Maryland Chapter's Internship Program Takes Off
By Laurel Imlay, Chapter Coordinator, Sierra Club Maryland
The Maryland Chapter and its groups have used outings within conservation campaigns over the years to advocate forest preservation and anti-sprawl development, bring people out to rally and hike, find endangered native species, monitor water quality, and remove invasive species.
Demonstration of the value of campaign based conservation outings originally arose through the Mattawoman Campaign several years ago. The Mattawoman campaign initially aimed to preserve the then relatively pristine Mattawoman Creek Watershed and focus on the wider issue of sprawl and the need to save the bay.
Last summer we recruited our first and very successful general Conservation Outings intern, Michael Hennessey, who was capable and motivated and able to take input and direction without a lot of handholding. His charge was to set up and host an outing for each conservation campaign and in the process to build the outings committee and the groups training and assisting leaders. (Learn more about the Maryland Chapter's internships here.)
He met with our conservation staffers, developed and carried out a Beyond Coal walk along the C&O canal to illustrate a coal plant we wanted retired, led a bike trip in Western Maryland in a proposed fracking area, and went on a Mattawoman trip with local leaders.
The conservation outings internship has support resources with clubhouse based outings leader training, OARS & LEADERS tools -- and that helps make this internship successful. This summer my goal was to have several conservation outings interns working together to outreach to groups, build up outings kits for campaigns, and set up trainings.
We have had seven interns (now five), including interns for Beyond Coal, water, political, admin, and stewardship outings. They have been collaborating with our Conservation Outings Intern to set up and carry out Mattawoman, Beyond Coal, and invasive removal trips. We encouraged all our interns to do the initial OLT online. I plan to have another Conservation Outings intern to continue the program with her. I am also talking with the new Mission Outdoors intern to explore setting up a collaborative project that would focus on recruiting more leaders, establishing a media campaign toward getting more kids outdoors, and reaching out to military families in the area.
Pictures from the Mattawoman Creek are courtesy the Sierra Club's Maryland Chapter.