By: Aidan Das
This summer I spent my time interning at Three Valley Conservation Trust here in Oxford as a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Intern. GIS uses computer programs to map and analyze data on earth’s surface. Three Valley works to conserve and protect natural areas and family farms in Southwest Ohio. The Trust does this through conservation and agricultural easements: legal agreements between an organization and the landowner which protects the land from development in order to maintain its agricultural or ecological value.
Each day at Three Valley was different. One day I would be out in the field walking through creeks and cornfields to monitor properties, and other days I was in the office updating monitoring reports and easement maps in ArcGIS. I even got to work on some of my own GIS projects. I made maps of the easement properties and the watersheds they fell within, as well as a map of the natural areas in Oxford.
Being out in the field and visiting the properties allowed me to appreciate the beauty of Southwest Ohio. For each easement we visited, we collected photo points of the property to compare to last year to see if there were any changes in the environment or new developments happening. It was interesting to hear from some of the landowners about why they chose to protect their land and the things they are doing to maintain it, such as sustainable farming practices, invasive species removal and restoration projects.
As a biology, environmental science, and GIS student at Miami, this internship allowed me to explore a variety of my interests and passions and also realize some new ones. From this internship, I’ve gained an interest in land protection and natural resource management and hope to pursue a career in the field working for an organization like Three Valley or a government agency such as the Bureau of Land Management.
I recommend that anyone use summer or winter break for an internship in a career field that interests them. This way, you can see how these interests and skills are used in the real world. You may find that that field actually isn’t for you, or the experience may reaffirm your interests. Either way you are one step closer to finding what you truly want to do.
I’m so grateful for the experience the Three Valley staff has given me this summer. I can’t wait to take the skills I’ve learned throughout my career during and after school.
All photos courtesy of Aidan Das