Field Experience at Dauner Martin Nature Sanctuary

Two enthusiastic interns and a grant from the Franklin D. Adams Fund of the Community Foundation of Greater Flint made a big difference this summer for one of MNA’s most popular nature sanctuaries, the Dauner Martin Nature Sanctuary in Fenton.

Andrew Borin recounts his summer internship experience:

Our time with MNA has proved to be a positive experience for both Ashlie and I. Neither of us could have imagined the positive reactions that we received from the volunteers, MNA staff and community members who recognized the work we accomplished in our time at Dauner Martin Nature Sanctuary. Ashlie and I came from different academic backgrounds but shared one common goal during the internship: to work hard and make the largest impact we could. Every day we gave our all and pushed through the never-ending wall of invasive shrubs that plagues the sanctuary. The most common of which was autumn olive. Dauner Martin was our home for the summer and offered many challenges.

Dauner Martin - Andrew BaconWhat Dauner Martin Nature Sanctuary lacks in rare species, it makes up for in the role it plays within the community. The sanctuary sits within a business district in Fenton, Michigan. This urban setting makes it a unique sanctuary for Michigan Nature Association and offers benefits and problems not found within their other properties. With two entrances into the sanctuary located close to a busy road, the roughly 4.5 miles of trails are frequented by Fenton’s local citizens. Having a 155-acre green space in a city offers many positives ecologically and for the community. Not only do visitors get to hike and enjoy the pine plantations, prairies, wetlands and hardwood forests offered by the sanctuary, it is also used by local organizations to help promote outdoor activities and an appreciation for nature. On the ecological side of things, the sanctuary also acts as a haven for an assortment of wildlife and promotes ground water recharge.

native plant garden - Andrew BorinOur common workday included a variety of activities. Trash clean up and trail maintenance was usually reserved for our down-time. We also installed a 1,700 square foot native garden which we hope will grow and flourish. But the majority of our time was spent cutting down invasive shrubs using power tools and treating the stumps with herbicide. After the shrubs were cut, we would haul the branches through the understory and stack them into piles. Overall we cleared over 10 acres performing these day-to-day activities.

Ashlie and Andrew at DMWith the internship completed, Ashlie and I are headed back to school to finish our final two semesters before entering the workforce. I will be finishing my degree in Plant Biology at Michigan State University with the intention of working in habitat conservation and restoration. Ashlie intends to work with fisheries in the Upper Peninsula after completing her degree in Fisheries and Wildlife at the University of Michigan. As we look towards our futures, I speak for both of us when I say that we will always look back at our time at Dauner Martin fondly and I’m sure we’ll be back to see what improvements have been made to the sanctuary. We can’t thank MNA enough for giving us this experience and will use what we have learned as a platform, upon which we will build our future careers.

Thank you Andrew and Ashlie for all of your hard work!


Summer Stewardship Internships Open!

Stewardship Assistant
Volunteer Internship
Michigan Nature Association

Location: Variable by day – work will take place at numerous MNA sanctuaries across southeast Michigan.

Duration: Negotiable, May–September is preferred

Time Commitment:  Applicants should be available a minimum of one full day – can be up to 10 hours (including drive time) – per week and arrange for their own transportation to the day’s meeting location. Options to carpool with staff or other interns may be available.  Internship will be considered fulfilled when the Stewardship Assistant has completed 18 full days of volunteer service with MNA.

Required Experience: Some previous experience in the environmental field – can be through education, volunteering, past internships or jobs, etc.  Ability to perform physically demanding work outside, in a wide range of weather conditions, while maintaining a positive attitude.  Ability to communicate professionally and politely is a must as there is a high level of interaction involved with staff, stewards, and volunteers.

Responsibilities:  The Stewardship Assistant’s primary responsibility will be to assist MNA staff, stewards, and volunteers in the management of sanctuaries through various forms of field activity, which may include: removal of invasive species, trail and boundary maintenance, participating in controlled burns, conducting species surveys, site monitoring, etc.

This volunteer internship will include opportunities to:

  • Gain valuable insight into the diverse and often hidden natural environment of Michigan.  With 170+ sanctuaries that are spread across both peninsulas, interns will be exposed to a wide variety of Michigan’s animals and plants, some that are exclusive to the state.
  • Work outdoors in an academic setting that also involves getting one’s hands dirty.  You will learn basic plant identification skills, become familiar with high quality examples of many of the natural communities that occur in southeast Michigan, and gain experience with a range of common management techniques used in the restoration field.
  • Work with experts in the various fields that share a common goal in protecting and preserving our environment.  Botanists, wildlife biologists, ecologists, etc. are working directly at MNA or are closely affiliated with our organization.
  • Learn how to deal with multiple parties across different levels of involvement in the organization, along with gaining excellent communication skills.
  • Become part of an energetic and highly motivated non-profit land protection organization.

*Please Note: This is an unpaid volunteer internship.

Background Information on MNA:

The Michigan Nature Association (MNA), the state’s first land preservation organization, manages and maintains over 170 nature sanctuaries across the state, totaling over 11,000 acres, through ownership and conservation easement.  Most of the sanctuaries house rare habitats and species and are managed to protect their viability.

