Making a Difference in the Field: TLC’s Conservation Leader Internship Program is Underway

Published on
30 June 2021

“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.” – Andy Warhol

TLC’s Conservation Leader Internship Program (CLIP) is a paid learning experience that gives students the knowledge and hands-on skills needed to become a conservation professional. Launched this year, it is the only program of its kind in the conservation field.

Kim Elsenbroek, TLC’s land conservation specialist, came up with the idea of forming an internship to support women and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) individuals. After 12 years in the field, Kim noticed a lack of diversity and wanted to do something creative to make a difference.

The people participating in CLIP represent more than half of the nation’s population, but that diversity is lost in the professional field of conservation. With the hands-on training and skills gained from CLIP, participants will have the skills for other jobs and internships in the field.

“As a young professional, I could not afford to take on an internship that did not pay as I needed to buy food, pay rent, gas, car expenses, etc.,” says Kim. She adds, “Because CLIP offers a living wage, it opens the door to a larger pool of people who are eligible to participate.”

Four CLIP students and one apprentice were chosen from a pool of applicants for their enthusiasm, interest and dedication to the environment.

Each day of the internship will bring something different for the team. They will learn how to:
• Manage invasive species
• Collect native seed
• Monitor Plants of Concern
• Identify and collect plants
• Study art and photography in nature
• Use Geographic Information Systems (GIS) for mapping and data analysis
• Create native landscapes
• Make the most of career development skills such as giving presentations, resume formatting and more.

The CLIPterns will also participate in a glacial tour to learn about McHenry County’s landscape. Additional learning will include field trips to: the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Small Waters, Friends of Hackmatack, Bluestem Ecological, McHenry County College, Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie and Nachusa Grasslands, among others.

“The goal is, after 11 weeks, the CLIPterns will have significantly increased their skills in the field of conservation,” says Kim. She adds, “They’ll also have a network of professional contacts for future jobs and internships and will have learned about the many paths to a career in conservation.”

You can help support this one-of-a-kind program! Click here if you would like to make a donation to support CLIP.

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