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ADK Internship Component Ties Students to Community


“I’ve never felt so immersed in a community so quickly,” said Chris Hart ’19, when describing his internship experiences this semester as part of the Hamilton Adirondack Program. Ten students are interning with 16 different organizations in the Adirondacks. Each contributes to, and in some cases develops, essential projects that serve the local region, which they then apply directly to their coursework, research, and community building at The Mountain House, the program’s site.

 Laura Kwasnoski ’18 is a farming intern at Craigardan and naturalist with Adirondack Mountain Club. Also at Adirondack Mountain Club, AJ Lodge ’18, Nick Pace ’19, and Mary Lundin ’19 are summit stewards and researchers. Lodge also conducts research in the Stager lab at Paul Smith’s College and Pace is a trail design intern with Barkeater Trails Alliance. Hart and Lundin carry out assessments at Adirondack Research.

Hart, Kaitlyn Thayer ’19, and Noelle Connors ’19 are farming interns at Essex Farm. Thayer also bakes for Mountain Tomboy Bakery and blogs for Adirondack Council, and Connors is a writer for Adirondack Explorer. Susanna Yee ’19 interns in with North Country SPCA and the Women’s Health Clinic and the Childbirth and Maternity Center at Adirondack Health. Christina Florakis ’19 apprentices with master woodworker Wayne Ignatuk, and interns with Point Positive and Forever Wild. Maggie Horne ’19 and Florakis student-teach at Keene Central School, and Horne is a curriculum intern with Adirondack Farm-to-School Initiative.

“I was attracted to the education-related career experience I would gain,” Horne said. “But I did not also expect to ignite my passion for the study of food systems. Without the interdisciplinary design of the Adirondack Program, I could not connect these interests so easily.”

Horne combined her food-waste knowledge from the program’s Common Experience Seminar (taught by Janelle Schwartz, director of the Adirondack Program) with her internship experiences to create a food waste curriculum for her Independent Capstone Project.

Likewise, Susanna Yee’s clinical observations at Adirondack Health combined with her direct promotion of newborn wellness through the building of Baby Boxes (to help prevent SIDS), have given her invaluable experience toward her pre-nursing goals.

Noelle Connors’ Independent Capstone Project, focused on how agricultural practices affect soil quality, grew directly out of the intersection of her work on Essex Farm and Adirondack Program’s Intensive Seminar: Ecological History of the Adirondacks, which is taught by Associate Professor of Biology Bill Pfitsch, this semester’s faculty-in-residence.

Thayer said, “Within our tight-knit Adirondack community, we each pursue a variety of interests and, subsequently, become more engaged citizens.” Lundin added, “A great benefit of the program is the freedom granted to each student to study the Adirondacks in their own way, while also participating in collective experiential learning.”

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