Katie Beeles worked as a Summer Land Steward this summer, thanks to a generous gift from Bud and Diane Ames and their family. The gift established the Ames Family Stewardship Fund to support one of our summer land steward positions annually.
Bud Ames is a former board member and past president of TILT’s Board of Trustees. He and Diane have been longtime supporters and advocates of the Land Trust. Their daughter Johanna was also a summer land steward.
Following is a letter written by Katie Beeles after her summer with TILT.
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Ames,
I would like to thank you for the wonderful opportunity you have given me to be a part of the Thousand Islands Land Trust this summer. It has been a pleasure working as both a Summer Land Steward and as an intern for Zenda Farms. I am so thankful for this opportunity, since working for TILT has been a goal of mine for a few years now. Working both in the field and in the office has helped me grow, expand my education, and work in a professional setting.
As a Summer Land Steward, I have gained experiences that are not only applicable to my education, but to my day to day life. I have learned how to operate machinery that I otherwise would not have dared to touch. I also have discovered new places to get outside and enjoy nature.
Even my first day as a Land Steward was a memorable one. It was raining while we were at the Foster-Blake Woods Preserve maintaining the trails. While we were weed-whacking, some movement caught my eye. In the tall grass, I found two baby bunnies that looked cold and were very wet. It was downpouring, so we moved them to the base of a tree where they could dry off and could stay warm. It is something that I will never forget.
Seeing people come together for TILT was another amazing experience. While preparing for and attending events such as the Zenda Picnic, Otter Creek Picnic, and the Summer Gathering, I got to meet the people who support TILT, allowing me to put a face to their name and thank them for their support. Without this experience, I would not have made connections to SUNY ESF, the college I will be attending in the fall. I met people who work in the sciences and learned about options I have after I graduate.
Kids Camp is another TILTrek that stands out. It is important to teach children to care about the Earth and it was even more special for me to see them learning and asking questions about science and the Earth firsthand. TILT is fostering a relationship between people and the land which is important especially now when modern society is so disconnected from nature.
As an intern for Zenda Farms, I have focused my time on developing a business plan for adding a “You-Pick” berry patch at the Preserve. This was a completely new experience for me. I have learned how to draft a business plan, and gained an understanding of crop rotation, soil types, organic farming, and planting strawberries.
Although this seemed like a daunting task at the beginning of summer, I have had help from all the staff at TILT who have guided me in the right direction and answered all my questions. Now that the summer is drawing to a close, I am finalizing my business plan and it is a piece of writing that I am truly proud of.
I hope that in the future you will see the work that I have contributed to TILT, whether it be on the trails with my trail maintenance or the addition of a berry patch at Zenda. All of my experiences this summer were possible thanks to your support. I cannot express my gratitude enough for the great summer at TILT that you have provided for me.
Katie L. Beeles, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Conservation Biology, 2020