Fourteen Chester County Teens Complete STEM Summer Internships

fileKennett interns clear trails (Submitted Images)

AVONDALE, PA — Fourteen Kennett and Oxford Area high school students completed an eight-week paid STEM internship in summer 2021.

The Teens Turning Green internship program, hosted by The Land Conservancy for Southern Chester County, is open to high school students who have a passion for the environment and love being outdoors.

“I like nature and saw TTG as an opportunity to be outside all summer while also helping the environment and making some money,” said Lily Steffensen, a Kennett High School student. “One of my favorite parts of the program was working in a small group of like-minded people whom I became friends with and also learning about the natural world around me.”

“I learned so much about the environment, especially about native and invasive plant species in the area. I always felt that we were doing important work, whether it was planting native plants, maintaining trails for other people to enjoy nature or anything in between.”

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She said she applied after seeing a flyer about it from her school counselor and plans to work again in summer 2022.

Interns
Interns in Oxford working on a new bridge at a new preserve in Elk Township.

The Land Conservancy accepts motivated students with career interests in science, technology, engineering, or math. Preference is given to females and students whose parents do not have college degrees since an important goal of the program is to steer students from underrepresented groups toward professional STEM careers.

Rebecca Sharadin, an Oxford Area High School student, said she joined TTG to get paid for experiencing something new and related to the outdoors. She has been rethinking her career path after listening to the career presentations provided by STEM professionals.

“I didn’t join because I ever expected to glean something applicable to myself from the STEM-related aspects of the internship, but … I’ve gone back into my high school experience preparing to pursue a career path the STEM meetings presented.”

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Interns work up to 20 hours a week over eight weeks of the summer and additional weeks during various school breaks throughout the year. Successful interns are invited to return for the following summers throughout high school.

“This internship trains and engages the next generation of environmental leaders,” said Abbie Kessler, executive director of The Land Conservancy for Southern Chester County. “We are grateful for the financial support from the ERM Foundation, which saw the vision for this program and helped us get it off the ground and keep it running. A grant from the NBC10, Telemundo62, and Comcast NBCUniversal Foundation enabled us to hire more interns and add a new location to increase access to the TTG program.

“Teens Turning Green equips students with knowledge and skills that they can carry to college and their careers in science, technology, engineering, and math.”

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Work is predominantly supervised by the TLC land management staff, with additional time spent supporting outdoor environmental education programs as needed. Tasks are varied daily and includes invasive species identification and management, trail maintenance and installation, habitat assessment and data collection, and many other tasks to help teach natural resource management methods.

All interested candidates are asked to volunteer for a three-day trial period over spring break and then apply by providing recommendations and a complete application.

Applications for summer 2022 will open in February and will be posted at www.tlcforscc.org/employment.

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