For More Information or to Apply:

For more information on this position or to apply, please contact MNA Regional Stewardship Organizer, Rachel Maranto, at or 517-525-2627.  Application materials should include resume, cover letter, and contact information for 3 references.  For more information on MNA, please see our web site at

MNA Seeks Summer Communications Interns

By Annie Perry, MNA Intern

College internships teach you skills you can apply in a career. They give you hands-on experience in your chosen field and prepare you for the job you’ll get after graduation. But some internships give you more than that; some teach you more about yourself, or they teach you about the community and natural environments in which you live.

In my opinion, those are the internships that are truly worthwhile, and that is the type of education I’ve received as a communications intern for MNA.

If those experiences (plus a lot of writing) sound interesting, then MNA has an internship opportunity for you.

In addition to hiring stewardship interns, MNA is looking for communications interns for summer 2013. Communications interns are supervised by MNA’s Outreach & Development Specialists and develop promotional and educational print materials, create original content for the MNA blog, help manage MNA’s social media accounts, write and edit articles for MNA’s magazine, and write press releases. Because the job is heavily writing-based, students enrolled in journalism, public relations or communications programs are encouraged to apply, although other qualified candidates will be considered. Summer internships run from May until August, although exact dates and schedules are flexible.

According to the job description I read when I applied for the internship, MNA offers “real-world experience in a friendly setting,” and that is exactly what I’ve experienced while working here. I’m hoping to get a job in public relations or social media after graduation, and the projects I’ve completed during my internship have taught me practical skills that I can use in my career. I’ve learned to write using an organization’s voice instead of my own—a skill every PR or social media professional must have—and I’ve further developed my writing and organizational skills. I’ve also learned how to take complex information and communicate it in a way that is easy to read and understand.

But, more importantly, I’ve learned more and more about Michigan’s habitats and species each time I research a new post or article. I’ve always been interested in Michigan’s environment, but didn’t know that much about specific habitats or species until I began this internship. For me, learning about Michigan’s different natural environments and sharing that knowledge is the most rewarding part of being a communications intern for MNA.

For more information, contact Outreach & Development Specialist Allison Barszcz at or 517-655-5655. Application materials should include a resume and writing sample.

MNA Seeks Summer Stewardship Interns

By Annie Perry, MNA Intern

MNA is looking for Natural Area Stewardship interns for summer 2013. Under supervision of MNA’s stewardship staff, interns will focus on maintaining natural communities on MNA sanctuaries and will work with some of the most intact native natural communities in Michigan.

2012 Summer Stewardship Interns

Rebecca Andrews, Rowanna Humphreys and Cara Burwell were stewardship interns at the Newaygo Prairie Nature Sanctuary in summer 2012. Photo by Matt Schultz.

Summer internships may last from May until August, but the exact dates are negotiable. The hours, location and projects are all flexible—interns can work two to four days a week, can work in most parts of Michigan, and can get involved on a project that interests them. Interns can participate in conducting invasive species management, conducting plant and animal surveys, boundary making, sanctuary monitoring, leading volunteers, management plan writing, trail maintenance, and other tasks as assigned.

This past summer, MNA had four stewardship interns: Michigan State University environmental biology student Sam Edelen and Grand Valley State University natural resource management students Rebecca Andrews, Cara Burwell and Rowanna Humphreys.  Sam worked with Katherine Hollins, the regional stewardship organizer for the eastern Lower Peninsula, on several projects at sanctuaries in the eastern Lower Peninsula. Rebecca, Cara and Rowanna worked with Matt Schultz, the regional stewardship organizer for the western Lower Peninsula, at the Newaygo Prairie Nature Sanctuary. The four interns mainly worked on invasive species control and removal.

Sam’s work on invasive species removal, roughly 120 hours in all, was extremely important to helping the natural biodiversity of the sanctuaries’ plants and animals. Because invasive species threaten the habitats of native plants and animals—including those that are of special concern, threatened or endangered—they must be managed in order to promote the area’s natural biodiversity.

“I spend a significant amount of my field time on invasive species, and it is wonderful to have another pair of eyes and hands to help,” Katherine said of Sam’s assistance at the sanctuaries.

There’s more to MNA internships that protecting the land; through hands-on experience at some of MNA’s beautiful sanctuaries, summer stewardship interns learn more about the natural environment and develop skills they can apply to their future careers. A highlight of the internship for Cara was seeing the succession of the prairie at the Newaygo Prairie Nature Sanctuary and learning about the sanctuary’s plant species. And Rebecca, who hopes to work in habitat restoration or wildlife management once she finishes her degree, plans to spread the invasive species removal techniques she learned during her internship to others with similar interests.

But for Rowanna, the beauty of the Newaygo Prairie Nature Sanctuary was what made the internship worthwhile.

“The view of the prairie was always breathtaking and so peaceful every time I went there,” she said. “It made me want to work there so that we wouldn’t lose that view to invasive species.”

For more information on the internship, please contact Andrew Bacon, stewardship coordinator at 517-655-5655 or  Application materials should include a resume, cover letter and two references.