Island Conservancy Completes Summer Internship
The closing ceremony of the 9th annual Conservancy Internship took place this Tuesday at the Conservancy Nature Center in Avalon Canyon. This program was started in 2004 in honor of long-time President of the Conservancy, Rose Ellen Gardner and is referred to as “REGI” aka Rose Ellen Gardner Internship.
Local high school students must apply for acceptance into this six week work program by providing an essay, obtaining teacher referrals, and going through an interview process. This year, the four participants were Leia Moyse, Joseph Vickers, Ariella Markowitz and Makaela Ballard. For Moyse and Vickers, this was their second consecutive year in the program.
Conservancy Education Director Frank Hein stated, “We only have funding for 4 students to participate each year. They work in every department of the Conservancy and learn about the many elements necessary for sustaining and protecting the Island. For most of them, it is the first formal job interview they have.”
This is Alexa Johnson’s third year as a coordinator for the program, but is her first year as a resident of Avalon and employee of the Conservancy. During the first two years, Johnson traveled to the Island to work with the students. But in March, Johnson was hired as the Education Program Assistant and couldn’t be happier. “I love living on Catalina and working for the Conservancy,” she stated.
Rich Zanelli, best known to local students as “Mr. Z” has been involved with the program since its inception 9 years ago. He is the School and Youth Programs Specialist in the Conservancy Education Department. The Conservancy provides a variety of educational programs at Avalon’s school, and Zanelli is active in all of them, including REGI. As such, having watched this year’s four students grow u, he looked on with pride during the event. “I could not be more proud,” Zanelli stated. “Every year, this program gets better and better, even when it seems like it couldn’t possibly be any better.”
Conservancy President Anne Muscat was present and addressed the audience about the program. Comparing it to the recent Olympic sprinting competition in England, she stated, “As in the Olympics we recently watched, this program ‘passes the torch’ of understanding on to the next generation.”
Each of these high school students presented a speech regarding their experience in the program. They were remarkably articulate, candid, and appreciative of the opportunity to participate in the program. As each of them spoke, it was evident that this experience had a positive, educational and personally enriching effect on their lives.
Attendance not only included relatives and friends of the participants, but a wide array of interested locals. All were enthusiastic and encouraged by the positive impact of this program.