Kyle Martin participated in HRWC’s Aquatic Field Internship during the summer of 2022 and helped pilot HRWC’s youth summer program at the Parkridge Community Center. He has continued to volunteer with HRWC as he finishes up his final year at Eastern Michigan University studying Environmental Science. In 2023 he was awarded the HRWC Trailblazer Stewardship Award for his leadership in the development and implementation of HRWC’s youth summer program.  Here Kyle shares the impact of his internship experience.

Joining the Huron River Watershed Council (HRWC) in its mission to protect and restore the Huron River has been more than an internship; it has been a transformative experience setting the course for my future career in environmental conservation, education, and outreach. I chose to apply to HRWC’s Aquatic Field Internship because I believed that being a member of HRWC’s tight-knit community, where there’s a shared understanding of common goals and a willingness to collaborate on projects and initiatives amongst the staff, would equip me with the tools, knowledge, and networks to make a meaningful contribution to science and society.  

Gaining technical skills in ecological monitoring

Intern doing streamside field work.
Kyle practices his environmental field work techniques during his internship.

The research, mentorship, and community engagement experiences I gained from the HRWC internship have inspired me to leave a lasting impact on environmental and wildlife conservation. Drawn by my passion for environmental education and a desire to make a tangible impact, I saw the internship as a bridge between my academic pursuits in environmental science and real-world conservation efforts. My engagement with habitat assessment surveys, field data collection, and environmental projects throughout the summer deepened my technical skills required for future graduate school research. The significance of monitoring stream erosion and surveying invasive plants is evident as I personally witnessed the tangible impact of direct involvement in preserving ecological integrity. I felt a direct connection to protecting this extraordinary ecosystem we call the Huron River.  

Engaging in youth environmental education  

Kids and interns strike a silly pose.
Kyle and Melina take a break from leading their nature walk to make a silly pose with their students.

The opportunity to spearhead HRWC’s inaugural summer education program at the Parkridge Community Center went beyond a mere job—it became a chance to plant the seeds of environmental consciousness in young minds. The Parkridge program ensures a harmonious blend of outdoor exploration, educational lessons, and recreational experiences for second and third grade students. Activities like river snorkeling, partnered with trash clean-ups, ignites a passion for river health and conservation. Guiding students through stream hydrology lessons and water quality monitoring activities was a transformative experience for me because when I was their age, I never saw any African American males or other Underrepresented Minorities working as environmental scientists or ecologists. As such, when working in HRWC’s Parkridge program, I wanted to set an example and show others that they, too, could find a place in  STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) careers, regardless of their appearance or background. Witnessing their growing appreciation for the natural world underscored the program’s success in fostering environmental stewardship and reaffirmed my beliefs that students from all backgrounds can see themselves as scientists, where the sciences reflect the rich tapestry of human experiences and where research benefits all of humanity. 

Inspiring a career in wildlife conservation and STEM Education 

A young man stands on a trail in a bright green forest, talking to kids carrying notebooks.
Kyle leads students on a nature observation walk.

My internship experience has become a compass guiding my commitment to fostering environmental stewardship and STEM education inclusivity. My experiences at HRWC have not only equipped me with the necessary skills for research but have also instilled in me a profound sense of purpose. Looking forward, I am determined to contribute to the field of wildlife ecology and promote diversity in STEM education. Pursuing graduate school in Natural Resources, specifically in wildlife conservation, ecology and management, aligns with my mission to advance scientific understanding and create a sustainable future. My future goals include becoming a university professor, focusing on behavioral ecology and the health of vertebrates. I aspire to inspire students from diverse backgrounds, fostering a sense of belonging in STEM careers and empowering them to contribute to scientific understanding.  My internship experience at the Huron River Watershed Council has empowered me to educate young minds about the importance of environmental stewardship—a profoundly cherished role I intend to carry forward for the rest of my life. 

Want to join in on the fun? Apply for the 2024 Summer Internship.

Learn more about the internship experience from our past blogs: