Summer Land Stewards & Interns Speak

In 2018, TILT hired four Summer Land Stewards and one Intern to help the staff accomplish the work of the Land Trust. Below, each of them gives a brief perspective on their experiences and what working at TILT meant to them.

Nika Ficano
Working this summer for TILT has been a wonderful experience for a variety of reasons. I have been coming to the region for short vacations in the summer since childhood, but in that time I never fully explored the vast and diverse landscapes that the region has to offer. Through TILT I have learned to appreciate the familiar Thousand Islands through a new lens.

Each day asked something new of me and I used a different skill set, which kept everything interesting. From learning how to operate a chainsaw and build a foot bridge to having the opportunity to drive TILT boats on the St. Lawrence, I learned more practical skills this summer than I have at any other job. Perhaps more significant to me, each day I was sent to a different place, nearly all of which were outdoors and breathtakingly beautiful. The opportunity to work outside was invaluable to me; it affirmed my interest in pursuing a major in environmental science and a career that allows me to work outside while conserving the land around me.

I would like to thank TILT and all its staff for affording me the opportunity to work with them. I enjoyed what I did every day and appreciated that I was doing it for an organization whose mission I respect so much. That combination is difficult to find.

Sean Heagerty
Being a Land Steward this summer has been an opportunity that I am incredibly grateful for. For the past three months, I have been able to go out and do work that is crucial to the ecosystem of the Thousand Islands, which is something that I take great pride in.  Furthermore, the tasks that I was assigned were fulfilling, since they were all jobs that are done mostly by hand.

This rich environment is incredibly important to both the people who reside here year round, and also its seasonal inhabitants. Working this job, I have seen this first hand during all of our TILT events, and especially during my time working in the field. I have been personally thanked for my work by many members of the community on the trails, which really shows how much people care about the work I was doing.

Overall, there is no other way I would have liked to spend my summer. I would like to thank TILT for this great opportunity, and Stewardship Director Brandon Hollis for his leadership and guidance during this summer.

Sean Deedy
I had the great honor and privilege of becoming a Land Steward for the second year in a row. This year I got to learn more about living on the River and all the ways TILT is helping to conserve it. Throughout the summer, I got to meet a lot of great people that are also helping the cause of protecting the Thousand Islands.

When working for TILT there was never a dull day, we were always doing something new and exciting. Whether we were cleaning the trails, going to different islands, setting up for events and even working the treks. No matter what we were doing there was something new to learn and experience.   

One of the most influential people that got me interested in TILT for many years was my great uncle, Ken Deedy. He started a legacy that I hope to follow and continue to help preserve the land that is precious to me and my family. I take great pleasure in working for TILT and watching everyone come together for the same cause of protecting the Thousand Islands.

Katie Beeles
This summer provided me new and exciting experiences. Working for TILT has been valuable to me because I truly felt like I was making an impact in the community. Through outreach and trail maintenance, I have gotten the opportunity to help others safely enjoy the beauty of the Thousand Islands. I also feel like I made a difference and made good use of my summer. While in the office, I became more knowledgeable about how land trusts function, especially during a time of growth and change. This exciting dynamic has inspired me to look into working for a land trust as a career after graduation.

I have also been exposed to opportunities to expand my communication and environmental education skills. A notable experience using these skills this summer was working at the Antique Boat Museum’s Family Day. I enjoyed talking to a range of people and speaking to families about conservation in the Thousand Islands. It was rewarding to inform visitors and locals about who we are and what our mission is. I hope these families were able to enjoy our preserves and attend our treks.

I have truly enjoyed the past two summers working to keep the place we love beautiful, and I am thankful for the education and experiences that TILT has provided.

Nicole Gokey
I am so humbled to be fortunate enough to spend another year at TILT. Through the years I have been an intern, I have had the incredible opportunity to watch the organization grow, and have been able to meet incredible people who all share the same passion that I do. Being mentored by individuals who see the value and importance of conserving and protecting the 1000 Islands has helped me solidify my passion for the environment and for marketing. Learning that I have the ability to reach people through social media, flyers, and other forms of communication has left a rewarding and gratifying impression.
These skills are some that I know I will be able to take with me throughout my career. I have become a better communicator, and know that I can happily assist anyone who walks into the office and wants to learn about TILT. Engaging with others and talking about the organization has been such an enriching experience for me.

Over the years, I have also been able to see the expansion of TILT’s Treks and Events, with the Zenda Community Picnic this year reaching almost 500 attendees. Our Treks have also gained popularity, with most of our KidsTreks filling up weeks in advance. KidsTreks like Dairy Farm Day, Pollinators at Zenda, and Ichthyologist for a Day are fun and exciting ways to educate kids on the necessity of environmental sustainability and to have fun while outside. Seeing children’s eyes light up when learning about a bee hive or getting excited to meet all the animals at a working dairy farm is a huge part of what makes this internship so fulfilling.

I have been filled with gratitude for having the opportunity to work at TILT. I see the value in having an internship here not only for career purposes and learning experiences, but to have a new sense of appreciation for the place we all love.

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