Two Internship Experiences: Land Stewardship and Habitat Design


                  By Eliana Bono



 Each summer, Westervelt Ecological Services (WES) provides internship opportunities for current students throughout the different regions and departments of WES. As paid employees, interns are immersed in their positions at WES and get to experience the responsibility of working alongside their supervisors and seeing their impact in the work they do. Take a look at two internship experiences this summer. 

Graham Edwards: Land Stewardship 

Summer Intern Graham Edwards

Graham Edwards

A Bachelor of Science student from Sewanee: The University of the South, Graham Edwards is studying Forestry. His summer internship with the Land Stewardship team in the Southeastern Region has allowed him to gain hands-on experience in the field and explore his passions for forest ecology and fish. 

“My internship at WES helped me to get experience in a field I could potentially see myself working in one day.” 

Completing various tasks, Graham’s internship exposed him to the multiple duties of a land steward and seeing the process from start to finish. From data entering, fleet vehicle maintenance and field preparation, to species reporting and tree measuring on WES’ banks, Graham was able to experience the full range of steps in stewardship- even multiple overnight stays. He was able to learn what sectors of forestry and ecology he found the most enjoyment in, while also enhancing his professional network by meeting “a variety of individuals, each with a unique background and story.” The conversations he had opened his eyes to “potential career paths or job opportunities that [he] would have never thought of on [his] own.  

Zach Skalak: Habitat Design 

Zach Skalak is pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in Sustainable Environmental Design from the University of California, Davis. As a summer intern, he monitored groundwater and tide levels of WES sites, gathered Global Positioning System (GPS) data points, utilized computer modeling of site topography, and created concept designs.  

Zach Skalak working on scaled maps

Zach Skalak works on a scaled design map as part of his internship.


“Through this internship, I’ve started to understand how to translate ecological principles into large scale restoration projects with distinct design goals [such as] flood mitigation and habitat creation for listed species.” 

Working closely with Greg Webber, Restoration Designer, and Allegra Bukojemsky, Senior Conservation Planner, Zach gained experience from having supervisors of different skillsets. Zach’s internship allowed him to collaborate with a variety of WES staff members, including those in habitat design, land stewardship, and Geographical Information Systems (GIS) teams. He enhanced his ability to work independently on tasks through a variety of assignments and experienced being in the field and in the office. Passionate about designing ecologically functional landscapes, Zach was “able to learn a lot of restoration-specific technical skills not covered in school coursework” and enhance his confidence “to use mapping and design tools.”   




By Eliana Bono 

Eliana is a summer Marketing and Sales Intern at WES and will be continuing to work with WES in the fall. She will be graduating from University of California, Davis in December 2021 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Policy Analysis and Planning and a Communication minor.