MANITOWOC, Wis. — On a cooler day, Anna Hall of Denmark might be found inside painting purple martin houses at Woodland Dunes Nature Center and Preserve, located between Manitowoc and Two Rivers.
When the weather warms up, she heads outside to pluck invasive species — buckthorn, honeysuckle and garlic mustard — so they don’t push out native plants and wreak havoc with the habitat of the nearly 1,500-acre nature preserve made up of hardwood and conifer forests, wetlands and prairies.
Hall, a senior majoring in biology at Silver Lake College of the Holy Family, is an intern with Woodland Dunes. The internship experience is an integral part of the college’s academic program.
“It is a pleasure to work with Anna. She brings an enthusiastic attitude, a thirst for knowledge and she is full of joy, which carries into her work ethic,” said Jessica Johnsrud, assistant director and education coordinator at Woodland Dunes.
“Internships are invaluable for students because they broaden a student’s outlook on career possibilities, strengthen that student’s professional skills through work experience and help them develop a network of employer contacts,” said Jan Algozine, Director of Career Resources and Experiential Learning at Silver Lake College.
Hall was selected for an internship at Woodland Dunes last summer and was asked to return this spring.
“I said ‘of course’ because I had wonderful experience with them,” Hall said. “In our society, we’ve lost touch with nature because we spend so much more time inside with technology. I’ve gained this whole new appreciation for the outdoors ever since I’ve started working with Woodland Dunes. I see my co-workers’ passion and it just inspires me to learn more.”
Hall has taught the preserve’s maple syrup program, led nature hikes, has been working with bird data, has written an educational column for the local newspaper and is now helping prepare for summer educational programs.
“I think internships are incredibly valuable because they give you experience outside of the classroom. They measure your success with something other than a letter grade. You build skills that you can’t build in the classroom,” Hall said.
“Besides, I’ve been having so much fun in my internship. I’ve really learned to appreciate the beauty of nature up close. I’ve learned a lot about bird names and bird calls. Teaching the kids about them is fun,” she said. “I’ve learned to identify trees, which I never knew how to do before. I learned that you need 43 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup. I saw a snowy owl, the first time it was documented on Woodland Dunes property. I’ve learned to distinguish males from females by the marking on their bodies.”
And, she was surprised to learn that Lake Michigan once covered Woodland Dunes, and that the nature preserve’s ridges and swales are what is left of the lake’s sand bars, said Hall, who plans to pursue a career in higher education.
Silver Lake College of the Holy Family is seeking additional businesses or organizations interested in hosting an intern; for more information, contact Jan Algozine at firstname.lastname@example.org or 920-686-6192.