Natural Resources student interns from Central Lakes College (CLC), Brainerd, seem to be everywhere this summer. Thirty full-time interns in 2012 have logged thousands of hours working in Minnesota and Wisconsin for natural resources agencies, primarily the Department of Natural Resources. “I think it is an impressive testament for our NR program and the students,” said instructor Dr. Bill Faber, internship coordinator. He said 19 students took internships for academic credit and 11 students were non-academic interns not required by their hiring agency to register for internship credits. Those 11 earned small stipends. Rarely are room and board provided. For one academic intern, summer hasn’t ended, and the work offers more than college credits.
“I just love being outdoors, having new opportunities, learning how to do things I never thought I would do as part of natural resources education,” said Katie Geissler (shown), a 2013 Associate in Applied Science degree candidate whose sights are set on a park management career.
From May 14 to Oct. 21 the honor student from Silver Bay is working for the Minnesota DNR’s Parks and Trails Division at Tettegouche State Park, Silver Bay. She was happy to have just a five-mile drive to work.
Tettegouche has grown from 28,000 visitors in 1986 to more than 330,000 in 2011.
Due to temporary closure of the park’s 26-year-old visitor center, the summer of 2012 brought a steady schedule of construction-related duties.
The intern’s first project: Build new steps and a safer, five-foot-wide path to Shovel Point at the mouth of the Baptism River. “We rebuilt it away from the bank to eliminate the erosion factor and for safety reasons, covering up exposed tree roots and upgrading the boardwalk,” she said.
Geissler, supervised by Park Assistant Manager Jason Peterson, can add carpentry to her resume’, thanks to the park visitor center construction project. She helped a crew salvage wood at the old visitor’s center to be recycled and put to use by Habitat for Humanity.
She has helped rebuild park boardwalk ruined in the mid-June deluge that was a disaster down the road in Duluth. “We were lucky here,” she said. She was half the crew for trenching and installing a water line from the Tettegouche campground shower building so recreational vehicles could have easy access.
She enjoyed forays to other landscapes within the jurisdiction of the DNR’s Parks and Trails Division and directly supervised by Tettegouche personnel: the back-packer and hiker paradise of George H. Crosby Manitou State Park with its 23 miles of trails, 200-acre Temperance River State Park, two river-enhanced state forest primitive campgrounds at Finland, Minn., and a North Shore landmark rock formation, Palisade Head.
At Crosby Manitou she worked two long days with a colleague to build a 21-foot bridge of thick timber on a rock base.
Routine chores included pulling invasive weeds such as cow parsnips from the campground, road repairs, brush mowing and weed whipping, and serving visitors at the trailer that is a temporary site for merchandise formerly sold in the gift shop. She also sold park permits.
“I am usually quite conservative in my ratings (of interns),” said supervisor Peterson. “Katie stands out among the 25 or so I have had the pleasure to supervise. She has excellent work ethic and a clear vision of what she wants to accomplish. She worked well independently and as part of a small group.”
Geissler is considering the University of Minnesota-Crookston to pursue her bachelor’s degree. She will leave CLC with not only her AAS degree but also a wildlife tourism certificate.
At Bemidji this summer CLC honor student Luke Burlingame of Maple Grove worked with the DNR Wetland Wildlife Research Group. “I had a two-part internship,” he said, which included a nesting success study for Ring‑Necked ducks as well as banding ducks.
“I was on the nesting success study from my first day in mid‑May until the end of June,” he said. His supervisor was Dr. Charlotte Roy, DNR waterfowl researcher. “On July 1st I switched over to banding ducks with a different supervisor, Jim Berdeen, and did this until late August.”
He found himself teaming up with CLC graduate Josh Norenberg on one project.
Burlingame, 25, said it was “an especially rewarding experience. I plan to pursue a wildlife ecology degree at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. Getting real hands-on experience with wildlife has really fueled interest in a wildlife career.
“The internship allowed me to see and use the things I’ve learned at CLC outside the classroom. I wasn’t watching videos or hearing about wildlife research; I was doing it,” he said. “This was real, hands-on field work that the science and data is based on. I can look at duck number reports and know that those numbers are based partially on the work I did. It’s a great feeling.”
“Luke did a great job for me and I enjoyed having him on staff,” said Dr. Roy. “He worked hard and had a great attitude every day, and even on the occasional weekend day when I needed extra help. I would hire him again and would gladly recommend him to others.”
Other academic interns and their assignments were Christopher Broz, 21, Maple Grove – DNR Fisheries, Detroit Lakes; Ben Froelich, 19, Pierz – DNR Fisheries, Finland; Rick Guderian, 22, Elk River – DNR Fisheries, Tower; Eric Rauchman, 25, North Mankato – DNR Fisheries, Brainerd; Josh Wickstrom, 24, Harris – DNR Fisheries, Hinckley; Willy Puckett, 35, Monticello – DNR Wildlife, Shallow Lakes; Robert Babb, 28, Pequot Lakes – DNR Parks and Trails, Crow Wing State Park; Josh Putzke, 23, Sebeka – DNR Parks and Trails, Itasca State Park; Mitch Lundeen, 21, Little Falls – Crow Wing County Land Services, Forestry; Mark Schneider, 31, Little Falls – DNR Ecological and Water Resources, Aquatic Invasive Species Technician; these seven were working for DNR Ecological and Water Resources as Watercraft Inspectors: Nichole Davis, 19, Bemidji; Jodi DuBay, 21, Apple Valley; Sarah Eckberg, 32, Baxter; Andy Frank, 20, Flensburg; Chris Larson, 20, Braham; Sharia Merten, 31, Brainerd; Zach Skwira, 21, Bowlus.
Non-academic interns: Bryan Harvey, Aitkin – City of Brainerd; Nicole Baker, 23, Mankato – US Army Corps of Engineers; Paul Kedrowski, 19, Princeton – US Army Corps of Engineers; Laura May, 27, Little Falls – Camp Ripley Environmental/ Wildlife; Matt Toenies, 20, Randall – Camp Ripley Environmental/Wildlife; Ryan Handeland, 25, Cushing – Camp Ripley Waters; Jake Smude, 23, Brainerd – Camp Ripley Waters; Michelle Dickson, 31, Pine River – DNR Fisheries, Brainerd; Jenny Carlson, 22, Little Falls – MN Pollution Control Agency, Brainerd; Justin Forrest, 22, Brainerd – WIDNR Invasive Species Diver, Lake Tomahawk, Wis.; Michael Kotzenmacher, 31, Baxter – Crow Wing County Watercraft Inspector.
Instructor Faber said all interns are required to write papers of five to 10 pages in length about their internship and the agency for which they worked. Each must also 10-minute Powerpoint presentation to students or other audiences.