Happenings in the Forest

Intern Exchange Builds Connections

August 24, 2021

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The Great Mountain Forest intern program has, for years, relied on the help and knowledge of outside sources to expand the understanding of the natural world around us.

This summer Great Mountain Forest teamed up with McLean Game Refuge to spend two unforgettable days on the properties. Forest Manager Jody Bronson, who has overseen the evolving GMF intern program since 1990, believes, “An internship is not only about hands-on education. Giving GMF interns the opportunity to interact with the interns at McClean Wildlife Refuge helps both the students and foresters engage in thoughtful conversations about their chosen career paths. This will equip them to make sound informed decisions about the future of the forests that we are all responsible for.”

Although McLean has visited Great Mountain Forest in previous years, this was the first time the interns at GMF visited the Refuge. It was a truly amazing experience to be able to spend the day in a totally new setting and helped educate us on the various forests around CT and how they differ.

First, McLean interns Sam, Todd, Ryan, Michael, and Shannon made their way to GMF with McLean director Connor Hogan. We spent a day sharing information about the history, wildlife, plant life, and mission of our forest. We explored the sugar house and sawmill, investigated a large American Chestnut that had succumbed to the blight, and learned about forest management techniques to keep a happy and healthy working forest. We also finished with 43 different bird species spotted.

Then GMF interns Rissa, Joe, and I ventured to Granby, CT to visit their property. Although both places are in Connecticut they feature very different topography, soil types, elevations, climates, and flora and fauna species. We examined the sand plains that are prevalent at McLean and walked among giant White Pines that towered 150 feet above us while learning about what McLean does and the different research projects the interns there are leading, such as a macroinvertebrate and flora survey.

Rissa observed, “We are spoiled at GMF to have such a unique forest. However, being able to see McLean Game Refuge was a chance to expand into some of the other unique landscapes and forest types in CT. One of the most memorable areas to me was along a small part of the river bed where we identified as many different tree species as we could. Most interestingly, this area was without American beech, which can often overwhelm the forest floor at GMF.”

Joe also expressed his thoughts on the change of locale for the interns, “I really enjoyed seeing the diversity of trees McLean had to offer, there were several different species that I have seen on occasion but not as frequently. At McLean, they seemed to be all over. It was very interesting to see trees that are more suitable for the sand plains.”

By Caleb May, GMF Intern