As I got into my car on Monday morning, for a split second, I thought “What am I doing right now???”
I mean seriously, I sat there and realized I had no idea what the day would bring. I didn’t know what the sanctuary hardly even looked like. I had no clue who my boss that I had been corresponding in emails and over the phone looked like. I had no clue what the roads leading to the sanctuary were like, what shoes I needed to wear for the day, and 100 other random worries about what the unknown was going to bring me today and for the rest of the summer.
But nonetheless, 8:05 flashed across my dash and I wanted to make sure to be a few minutes early before the 8:30 start time for my first day.
Tall trees, wide open spaces, a dirt road lined with evergreens right out of a movie. If anything, the commute to work was a positive experience.
I pull up to the gate surrounding the property, put it in park, fumble around with my gate key and take my first step onto TWS property. As I was pulling through the gates, someone else pulled in behind me. Of course I didn’t recognize them, it was my first day! I went ahead and decided they looked like they knew what they were doing so it was fine. Or I just let someone on to the property I wasn’t supposed to. It was really 50/50 at that point.
Luckily I ran into a caretake who directed me to where I needed to park and then another employee who directed me to what building I needed to go to. I walked in and finally got to meet the person who would be taking me under their wing all summer and I knew right away it was a good fit. And then the blur of a week starts there.
Huddle meetings. Media meetings. Educational Meetings. Tours of the property. Safety presentations. A safety quiz. Walk throughs. So much information coming in, praying I was retaining it all.
But what stood out the most to me from this first week was the level of hands on experience I was able to get to assist in the learning process. My boss allowed to me interact with questions and comments on social media. I was quickly progressing through the levels of safety to allow myself to fly solo when needed in some areas of the sanctuary. I was writing posts, scheduling posts, getting to use my own images. I was learning so much about technical skills both in camera, editing and handling large quantities of images, but also with driving good social media content and learning how to run a highly personal, interactive account. And all within the first week.
It was nice to get the weekend to explore, regroup and get prepared for week two. Explored another state park, caught up on laundry and cooked a bit. At St. Croix park there was the sight of the Civilian Conservation Corps. It was super interesting to learn more about the history, definitely look it up. Makes for a great read. I was also amazed at the amount of wildflowers that grow all over this state.
And just like that, week one is in the books. There are so many things that I was able to experience, learn, and start to understand in the span of a week it was intense. I told one of my housemates I felt like we’ve been here for either a month or a day, one of the two. Scary movies have been a central theme to bond around this week at the house it has seemed. This high-energy, information packed (and fun) week was one I won’t soon forget, but all too soon will miss. But I’m going to live in the now of things, take it day-by-day and try to remember every detail along the way.
And to cap it all off we just returned from a swimming escapade in the Kettle River. It’s gonna be a good week.
Clayton Steward is a Junior at the University of Saint Mary, studying Digital Communications. This is his blog, telling his story from his summer internship.