Thank you, summer 2023 interns!

Annika in prairie, Ivy working on art, Riya by flowers, Brandon ice fishing, Holly in autumn woods

Our summer interns supported FMR's conservation and education work, from bird, plant and monarch surveys to youth program facilitation.

Our internship program helps us support the next generation of environmental leaders on their career paths. This summer, we had one intern in our land conservation department and four assistants working with the Environmental Stewardship Institute's (ESI) summer program

Learn more about these leaders and the efforts they made possible.

Annika Brelsford: Summer field ecology intern

Annika Brelsford with a clipboard in the prairie

Annika brought so much joy to our team and displayed true enthusiasm for her work at FMR. Her broad interest in the field of ecology was so valuable as she assisted with many elements of our work, including bird and pollinator surveys, assessments of potential conservation lands, community volunteer events and long-term restoration monitoring.

Annika so impressed us with her ability to soak up new information and became a real asset to our team. She has a zest for learning and an incredibly positive attitude, which helped us through a couple of very hot days in the field. It was truly a joy working alongside her and seeing her grow into an ornithologist/botanist/entomologist throughout the course of the summer.

Annika's reflections

"I had the opportunity to work with everyone on the Land Conservation team in each of their unique spheres of ecology, allowing me to explore a variety of FMR responsibilities. This included helping with pollinator, bird and vegetation surveys, along with other opportunities like data entry, easement assessments, monarch plot surveys, volunteer events and attending FMR meetings.

"I learned an incredible amount this summer from bird identification to bumble bee species to all kinds of plant species to how to best support prairie health! I'm extremely grateful to have had the time and ability to meet everyone here and learn so much from each person.

"I'm currently working towards a biochemistry major at Macalester College, and this internship helped me see what it's like to explore the ecology side of biology. From this point, I'm hoping to be a part of future summer research projects and look into pre-med internships to explore some other sides of biology and chemistry. I thoroughly enjoyed how much time I was able to spend outside as a field ecologist intern, so I will be keeping that benefit in mind as I make future career choices! It has been such a joy to be able to enjoy nature and contribute to its protection with FMR."

Environmental Stewardship Institute Assistants

As part of the growth of our career pathways program, we offer paid leadership positions primarily to Environmental Stewardship Institute (ESI) graduates and prior FMR interns. These assistants help plan and facilitate the summer program and provide support for fellows.

This year, we had four assistants.

ESI assistants 2023

From left to right: Riya Stebleton, FMR Youth Program Manager Sovatha Oum, Ivy Song, Holly Swiglo, Brandon Luna Sanchez

Riya Stebleton

Riya ran ESI's Instagram, creating a theme for the page as she posted about our weekly programming and upcoming events. She also put together worksheets to guide the fellows through their summer projects and weekly discussions. (And she conducted her own project on environmental racism!)

Riya could always be relied on to volunteer to do anything and everything ESI — and to do it well. Her enthusiastic attitude made her great at connecting with the fellows and truly a joy to work with.

Riya's reflections

"I have had an incredible experience this summer as an assistant intern. We had the opportunity to create environmental curriculum related to the Mississippi, racial justice and Indigenous practices. Every day was different, whether it was foraging, visiting a lock and dam, going to the science museum or doing art at Lake Phalen.

"At the end of the program, fellows presented their self-directed projects, which gave me the opportunity to learn so much more about our local environmental issues. Working on a diverse, passionate team has shifted my visions for our future!

"I am currently going into my senior year in high school! The work we have done through ESI aligns with my interests in environmental justice as I begin to look at colleges. I hope to pursue a career in environmental and human rights."

Ivy Song

Ivy managed ESI communications, sending email and group messages and maintaining an online and printed calendar for the summer. She also led several planning meetings and program activities, which benefited from her conscientious approach.

Ivy always demonstrated consideration for a variety of perspectives and attention to detail during our planning. Her leadership and drive as we prepared for each week shone through to the program.

Ivy's reflections

"I really enjoyed working with the ESI Fellows this summer, talking to them and learning what they are passionate about, as well as helping them complete their projects. I loved watching the projects come together and be presented during the final presentation day. I learned to be flexible in the sense that weather/air quality can throw a wrench into the plans for the day, but it isn't the end of the world and we can always find a way around it. 

"I will be attending the University of Minnesota this fall studying Sustainable Systems Management. I will also be continuing to work with FMR to lead events with the Stewardship & Education team."

Holly Swiglo

Holly coordinated our summer guest speakers, reaching out to professionals across the environmental field and creating general guidelines to focus their talks from fellow feedback. She also created a curriculum introducing environmental policy and giving fellows ideas on how they can work for the legislation they want to see.

Holly's commitment to protecting the environment through youth activism is incredibly motivating to our fellows. Her wealth of experience combined with her diligence and passion makes her invaluable to anyone lucky enough to work with her.

Holly's reflections

"I love working with youth from around the Twin Cities who are all passionate about the environment. It is so inspiring to see the ways they work together to protect our local environment through their projects! Throughout the summer, I learned how important it is to connect with people on the individual level. Every person learns differently, and taking the time to really get to know someone allows us to tailor the program to their needs so they can get as much out of it as possible. 

"I recently graduated from Roseville Area High School and will be attending Oberlin College next year. I intend on majoring in environmental studies and/or political science, with the goal of continuing to explore the ways in which I can protect the environment."

Brandon Luna Sanchez

Brandon brought a data-driven mindset to ESI, creating a survey to assess the fellows' environmental knowledge and confidence at the beginning and end of the program. He also led our resume workshop with his experience applying to jobs and internships as a high school student.

Being new to the summer program, Brandon brought a new perspective to ESI, always considering ways to make the program better for fellows. His extensive knowledge of STEM opportunities for high schoolers made him a great resource for the fellows.

Brandon's reflections

"During my time as an Assistant for the ESI Summer Program, I had the opportunity to collaborate with my fellow assistants, creating an enriching program for the summer fellows. What sets FMR apart for me is that it grants the ESI Summer Program to be led and driven by students, providing us with a platform to voice our perspectives. Through this experience, I gained insights into effective program development and learned about diverse perspectives, all of which have greatly enriched my professional growth. 

"As a rising high school senior, I'm grateful for the experience FMR has provided me. I'm excited to carry forward its values of equity, inclusivity and collaboration into my college journey and beyond."

Join our career pathways program

As part of our career pathways program, we've expanded our capacity for hosting paid opportunities for youth and young people. Learn more about internship and ESI openings.

Upcoming Events

Tuesday, June 25, 2024 - 6:00pm to 8:00pm
Nicollet Island, Minneapolis
New date: Saturday, August 10, 2024 at 5 p.m.
Hidden Falls Regional Park, St. Paul
Wednesday, August 14, 2024 - 6:00pm to 8:00pm
Pine Bend Bluffs Scientific & Natural Area, Inver Grove Heights