two KLT preserves, banded purple martins with KLT’s ongoing participation in the PUMA program, and upgraded kiosks by adding QR code-activated links. Robey also partnered with AmeriCorps volunteers on local conservation projects.

Robey has maintained her connection with KLT and has become a correspondent, writing regular articles that are shared in the land trust’s newsletter and online. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the Yale School of the Environment, where she researches using ecological theory to better predict the risk that climate change poses to different communities.

“Working with KLT was a formative experience for me. I already knew I was interested in environmental work when I started, but the internship provided my first formal training in what conservation really looks like, both in the field and on the management side,” Robey said Sunday. “That experience was a big factor in deciding to pursue ecology in college and grad school, and provided some wonderful introductory experience in conservation, outreach and fieldwork.”

This year’s intern will have the opportunity to shadow various people in the Kent community to do things that are important for the environment.

Cherniske said, “One of the goals for me is to connect the interns we hire with various key people in our community that are doing environmental jobs that you might not typically consider an environmental job but can then direct their future interests into a career,” such as the environmental attorney, the Park and Recreation director, or community members with special skills such as foraging. She noted that past interns have told staff that meeting these type of people was very helpful.

Cherniske said the land trust is proud that the internship has fulfilled one portion of its goal to assist interns in their future careers.

“All of our past interns have found success in the environmental field. Every one of them is still working in the environmental field,” Cherniske said.

For more information and to apply for the internship, click here.

Lynn Worthington
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1 Comment

  1. Avatar

    Mark McWhinney

    March 28, 2024 at 1:17 pm

    Alison Robey was also Co-Captain of the MEN’S crew at Williams college as a coxswain, after having coxed the boys’ crew at Kent School. Her boat won the New England Championship twice!

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