As the Stewardship Intern, I spent my summer exploring over 5,000 acres of land protected by the UP Land Conservancy. I have been so lucky to explore the different landscapes of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and often incorporate a hike, a forage, or a swim into my workdays. I have always found nature to be an excellent teacher - with this summer being no exception. I have become a better observer, and I have learned to look more critically at what is happening in front of me. I have had to think about how the conditions of various properties might have been affected by past land use, current human impacts, or adjacent land activities.
Furthermore, I’ve had to think about what kind of repercussions these factors may have on both the people and wildlife that depend on these parcels of land. I am walking away from this internship with a deeper sense of how every component of a natural system relies on one another, and the role that humans play in those systems. Just as we depend on nature for resources, solace, or recreation, nature relies on us to practice good stewardship.
By protecting contiguous corridors and pockets of land kept in their natural state, UPLC is not only providing places to hike, hunt, or birdwatch, but they are actively working toward a future in the Upper Peninsula where the air is clean, the water is pure, and the land is biodiverse. Just as it says in UPLC’s mission to “protect land today for life tomorrow”, the way we treat our land and environment today will have a lasting impact for generations to come. We can all play a part in being better stewards of our environment by working to heal our own relationship with nature and taking small actions for future betterment. So hug a tree, plant a seed, or pick up some garbage today!
With an educational background in sustainability, I have spent a lot of time pondering what role individuals play in solving global scale problems. It is hard not to feel a sense of helplessness or apathy in the face of rapid change and widespread disagreement. However, there is an inspiring difference in attitude at UPLC. In this office, there is an understanding that the work we are doing is meaningful and necessary, even at times when it seems like there are challenges and setbacks around every corner. The team of staff, board members, and volunteers at UPLC exercise great care and deliberation in their decisions related to land preservation and project selection, even when it's not a straightforward path. Each parcel of land protected is seen as a personal commitment, and every project is imbued with a clear purpose.
The care and dedication that staff at UPLC extend toward their community, their partners, and their mission have influenced the type of work I want to do, the type of people I want to surround myself with, and the type of person I want to become. I am so grateful for the time I got to spend at UPLC this summer, and I look forward to carrying my experience into future endeavors.
- Casey Stevens
Here is a peek into what the camera roll of an intern at the UP Land Conservancy looks like: