NYS DEC’s First Urban Forestry Program Intern: Laura Grant

Laura Grant
Laura Grant 

NYS DEC Urban Forestry Program Manager Mary Kramarchyk says, “Summer 2015 was the first time our program hosted an intern. Having several projects in mind and not having enough time to do them myself, I set our new student guest on the quest of identifying possible Tree Campus USA candidates, Tree City communities, and performance measure activities to set our goals by.”

Mary continues, “Laura Grant was a quick study and I soon realized we could expand her activities to other subjects that interested her most. Not only did Laura get a first-hand experience in learning about the urban forestry world, she left us with much needed information to help steer our program into the coming year. We are looking forward to sharing our enthusiasm with a student intern again in 2016.”

Laura is a senior at SUNY ESF, working toward her bachelor’s degree in forest health and a double minor in urban forestry and environmental writing.

Please tell us about the internship you just completed.
Laura Grant: Last summer I worked for the DEC in the urban forestry program with program manager Mary Kramarchyk and program assistants Sally Kellogg and Emilie Potter. Mary and Sally kept me busy with multiple projects, numerous ReLeaf meetings across the state, and the planning of our recent ReLeaf Conference.

A few of the projects I worked on helped Mary and Sally to expand the Tree Campus and Tree City USA programs, another program I worked on was the Forest Service CARS (Community Accomplishments Reporting System) to help Mary target certain municipalities for different programs under the UF grant and to help increase future funding for the UF program. At the conference I did a lot of background work that included driving the van, organizing continuing education credits, and assisting our members with any questions they may have had.

The most interesting part of my internship was traveling to all the ReLeaf meetings; I attended meetings in DEC regions 1 (Long Island) 2, (New York City), 3 (Lower Hudson Valley), 7 (Central New York) and 8 (Western Finger Lakes). Each region functions uniquely and has its own diverse array of issues and ideas that the regional members discuss and work on, and it was very interesting to see how each of the groups worked. I also really enjoyed the conference. In addition to the 3rd floor shenanigans in the dorm, the conference was a great place to learn about urban forestry and meet the people involved.

My favorite conference workshop was the “Tips for Pits” presentation by co-presenters James Kaechele and Chris Mercurio. They each shared their stories and challenges with turning a bland gray landscape into an interesting greenscape. Their humor and enthusiasm for the work they completed really made for a great presentation and an excellent example of what can be accomplished with a little perseverance.

Laura at the Christman Bird & Wildlife Sanctuary in Schenectady County
Laura at the Christman Bird & Wildlife Sanctuary in Schenectady County

How did the internship shape your career goals and what are they?
LG: I never realized before how many career options urban forestry had, so I still have no idea what my dream job is. My main career goal at this point is to experience and explore what this field has to offer. I hope to have jobs that allow me to experience as many facets of the field as possible, and maybe I’ll eventually settle down into a job with a more refined focus.

Anything else you want to share about yourself?
LG: I really enjoy exploring my surroundings, which pairs nicely with my love for photography. I love taking pictures of natural landscapes and graffiti. My favorite place to hike is the Adirondack Park; my best friend and I are currently in the midst of the Fire Tower Challenge (ascending at least 23 fire tower summits: 18 of 23 Adirondack Park summits and all 5 Catskill Park summits). My favorite spots for graffiti are the abandoned subway in Rochester and, prior to its demolition, 5Pointz in Queens.

I’d also really like to thank Mary and Sally for taking me everywhere and introducing me to what seemed like hundreds of people in a short three months, and for showing me all of what the field of urban forestry has to offer. I met a lot of great people this summer and I hope to see our tree-lined paths cross again.

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