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Looking Into the Future: Our Day Spent with Young Conservationists

Looking Into the Future: Our Day Spent with Young Conservationists

© Nora Reynolds (National Park Service)
August 25, 2016

As an organization whose mission involves protecting clean water and open space, we understand how valuable the national parks have been as a way to engage both current and future generations with the glorious outdoors. From lush forests to deserts the color of a sunset, these national treasures have served as a gateway to explore the rich national heritage we all share.

Botanist Janet Ebert instructs a LEAF intern on how to collect field data. ©Anmy Nguyen (The Nature Conservancy)
Botanist Janet Ebert instructs a LEAF intern on how to collect field data. ©Anmy Nguyen (The Nature Conservancy)

At the Brandywine Conservancy some of our favorite days are spent sharing our love for the Brandywine Valley with children and young adults.

Recently, in partnership with the National Park Service, the Brandywine Conservancy hosted LEAF interns (“Leaders in Environmental Action for the Future”) from The Nature Conservancy as they explored First State National Historic Park to learn about invasive species.

©Anmy Nguyen (The Nature Conservancy)
©Anmy Nguyen (The Nature Conservancy)
The interns clear away trash and invasive species at First State. © Nora Reynolds (National Park Service)
The interns clear away trash and invasive species at First State. © Nora Reynolds (National Park Service)

The LEAF internship program targets teenagers from urban communities who are interested in pursuing environmental careers. The interns spend four weeks gaining field work experience and learning how to become stewards of natural areas.

Oriental bittersweet, a common invasive plant, was targeted by the LEAF interns.
Oriental bittersweet, a common invasive plant, was targeted by the LEAF interns.

By learning about the value of native species – which are better equipped to thrive in our environment and provide vital food and habitat for local birds and animals – the members of the LEAF program will be able to amplify that message with their family, peers, and in their future work as conservationists.

The interns enjoy the Brandywine Creek after a day of field work. © Nora Reynolds (National Park Service)
The interns enjoy the Brandywine Creek after a day of field work. © Nora Reynolds (National Park Service)

The 20 interns spent the morning at First State National Historical Park in Delaware learning from Nora Reynolds, NPS intern, and Janet Ebert, local botanist, how to identify and control invasive plants (non-native species which threaten the overall integrity of the habitat). They also used GPS units to locate patches of invasive plants.

GPS units were used to map the distribution of invasive plants at First State National Historical Park.
GPS units were used to map the distribution of invasive plants at First State National Historical Park.
Michele Gandy explains the importance of GPS and data collection in land management. ©Anmy Nguyen (The Nature Conservancy)
Michele Gandy explains the importance of GPS and data collection in land management. ©Anmy Nguyen (The Nature Conservancy)

In the afternoon, the interns visited the Brandywine Conservancy to hear from Michele Gandy, GIS Specialist, how GIS (Geographic Information Systems) can be used in invasive plant management.  Beth Burnam, Senior Planner for Natural Resources, and Edie Dondero, Associate Director for Land Stewardship, also spoke to the students about pursuing careers in land management, and Mark Gormel, Horticultural Coordinator, led them on a tour of our campus’ native plant gardens.

Mark Gormel tells the students about the benefits of using native plants in gardening. ©Anmy Nguyen (The Nature Conservancy)
Mark Gormel tells the students about the benefits of using native plants in gardening. ©Anmy Nguyen (The Nature Conservancy)

Today, as we celebrate the 100th birthday of our National Park Service, the staff of the Brandywine Conservancy hopes that by sharing our experiences and the tools we use to monitor, manage, and protect the Brandywine Valley’s natural resources, we are building a foundation for responsible stewardship that will last a lifetime for these future leaders of our community.

LEAF Interns from The Nature Conservancy
© Nora Reynolds (National Park Service)

For more information about TNC’s LEAF internship and First State National Historical Park visit:  LEAF Program or First State National Historical Park.  

For more information about the Brandywine Conservancy visit us at: http://www.brandywine.org/conservancy. You can also visit our beautiful Laurels and Waterloo Mills preserves while supporting our conservation efforts by becoming a member today!