Alyssa Cooke (@countessalyssa on Twitter) is a junior at University of Illinois at Chicago studying biology/pre-dental.
By Alyssa Cooke
This summer, I have had the great pleasure of interning for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
I’ve performed tasks I never even knew existed (like electrofishing). Needless to say, having this internship has sparked my interest in plant biology and an overall new zeal for knowledge.
A lot of people have asked me why I am interning with the IDNR, since I probably will be studying dentistry in a couple of years. I only have one answer for them: passion. I have a great passion for nature and the outdoors and all of the natural resources we are so luckily able to enjoy. Whether we realize it or not, most of these resources are not renewable. I would harbor a great guilt inside myself if I did not do something about it for future generations to come.
One of my favorite parts of the internship is working the Leave No Child Inside events. During these events, we teach kids from urban areas (most have never even seen a fishing pole) how to fish, shoot archery, build forts and just enjoy being outside. Little steps like these will help our generation get back on track and more in touch with nature. I love watching the smiles on the kids’ faces as they realize that being outside actually can be fun; that we aren’t just crazy tree-huggers.
“I love watching the smiles on the kids’ faces as they realize that being outside actually can be fun.”
Some other things I have had the honor doing include invasive species removal, prairie restoration, herbicide application, goose banding, going to Gov. Pat Quinn’s press conference and meeting him, community outreach, food desert outreach, planting trees, teaching preschoolers about trees and their importance and following Conservation Police officers out on a boat out in Lake Michigan!
My advice to people out there thinking about interning is to just do it. Nothing bad will ever come out of it, and you might gain a new appreciation for subjects you never even knew you would.