Intern Adventures | St. Lawrence University Career Connections

Intern Adventures

Friday, August 17, 2018

July 17   I received my weekly newsletter from Nature Up North in my email inbox. I was pleasantly surprised to see my own name and the title of an article I’d written on the Emerald Ash Borer about halfway down. Two more articles on EAB with my name in the byline have been published since.


July 18   A few weeks ago my supervisor, John, had stepped into my office. He told me, “I was thinking you should be this month’s presenter for the EMC.” The Environmental Management Council, appointed by the County Board of Legislators, meets monthly just down the hall from the Planning Office. I don’t get excited about public speaking, but it was a good opportunity to share what I've been working on. I rehearsed for the office staff, answered their questions, and applied their suggestions. The EMC is an eclectic but forgiving group, and I was pleased when John told me he’d received compliments on my presentation.


July 19   The following morning I met John at 7:00 AM for a trip to the annual Adirondack Common Ground Alliance meeting. I found myself enjoying tea and a cinnamon pastry for breakfast at the Lake Placid Club, overlooking the Adirondack Mountains on a beautiful clear day. For some reason, it hadn’t occurred to me ahead of time that this would be an excellent networking opportunity, but it sure was. John introduced me to Judy Drabicki, the regional director of the DEC. When I told her I was majoring in Environmental Sociology, she didn’t give me the typical confused look; instead she exclaimed “Oh that’s fabulous!” She’d also heard about my EMC presentation and while she wasn’t able to make it, she said her husband, the former Upper St. Lawrence Riverkeeper Lee Wilbanks, had attended and enjoyed it. I also met Sherman Craig, the retiring Chair of the Adirondack Park Agency, and Zoe Smith, Landscape Coordinator for the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Adirondack Program. In my workshop group, which focused on ecological changes due to climate change, I met fellow students interning with different stakeholder organizations. And the food was great.


July 20    On Friday afternoon, I spontaneously decided to tag along to a meeting a bit of a drive away at the Clifton-Fine Central School. It was a three hour meeting, led by DEC representatives from Watertown and Albany, and a representative from the EPA, on their efforts to clean up the contaminated Jones & Laughlin Steel Plant site. Audience members included a substantial number of community members and stakeholders. At its peak, the steel mine and ore processing plant combined employed 1,200 workers. Now it’s home to the second largest oil spill in New York State and some PCB contamination. It’s a big, expensive, ongoing clean-up project. The Planning Office Director, Keith, gave an enthusiastic private tour of the site after the meeting, while Heidi was grudgingly dragged along, wanting to get home to her family for the weekend (we normally leave at 4:00; that day we got back to Canton at 6:00).


July 24    I’m sitting at my desk with a fresh cup of green tea checking my email. It isn’t even 9:00 AM yet. “Allison, come here! These are important life lessons you should hear.” My colleagues have decided they must take advantage of my last few weeks to share as much wisdom as they can with me before I leave. This wisdom includes recommendations on North Country hikes to complete before I graduate, advice on how to choose your spouse, and everything in between. The latest fable includes all the misadventures associated with a short-notice trip to Boston to retrieve a truckload of furniture directly from the port. These people have taught me more than they probably realize. How to support your coworkers, have a healthy work-life balance, and decompress after a frustrating meeting. They are a group that functions well together. I learned exactly how much this is true when I discovered that the “newbie” of the group was hired 11 years ago. The last few weeks of my internship had me all over the place experiencing some pretty cool things. Even the less exciting weeks were packed full of important lessons and learning opportunities that I will carry into my senior year and beyond. I’m very grateful to have had this experience. Thank you SLCPO!