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Saturday, January 29, 2022

14 Chester County teens brighten environment through internships

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Avondale – Fourteen Kennett and Oxford area high school students completed an eight-week STEM paid internship in the summer of 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 the outdoors.

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

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“I learned a lot about the environment, especially about the invasive plant species in the area. I always felt like we were doing important work, whether it was growing native plants, maintaining paths for others to enjoy nature or anything in between.”

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

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

Oxford-area high school student Rebecca Chardin said she joined TTG to get paid to try something new related to the outdoors. She has been rethinking her career path after listening to professional presentations by STEM professionals.

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“I didn’t join because I expected one day to get something true to myself from the STEM aspects of my internship, but… I went back to my high school experience to prepare to pursue the career path offered by the STEM meetings.”

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

“This internship trains and engages the next generation of environmental leaders,” said Abby Kessler, executive director of The Land Conservancy for Southern Chester County. “We are grateful for the financial support of the ERM Foundation, who saw the vision for this program and helped us launch and sustain it. A grant from NBC10, Telemundo62 and Comcast NBCUniversal Foundation enabled us to recruit more interns and add a new site to increase the reach of the TTG program.

“The Teens Turning Green program equips students with the knowledge and skills they can take on in college and careers in STEM.”

The work is overseen by TLC’s land management staff, with additional time spent supporting outdoor environmental education programs as needed. Tasks vary daily and include identification and management of invasive species, trail maintenance and installation, habitat assessment and data collection, and many other tasks to help teach natural resource management techniques.

All interested candidates are required to volunteer for a three-day trial period during spring break and then apply by submitting recommendations and a completed application form.

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

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