Courtesy of Penn State Live
When you’re closely involved with something, it’s easy to take for granted how good it is.
But for junior Veronica Pasi, spending 10 weeks last summer managing invasive plant species as part of a hands-on internship in Illinois’s Glacial Park provided a new appreciation for her Penn State education.
A Environmental Resource Management major in the College of Agricultural Sciences, she participated in a variety of activities, ranging from nature hikes to brush removal and pesticide training. “One day was never the same as another,” she said.
“Some days we’d use chainsaws and clear brush. And we got our pesticide licenses, so other days we sprayed for thistle and teasel. It was great because in the afternoons, we’d go on hikes.”
The program offered interns the opportunity to learn from experts who came to speak with them at the park. The speakers included geographic information systems specialists, park managers and conservationists.
“I learned so much,” said Pasi, of Chads Ford, Pa. “And it gave me a new appreciation for nature and for my major. I used to go on walks and just see a tree or a pretty flower, but now I can identify what species it is and whether or not it’s native to the region.
“It’s like thinking in a different language,” she said. “When I look at a forest it means something different to me now.”
Pasi was the only Penn State student among the 12 interns who participated in the program. She noted that her internship made her aware of how well the courses offered by the College of Agricultural Sciences prepared her for her field of study.
“Working with the other interns was great, and it helped me realize what a great university Penn State is,” she said. “Not a lot of other schools have my major, and being there made me see just how unique Environmental Resource Management is.”
She also said that the internship reaffirmed her hopes of pursuing a career in her current field of study after she graduates.
“It opened my eyes to just how much is involved in conservation,” Pasi said. “Now I understand how much it has to do with the public. Parks are there for people to use, but we still have to balance that with what’s best for nature.”