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News Intern for the Summer

  • Division of Ecological Restoration
Intern Jessica Holleran in the field with DER’s Nick Wildman and Eric Ford

This summer DER was extremely fortunate to have recent Mass Maritime Academy graduate Jessica Holleran as an intern. As Jess describes below, her work over the ten weeks brought us all great benefit and touched on many of DER’s activities across the state.

My time with DER has been extremely well-spent. Being part of a team with like-minded and passionate individuals was such an incredible experience. Since high school, I have always been interested in a career in ecosystem restoration, and when I found out that Mass Maritime Academy was partnering with DER for a post-grad internship, I leapt at the opportunity. The goals of this internship were to incorporate me as a fully-functioning staff member and allow me to assist in all parts of DER’s work, while also collaborating with partners and other government agencies.

Nick Wildman, my direct supervisor, immediately put me at ease and promised me that I would get the opportunity for both office and field work. He definitely delivered. My attitude going into this internship was to step outside of my comfort zone and learn new skills. My first week was spent learning the ins and outs of IMPLAN, an economic modeling tool used by DER to quantify the state-wide economic benefits of ecological restoration projects. Although intimidated at first, I soon became comfortable with the software and how to use it after watching countless YouTube tutorials and badgering Nick with a million questions. I even wrote a standard method of how to use IMPLAN for our restoration work. The weeks afterwards were a blur.

I visited countless completed sites such as the infamous Eel River site and got to see process restoration techniques that I learned about by reading technical reports implemented right in front of me! Alex Hackman headed the tour group that day and it was fascinating to hear about construction techniques and his initial ideas of what the site would look like post-restoration versus the observations we made that day. On field days with Kate Bentsen, I learned how to calculate discharge using a flow meter and how to read gages on countless riverine sites scattered across the state. I also learned how to set up a time lapse camera and how to best utilize time-lapse photography on these sites. Eric Ford taught me how to delineate wetlands and classify soils. Kris Houle taught me how to use surveying equipment, and was even patient with me when I moved the legs of the tripod, even though the tide was rising very fast over the data loggers. With Nick, I met with various partners of restoration projects in various phases, from feasibility to vegetation monitoring.

Even though most of the experience I gained through this internship was brand-new knowledge to me, the staff at DER were always so patient and willing to teach me. I can’t thank them enough for welcoming me to the team and treating me like a colleague.

Division of Ecological Restoration 

DER restores and protects rivers, wetlands, and watersheds in Massachusetts for the benefit of people and the environment.


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