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Meet the Land Steward Interns

Written by Sarina Counard-Ryals
    Monday, 17 July 2017
Meet the Land Steward Interns

Part of the Urban Ecology Center’s mission is to preserve and enhance the urban natural areas in which we operate. Our small, full-time team of professional Land Stewards do a great job engaging volunteers on restoration projects, but tending to all the work needed in the summer growing season can be a challenge. Thank goodness for our Summer Land Steward Interns!

All of Center’s summer interns participated in a week of general training before moving on to their respective departments. This is where I met two of land steward interns, Genevieve Kohn and Erik Miller.

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Land Steward Intern Genevieve Kohn.  Photo: Sarina Counard-Ryals

Genevieve and I met during one of our icebreaker games. I learned that she’s home for the summer from Drake University in Iowa, where she’s studying Environmental Sustainability and Resilience with a minor in Writing and Sociology. Genevieve grew up near Riverside Park, developing a connection to the area and the Center biking the Oak Leaf Trail and climbing our rock wall as a child.

As a camera fanatic, I immediately noticed Erik’s “camera lens” travel mug. A Wisconsin native like Genevieve, Erik graduated with a degree in Environmental Science emphasizing on Ecology, and a minor in Spanish from UW-Whitewater. While in college he toured the Center with Students Allied for a Green Earth (SAGE), and fell in love.

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Land Steward Intern Erik Miller pulling invasive species.
Photo: Sarina Counard - Ryals 

Both Erik and Genevieve’s majors have to do with saving the environment, and both want to be able to put their knowledge into tangible action. Erik expressed that, “studying environmental science can be dark and depressing; we’re always talking about what we can do, but I really wanted to be a part of the people doing something about it.” As land steward interns at our Menomonee Valley branch they’re doing just that, working with our staff and volunteers to plant native species, remove invasive ones, and help nurture and manage the continued transformation of Three Bridges Park from obsolete railyard to flourishing urban oasis.

Genevieve admits that “it’s very beneficial to be able to learn a skill and then apply that to what we’ve been learning, and it’s nice to not have to take a test!” Both agree that the hard work that they put in daily makes an impact in the community and makes their job very rewarding. Before his interview, Erik read Urban Ecology, the Center’s recent book written by our Executive Director Ken Leinbach: “I fell into the story, and living it is freaking awesome.”

Sarina Counard-Ryals

Sarina Counard-Ryals

Sarina Counard-Ryals is the Urban Ecology Center's 2017 Summer Marketing Intern. She is pursuing a degree in Nutrition Science/Dietetics with a minor in Marketing at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee.

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