College Internship in Suburban Ecology 2024

Landon Highbloom and Emily Valenti, students engaged in MRG’s College Internship in Suburban Ecology, are getting hands-on experience in trail stewardship and riparian corridor restoration at the same time. They are planting over 100 wetland plants along stream edges. The white turtlehead, cardinal flower, and blue lobelia were all grown in MRG’s restoration garden.

MRG’s restoration garden was a success right from the start. Beginning in 2016, Executive Director Rod Christie spent many hours collecting seeds from local wildflower stock and planting them in raised beds with covers to protect plants from chipmunks and other predators. Now mature, these plants are being used as seed and plant sources for a wide array of native herbaceous plant restoration activities, including the riparian project these interns are helping with.

This portion of the stream edge is adjacent to MRG’s new trail-building project as well. Thanks to a grant from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation / Land Trust Alliance and several generous donors, MRG has begun its “Gateway to the Gorge” initiative that aims to restore the health of a woodland habitat, re-introduce native species that were historically present, and convert an unused loop trail into a self-guided interpretive trail.

This .4-mile loop is an attractive option for those individuals who may be less mobile or wish to experience the beauty of the Preserve without hiking 4.2 miles to the reservoir and back (or any of the loop combinations described on the Trail Map). This trail will include two river-overlook benches for those desiring a place to rest.

Landon and Emily, as well as Mia Barrow, Byron Wilson, and Francesco Miniello, will gain experience in a variety of conservation and research activities, and interact with staff, MRG-supported Ph.D. and M.S. students, as well as help supervise and assist high school researchers in the long-running Wildlife Technician Program (WTP). The overall objective of the CISE program is to provide students interested in ecology, environmental science, and conservation biology a variety of career-relevant experiences in both applied research and on-the-ground conservation.

Posted in Announcements, CISE Interns, Research News, Stewardship & Land Management.