Skip to main content

The Future of Conservation – TLC’s CLIP Interns Talk about What They Learned This Summer

Published on
06 September 2022

Another summer has come and gone, and TLC is excited that four more interns from the Conservation Leader Internship Program (CLIP) are entering the world with new skills and knowledge to share. CLIP is a paid learning experience that gives students the knowledge and hands-on skills needed to become a conservation professional.

The CLIP program is designed to increase diversity in the field of conservation by supporting women and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) individuals.

What did they learn? They learned skills like how to manage invasive species, collect native seed, study art and photography in nature, GIS for mapping and data analysis, career development skills and much more.

Where did they go? This year’s interns got to go on field trips to Glacial Park, Small Waters, Midwein Tallgrass Prairie, Nachusa Grasslands and many other places.

We asked this year’s interns: What did you learn this summer, or what was your favorite moment?

  • Breanna Christensen ’22:

In one summer with TLC, the CLIP program has taught me an incredible amount of information—way more than I’ve learned in any college class. We’ve learned a multitude of conservation techniques between invasive species management and native seed collection, while also learning technical skills with the brush and chainsaws and Geographic Information System mapping (GIS). Now I walk around and can’t help but point out plant species I see to my friends and family! I’m also grateful for getting to meet so many people with a variety of experience in the field, which will be helpful in deciding what we’re going to do moving forward. One of my favorite moments was on our field trip to Nachusa Grasslands when us CLIPterns were riding on a bench in the truck bed through the prairies. Amelia tapped me on my shoulder, and I looked up to see a huge bison watching us all from just 10-15 feet away!

TLC’s interns visited Nachusa Grasslands this summer.
  • Isaac Servin ’22:

I loved my time here at The Land Conservancy. I enjoyed exploring all of the sites and experiencing the hard work everyone does here to maintain the beauty and health of this region’s ecosystems. Learning about the process of restoration was very interesting to me. I learned things that I would have never thought I would learn like herbiciding, chainsawing and felling trees, and identifying native and non-native plants. It was truly a great time and I have great appreciation for everyone I met, especially my instructors and for my new friends; Bree, Amelia, Casper and Kristi. Thank you TLC for giving me this opportunity, and thank you Kim for guiding us through the great efforts of the conservation field and showing us how rewarding it is to take care of our environment regardless of how difficult it may be. Once again, thanks everyone at TLC.

Isaac holds a snake found along the trail at Midewin Tallgrass Prairie.
  • Amelia Swiecki ’22:

CLIP offered me so many experiences and things to learn this summer that I’ll never forget. I gained new skills like chainsawing and brush saw use, which I never thought I’d get to say I could do. I have much better plant identification capabilities and can differentiate between native and non-native invasive plants. We had amazing opportunities to visit both local and more distant sites where we learned about all the opportunities within the field of conservation. My favorite memory from CLIP was spotting the most stunning butterflies at Boloria Meadows at our butterfly monitoring with Pete Jackson. We all became much better at identifying butterflies within just an hour as we shouted out names whenever a butterfly flew past. We monitored 13 species and about 47 butterflies in total. My favorite was this tiger swallowtail we spotted sitting on some Joe Pye Weed. I’ll always remember this summer and everything I learned from CLIP.

A tiger swallowtail butterfly rests on Joe Pye Weed at Boloria Meadows Nature Preserve.
  • Gretchen Casper ’22:

I learned so much during the CLIP program. I learned about many different invasive and native plants, their defining characteristics, and how to identify them in the field. I really like identifying and learning about new plants, and I spent a lot of time on the Naturalist app. I also learned about GIS and how to use it. I learned how to make different herbicides, and how to use a backpack sprayer and squeeze bottle. I learned chain saw and brush saw safety and skills. I also learned a lot about the wide range of different jobs in the conversation field. Some of my favorite moments from CLIP include getting ice cream together, talking about our lives during lunch, using a chainsaw and learning about plants.

The CLIP interns learned plant identification in the classroom and in the field in the summer of 2022.

Do you know a high school or college student who would be interested in participating in CLIP? The program will be open to applications in January 2023, so watch for upcoming announcements.

You can help support this one-of-a-kind program in our area! If you would like to make a donation to support CLIP, go to Thank you!