Each year, Downeast Lakes Land Trust has internship opportunities for local high school and college-aged students who are interested in careers in conservation, wildlife biology, public recreation, or other outdoor pursuits. We will be highlighting past DLLT interns, learning how their experiences in Grand Lake Stream shaped their career path, and where they are today.
First up in this series is Logan Johnson. A native of Calais, Logan was a DLLT summer intern in both 2016 and 2017. Read on below to hear, in his own words, how the experience gained at DLLT shaped his career in forestry and conservation….
I grew up in Washington County, but it wasn’t until my first summer as an intern at Downeast Lakes Land Trust that I truly found my appreciation for the natural resources of the Downeast Lakes region. This appreciation extends beyond the forests, lakes, and streams and to the professionals who have dedicated their lives to the stewardship and conservation of the area. My experience as an intern taught me many valuable lessons, but most importantly, it taught me the value of working forests. A forest that will forever be a forest and provides opportunities for foresters to practice their trade by prescribing harvest recommendations that improve wildlife habitat and the long-term health of the forest, which in turn allows loggers to conduct harvests and provide jobs to people in the rural communities of northern Washington County, which then create jobs turning the logs they harvest into products that humans depend on as a society. Throughout the working Downeast Lakes Community Forest, sporting camps and lodges, and Registered Maine Guides earn a living by hosting people looking for a taste of nature in one of the region’s most beautiful, tucked-away communities, an experience all people should be able to enjoy.
Over the two summers that I interned for Downeast Lakes Land Trust, I had many memorable moments that will stick with me. My favorite place in the community forest is the outlet of Fourth Machias Lake, where the DLLT maintains two remote campsites. One day, I was tasked with visiting the campsites and installing boxes that contain useful information for campsite users. On the trip out, I was amazed by a Golden Eagle soaring alongside me and the lakeshore. Once I reached the campsite, and the eagle disappeared, it all of a sudden came swooping down the lake outlet and perched itself above me in a massive white pine.
My summers at DLLT changed the trajectory of my career. When I started in the summer of 2016, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do after abandoning my plans to become a dentist. I knew I wanted to do something with plants, but I had no idea what opportunities would be out there. I did know that I wanted to learn more about how forests can help mitigate climate change by capturing carbon. Luckily, DLLT was one of the first places in the country to establish a carbon project in their forest. Because of this, I was able to spend a 12-hour day in the forest with foresters who were monitoring the Community Forest’s carbon stocks. This was the same day I first thought, maybe I want to be a forester. Following my second summer as an intern, I spent a year as an AmeriCorps (volunteer) Land Stewardship Coordinator with a regional Land Trust in Massachusetts. From there, I went to the University of Maine to complete a Masters of Forestry degree.
Today, I am a Maine intern forester and the Northeast Region Coordinator for the Forest Stewards Guild, a national nonprofit that “practices and promotes responsible forestry as a means of sustaining the integrity of forest ecosystems and the human communities dependent upon them.” In the summer of 2020, I was ecstatic to return to the Downeast Lakes Community Forest to coordinate a Forestry for Maine Birds workshop geared to educating family forest landowners about the benefits of managing forests with bird habitat in mind. I look forward to any opportunity for my work to bring me back to the Downeast Lakes Community Forest to help spread the word about the benefits of working forests.