The Impact of Graduate Student Leadership on Land Management Work at Blandford Nature Center in the Summer of 2016

Emily Dunnigan
Grand Valley State University
Emily Dunnigan is a second-year graduate student and teaching assistant at Grand Valley State University. She is majoring in Biology with an emphasis in Natural Resource Management with an expected graduation date of 2017. She previously graduated from the University of Tampa in 2014 with a B.A. in Biology with an Organismal and Evolutionary concentration.
Other presenters/researchers: 
Jessica Schulte, Kent Conservation District

Interns provide many benefits to natural resources managers, but they also require a lot of the land manager’s time and attention. As part of my Master’s program in Biology (Natural Resources emphasis) at Grand Valley State University, I supervised three undergraduate land stewardship students for my graduate internship at Blandford Nature Center, a non-profit organization located on 143 acres in West Michigan. Prior to the internship, I completed training in herbicide application, butterfly monitoring, and chainsaw use. During the internship, I was able to focus on working with and supervising the undergraduate students, allowing the land manager to target other stewardship and land management activities. This tiered model of supervision resulted in a three-fold increase in productivity of tasks. Activities by the undergraduate interns included completing a natural areas quality index, invasive species treatments, and GIS mapping. Supervising others taught me effective communication, problem solving, and organization skills.

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