A summer of stomping: NCLC’S 2017 interns

June 25, 2017
2017 interns_fi

There’s only one effective way to get rid of invasive policeman’s helmet, and that’s to hand-pull it. So in collaboration with Necanicum Watershed Council and with help from Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, North Coast Land Conservancy hired four stewardship interns this summer. Their task is simple: five days a week, for two months, pull up this plant by the roots, everywhere they find it. Then pile it up. And stomp on it.

You can meet our interns July 8 at our stewardship day at Circle Creek. Meanwhile, here’s a bit of background about each of them.

Sabrina chilling atop a pile of policeman’s helmet.

Sabrina Wilk learned about this opportunity on the Pomona College website, where she is a junior planning to major in environmental analysis and biology. She had been looking for an outdoor summer job in the Pacific Northwest, she says, and “The opportunity to live between Seaside and Cannon Beach in a little bunkhouse on the edge of a Sitka spruce forest, with all kinds of cool trails, was a perk.” Sabrina grew up in the countryside north of Seattle and has volunteered for Skagitonians to Preserve Farmland and for Skagit Land Trust, with whom she once spent a memorable day in the North Cascades planting trees, in a swamp, in the pouring rain.

About the job so far: “I’ve found that weeding out a big, dense patch of policeman’s helmet can be very satisfying. Stomping on the pile afterwards is also immensely satisfying. It can be a little tedious, but we get to work in some really incredible areas. The Necanicum has amazing wildlife, and it’s a beautiful river!”

Poppy on a June visit to the proposed Rainforest Reserve.

Poppy Gorman just graduated from Cleveland High in Portland and is headed in the fall to The Evergreen State College, where she plans to focus on zoology and environmental studies. Prior to high school she lived mostly on the northern Oregon coast and spent recent summers here. The NCLC internship was exactly what she’d been looking for in a summer job: something outside, physically demanding, where she’d pick up some new skills and, at the end of the day, have a sense of accomplishment, while contributing to “a cause greater than myself.” She says she loves living on Circle Creek. “There’s tons of wilderness to explore, and I enjoy seeing the numerous bird species. I predict I’ll feel sad by the end of the internship.”

About the job so far: “We’ve made some massive piles! It’s super satisfying to pull the whole plant, especially the big ones, but frustrating when it snaps off. Policeman’s helmet is a succulent, and with certain plants you can see the water move from one end of the stem to the other if you tip the stem up and down.”


Amelia relaxing at the end of a Weed Warrior Wednesday.

Amelia Sofia Reed is re-enrolling at Mt. Hood Community College this fall after taking some time off from school. She plans to study fisheries at MHCC prior to transferring to Oregon State University to study marine biology, aiming at a career in marine conservation and biology. She was born and raised in Gresham and Portland but is a frequent visitor to the coast (where she has family). She isn’t new to this kind of work; for two years Amelia served on, and helped lead, a youth conservation crew, where she removed invasive plants, planted native shrubs and trees, built and maintained trails, and helped teach children about the life cycle of salmon. She later worked at Metro’s Native Plant Center. The coastal location is part of what drew her to the NCLC internship—that, and the opportunity to get to know various conservation organizations. “I get along great with the whole crew, I get to live in a super cute, quaint house with a ginormous backyard to explore, and I feel like doing work like this is just good for your soul,” she says of the internship. “I know it sounds kind of cheesy, but I enjoy taking care of the environment. It also gives me an excuse to not work out.”

About the job so far: “Although getting wet socks for pretty much the past two weeks hasn’t been great, the work is really satisfying. It’s instant gratification once you’ve cleared a giant patch or stomped down that giant pile.”

Emily with NCLC Land Steward Eric Owen earlier in the year. Eric supervises the stewardship interns.

Emily Guderian joined NCLC’s summer stewardship crew after spending several months as a stewardship volunteer. She has a bachelor’s degree in environmental science with a minor in soil science as well as a bachelor’s in political science with a minor in Spanish. She’s also done some graduate work in geology. She was born and educated in Oklahoma but has spent a good part of her life in Oregon—both Portland and the coast.

Her previous jobs, involving hazardous waste and environmental chemistry, kept her indoors or required her to be fully outfitted in protective clothing, including respirator. “I wanted to be able to enjoy and marvel at the world around me,” she says of her involvement with NCLC. “The internship allows me to work in some of the most beautiful and unique places I have ever seen,” she says. “Ideally, I would like to work preserving natural places”—places she can relate to firsthand, without protective gear.

About the job so far: Emily has become a close observer of her foe. “Policeman’s helmet is a plant that varies in color from yellow-green in the shade to dark green with red edges and veins in the sun.  The stem is hollow, but it will bend to grow around existing vegetation. Where the stem bends, the new joint often has a reddish color. When the top of the plant is grazed (by elk for instance), the plant will create three branches off the main stem where the last grouping of leaves are located.  It is already blooming!”




Comments are closed.