Civitas internships: Lauren Calcagno

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Lauren Calcagno, Guest Writer

Most Civitas students spent their summer internships in front of a computer; I spent my summer amongst nature.
This summer I interned 90 hours at the American River Parkway Foundation (ARPF) this past summer. The ARPF is in charge of protecting, managing, and improving all 23 miles of the American Parkway- some of which crosses right through Rio’s backyard.
This is a big job and there are only five staff members in charge of this whole area. I was fortunate enough to work closely with one of them, Ashley, the Biologist for the Foundation.
During the course of my internship, Ashley had me working outside everyday I was there. This was definitely more entertaining and rewarding than a desk job.
Ashley taught me about the many invasive plants on the parkway, like stinkwort and red sesbania. I can fully identify these dangerous plants now, as I pulled thousands of them throughout the summer.
The best days of the internship were spent rafting down the river and pulling red sesbania. Being on the water allowed me to appreciate the parkway from a whole new angle, and learn facts about the history and importance of the American River.
Besides pulling invasive plants, I completed surveys of the different types of plants at various sites along the parkway. This is a very complex process that involved precise measuring and identifying. I can now confidently identify a majority of plants that live on the parkway thanks to this internship.
I also helped lead volunteer groups who were doing trail clean-ups and trash pick-ups. Most of the time, these groups were very energetic and excited to be out volunteering on the parkway, which made the process more fun.
The last few days of my internship were focused in the ARPF Garden, which houses many California native species. I learned important gardening skills and how to identify and take care of the vital native plants that live in our region.
I always had an interest in Biology and Environmental Science, but I wasn’t planning on majoring in one of those fields after high school. I originally interned at the ARPF because I run on the bike trail everyday, so I appreciate the beauty and peace of the parkway.
After completing this internship, I am interested in pursuing one of those majors in college. The field work I was exposed to was very engaging and purposeful, which is why it would make for a rewarding major.
Volunteering at the Parkway is an easy and enjoyable way to give back to your community. Interning at the ARPF changed my perception on plants and the parkway as a whole. It made my summer amusing and rewarding all in one.

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