10 Things Every Future Conservation Intern Should Know

Kelby tabling

By Kelby Johnson

Wow, this summer has flown by and, sadly, my time with Oregon Wild is coming to a close. This internship has been an amazing opportunity that has taught me a ton, been an awesome way to connect with the Bend community, and was, overall, a really fun experience! Through many different events, I became connected with Central Oregonians and came away feeling like I made an impact. 

I highly recommend this internship and felt like I got so much from it. My amazing supervisor, Jamie, taught me so much during my time and was so supportive for my learning and growth. I know the next person who will be the Ochoco Outreach and Stewardship Intern will have an amazing experience. To help these future conservation interns, here are the 10 things I believe every intern should know:

         Looking for invasive weeds in the Ochocos

1. You are going to be learning A TON. 

It is amazing how many things Oregon Wild is working on protecting and conserving. Getting up to speed on all the different issues and getting a solid base for everything takes some reading, discussing, and researching, but is all very interesting and so worth it. And as you go forward, there is always something new to learn and explore!

2. Use all the people you work with and the people you   meet as a learning resource. 
Every person I spoke to this summer was a wealth of knowledge and a lot of times, an expert on a specific issue/area. Having thoughtful conversations helped me learn, while also giving me a new perspective on different issues than I got from articles and books. 

3. In the same sense, don’t be afraid to ask for help.
There is so much to learn as a conservation intern that you can’t do it all alone! Asking for clarification on a topic, reaching out for more resources, and asking questions are all apart of the learning process.

4. There will be a lot of acronym use, but you’ll start to catch on after a while!
I think I’ve heard about a thousand acronyms this summer that baffled me when I first heard them! But just asking for clarification and doing a little research will help you decode conversations and avoid the confusion.

5. Outreach events are a great way to connect with the community.
Through tabling and hikes, I was able to have meaningful conversations with locals about the issues Oregon Wild is working on. Being able to have those talks and inform the community on issues that the local area is facing was an impactful way to get people involved with Oregon Wild and try to encourage community action.

6. The most impactful way to connect with people is to find the personal relation to an issue.
Through my time tabling at events, I found that people felt the most connected to issues when they could personally relate to an issue. Finding that common ground really goes a long way and empowers people to take a stand! Be it an avid fly fisherman who loves Wild & Scenic rivers or an animal lover connecting with our wolf campaign, that correlation makes a huge difference.

A Sagebrush Mariposa lily in the Ochocos

7. Trail cams are really cool and helpful. 

This summer, I helped set up a trail camera to document the use of a trail closed for elk calving season. Through this, we were able to keep track of illegal trail use by mountain bikers and hikers, as well as capture some fun wildlife footage.

8. People are going to challenge your beliefs.
Not everyone has the same opinion on issues. That means that people will disagree with certain actions or beliefs of Oregon Wild. This can be hard sometimes, but also can be a unique opportunity to hear a different perspective and have a conversation about different opinions on topics.

9. The staff retreat (and beyond) is a great way to connect with the OW staff.
There are so many knowledgeable and skilled people who work at Oregon Wild. The staff retreat was not only super fun, but a great experience to connect with staff from different office locations and learn more about all the different issues everyone is working on. And outside of the retreat, staffers are also a great resource for any questions about different topics as they are truly the experts on so much!

10. The Ochocos are a truly incredible place.
Traveling to the Ochoco National Forest frequently during your internship to lead hikes, pull invasive weeds, or just explore is an amazing perk of the job. It is such a beautiful, diverse area teeming with wildflowers, amazing views, and rare solitude. To be able to share this area with others and work towards the protection of the area is truly impactful.

An Irish Setter paying me a visit at the Mutts on the Mountain event at Mt. Hood Meadows!

I’d like to give a huge thank you to Oregon Wild for giving me an opportunity to intern for such an amazing organization! I learned so much and felt like I was able to be a part of a really important team that is working hard to protect all the amazing places I love and am fortunate enough to go experience. I am grateful for this experience and all the amazing people who work at Oregon Wild and are doing such impactful work.

Photo Credits
Kelby Johnson