Photo of Morgan Goff, a junior conservation and community planning major at UW-Stevens Point, who is an intern at the North Central Conservancy Trust in Stevens Point.

Morgan Goff, a junior conservation and community planning major at UW-Stevens Point, is an intern at the North Central Conservancy Trust in Stevens Point.

An internship at the North Central Conservancy Trust (NCCT) in Stevens Point has given University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point junior Morgan Goff a variety of opportunities to learn about non-profit work.

One of her special projects is updating service maps for the organization’s website, using what she has learned in the classroom as a minor in geographic information systems (GIS) and spatial analysis.

“I have to rely on my GIS background and apply it, so it’s testing my knowledge,” said the New Berlin native. “It’s been a huge learning experience for me.”

Goff is the latest of four conservation and community planning majors from UW-Stevens Point to take advantage of the Pointers Connect Internship by working at NCCT. Coordinated through the Academic Career and Advising Center on campus, the program connects students with regional non-profits, government agencies and small businesses.

One of the 40 land trust organizations in the state, NCCT serves eight counties in Central Wisconsin and protects more than 5,200 acres of privately-owned land from development.

“The Pointers Connect Internship is beneficial for both NCCT and our students,” said Austin Holland, an assistant professor in community and regional planning within the UW-Stevens Point College of Natural Resources. “It allows students to use and learn skills to solve community and sustainability issues such as conservation land planning, and it provides $1,500 in salary reimbursement for NCCT.”

Land trust organizations don’t often have the funding for these internships, said Holland, but there are full-time jobs available. “This program allows our students to get paid for meaningful work and experience so they can earn jobs in the competitive planning field once they graduate.”

Interns work with NCCT Executive Director Chris Radford and Outreach and Development Coordinator Becky Wadleigh, a 2014 and 2017 UW-Stevens Point graduate. They meet with community and board members, plan meetings and fundraising events and work on special projects that aid land conservation. The students also act as a liaison between NCCT and student organizations at UW-Stevens Point that help with preservation projects.

“We work with students to align their skill sets with the organization’s needs,” said Radford. This includes learning new technology, such as software for monitoring land and stewardship efforts, and working directly with landowners on their trust agreement.

“At the end of their time here, students can say that their work helped protect a high-quality natural habitat in Central Wisconsin, and that it will stay protected forever,” Radford said.

Photo of Nicole Tennies, a December 2023 UWSP graduate, who had an internship at NCCT that led to a job in land conservation.

Nicole Tennies, a December 2023 UWSP graduate, had an internship at NCCT that led to a job in land conservation.

For December 2023 graduate Nicole Tennies, Campbellsport, her NCCT internship last fall led to a job as a development coordinator with The Cedar Lakes Conservation Foundation, which supports land trust agreements in Washington County, Wis.

“I learned so much from Chris and Becky,” she said. “I had opportunities to monitor properties, work in outreach and marketing, hear insight from board members and volunteers and help with fundraising for the annual NCCT dinner.”

Tennies has always had a love for the outdoors. “I wanted a career where I could make an impact on the earth for future generations,” she said. “I chose to attend UWSP for its natural resources program, and the conservation and community planning major caught my eye because of its focus on the human dimensions of natural resources.”

Her new job allows her to work closely with great people and volunteers in a beautiful area, Tennies said.

Goff is finding the Pointers Connect Internship “a win-win opportunity that allows me to make money while furthering my education,” she said. In addition to her GIS mapping project, she has learned the ins and outs of non-profit work, from taking donations and writing thank you notes to attending meetings and working outside on the conservation properties.

She recently joined Wadleigh to give a formal presentation for a community dinner and speaker series at Treehaven, one of UW-Stevens Point’s field stations. “It’s not often that a student gets an opportunity like that,” she said.

Goff hopes to find future employment with a land trust organization in the Milwaukee area, near her hometown.

“I’m excited about working for a non-profit and having a job that is mission-driven, not profit driven,” she said. “NCCT is all about protecting land, and seeing people passionate about that is inspiring to me. It’s definitely something I want to be a part of.”

Tennies encourages any student with a passion for conservation as well as working closely with people to go into the conservation and community planning field. She is very grateful for having found the internship with NCCT in her final semester at UW-Stevens Point.

“It opened doors for me I didn’t know were there and helped me find a job I never thought I’d be doing,” she said. “But I love it.”

Written by UW-Stevens Point

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