a line of colorful autumn trees at Meadowbrook Nature Preserve

Student Experiences in Conservation Program

Shirley Heinze Land Trust had ten high school and college students participate this year with our Student Experiences in Conservation program. These experiences covered a wide variety of topics including water quality, wildlife monitoring, climate resiliency, interpretive programming, and environmental stewardship. A big thank you to our faculty partners from University of Notre Dame, Holy Cross College, Indiana University, Purdue University Northwest, and Chesterton High School that helped make these experiences possible.

Hear from some of these students as they reflect on their experiences:

What did you learn through this experience? How did this experience contribute to your personal growth in your intended career path?

“This experience helped me to know some of what to expect in college and in future jobs, which helps me feel more confident in my capability to be able to succeed in future situations. I also feel more well-rounded. Knowing how to work on key processes that go into what a land trust does, such as a management plan, will give me the ability to better complete and understand any other tasks I do in a future career.”

– Rina Hector, Chesterton High School


Sam Bosio preparing to record frog calls at Lydick Bog

“This experience taught me valuable lessons in the level of organization and administration required to propose and carry out a research project with a partner outside one’s own organization. It is not enough for me as a scientist to see the value in the project and understand its methods and goals. My partner, in this case SHLT, needs to know this information as well as how it will help them achieve their mission, how it will benefit the public, and that the responsibility of maintaining the project will not fall on them should I depart. Through developing the protocol and communicating with SHLT, Notre Dame, and the other students involved to establish long-term education goals, data reproducibility, and funding, I have gained a new appreciation for what makes science work.”

– Samuel Bosio, Environmental Science, University of Notre Dame


“When working with volunteers and stewardship departments, I was introduced to multiple conservation areas. This has broadened my understanding of multiple plant species and their ecosystems. In field work consisted of removing invasive species, walking preserve’s trails, and hands- on with the Grow One Keep One program.”

– Abigail Ramirez, Marketing and Environmental Science, Purdue University Northwest


interns conducting water quality monitoring in agriculture ditch
Hannah Enabnit conducting water quality research

“Working at SHLT exposed me to a new side of the environmental field that I really enjoyed. I learned about the intersection of conservation and agriculture through attending meetings held by groups such as the Soil and Water Conservation District and hearing from local farmers. I also got to see some cool behind the scenes projects, such as setting up a new standalone restroom unit that uses rainwater, among other things. These in person experiences added a level of depth to my professional formation that isn’t otherwise achieved from school alone.”

– Hannah Enabnit, Environmental Engineering, University of Notre Dame




How will your experience and the things you learned impact your future job or coursework? In what ways did this experience confirm or redirect your career objectives?

“The things I have learned during my internship with Shirley Heinze Land Trust have further defined what I could do with my future degree. Besides research, I have been exposed to multiple different career opportunities. I think this will be important as I will have a better understanding of how information I learn in classes could be applied differently in each of these different jobs. Moreover, throughout completing tasks, I was introduced to important terminology and reports that I otherwise wouldn’t have exposure to as I begin my college studies. This provides me with a strong foundation to build upon while in college.”

– Rina Hector, Chesterton High School


This experience confirmed for me that I want a job that involves both field and office work. Working on a project in the office gives you good conceptual knowledge but being able to see it in person adds a depth of understanding that can’t be reached otherwise. I really enjoyed the balance of water sampling in streams, running analyses in the lab, engaging with the other organizations and the community, and working with data and information in the office.”

– Hannah Enabnit, Environmental Engineering, University of Notre Dame


interns holding litter-filled trash bags in front of Ivanhoe South entrance
Haley Weiland and Hannah Enabnit show off their litter haul at Ivanhoe South

“I am eager to apply the things I learned this summer to the class work. I think it will help me get a leg up in the class, but also now that I am more familiar with the field I think it will be easier for me to follow and learn more things. I also believe that this experience will help me transition smoothly into any related future jobs for the same reason. Knowing that there are places to work like Shirley Heinze makes me sure that I am going in the right direction. Also, I enjoyed the work that I was doing. I helped SHLT and I know that what I did will make a difference, even if small.”

– Haley Weiland, Environmental Biology, Indiana University Northwest


“This experience has not necessarily altered my general career goals, but given me new insight into how to approach any job; how to work within the job description to reach the most people and express to them the importance of caring for our environment. It also prepared me well for managing scientific efforts in the future. I will be a crew lead on a vegetation and soil monitoring project next summer, and I feel much more confident in my ability to plan and organize our gear and schedule than I did at the beginning of last school year.”

– Samuel Bosio, Environmental Science, University of Notre Dame


What takeaways do you have from this experience that will prepare you for your next opportunity?

“I have already begun working for the Bureau of Land Management on forest and rangeland habitat surveys, and I will use the lessons I learned in my experience with SHLT and other research in my pursuit of a Master’s in Biodiversity and Conservation at Trinity College Dublin, which begins right after my job ends.”

– Samuel Bosio, Environmental Science, University of Notre Dame


“It was helpful to feel comfortable asking questions to supervisors when I needed help with my work. As this is something that I struggled with in classrooms, or my other internship opportunities, being able to do this in this situation helped me ensure that I was doing what I needed to be doing, and gain confidence in my ability to complete tasks. One of my main focuses in college will be continued interaction with professors. Not only will this help me learn more from my classes, but it will also ensure that I remain comfortable in professional environments. Continuing to develop my professional communication skills will also help me apply for future jobs in my field of interest.”

– Rina Hector, Chesterton High School


Abby tabling in Aetna for Family Day
Abigail tabling in Gary’s Aetna neighborhood during a community event

“Since working with SHLT, I have decided to make a difference within my own community. Within the two months of interning here, I have thoroughly enjoyed working with each department and plan to be a part of the multiple initiatives and programs offered moving forward.”

– Abigail Ramirez, Marketing and Environmental Science, Purdue University Northwest


Abigail Ramirez recently joined the Shirley Heinze team as the new Volunteer Coordinator – read more about Abigail here!