Editor's Note: The ATC's summer public relations intern, Aaron Weitzner, chatted with other current and former interns about their experience with the organization. Here's a snapshot of their conversation!
Aaron: Hey everyone, I wanted to start off by asking about your most memorable moments during the internship. I know mine was singing some classic Green Day with Naman while hiking on the Appalachian Trail.
Naman: I sang way better.
Rachel Brill: Representing the ATC at FloydFest (in Floyd, Virginia) was the most memorable for me because there were so many different people, and it was cool to see how such varied personalities all cared about the environment and the Trail.
Carrie: I saw multiple bears while conducting fieldwork!
Mullins: My first day I fell down the spiral staircase at the ATC's headquarters...memorable for all the wrong reasons.
Krysta: I have you all beat. When Carlen (the ATC's land steward) and I were on a piece of property in Pennsylvania searching for ATV traffic, she all of a sudden tripped, fell, somehow caught herself and did some “ninja turtle move” and wound up on her feet again. After I made sure she was okay, I couldn’t stop laughing. I knew if it were me I would have broken at least three bones in my body.
Aaron: Only at the ATC would you see a “ninja turtle move” at work. What did you all like most about the internship? I know I enjoyed being with the marketing team and my fellow interns in such a collaborative space.
Max: It is very hard to pick one thing that I “liked the most.” But I’m going to say the people I worked with. Almost everybody at the ATC worked hard to make me feel like I was part of the team from day one. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the people who were critical to my personal growth during my time in Harpers Ferry. People like Anne Baker, John Csordas, and Mark Saari had such a huge impact on me and my internship’s success.
Eliane: I loved working with people who are so passionate about their job. Laurie (the ATC's information services manager) was an amazing supervisor, and coming to work every day was a pleasure because of the outstanding work environment.
Nicole: What I enjoyed most about interning at the ATC was the sense of community within the office. It was also really relaxed; I got to work at a bright yellow sofa instead of a desk.
Rachel: Yeah, the whole office was really fun. I liked that I almost always wanted to come into work.
Krysta: And every single employee of the ATC was willing to lend a helping hand to any intern in need. I really appreciated that.
Allison: I really loved seeing the Southern Appalachians from Virginia to Georgia. I’ve been able to see so many beauty spots from Max Patch to Wesser Bald to Roan Mountain to Grayson Highlands to McAfee Knob. The south has something to say!
Mullins: This might sound weird, but it was nice to finally put faces to my thru-hiking experience. During a thru-hike you hear reference to the ATC, the organization that keeps the trail functioning. It was inspiring to meet some of the individuals that work so hard to simply keep the Trail open for the enjoyment of long-distant backpackers and daywalkers alike.
Carrie: I enjoyed the opportunity to back up my research with observations and data collection on the Trail. It also gave me a chance to relive fond memories from my thru-hike and interact with this year’s group of short and long distance hikers.
Aaron: Speaking of thru-hikes, were any of you inspired by the internship to go out and hike? Or in a completely different way, like wanting to work for a nonprofit in the future?
Eliane: I was super inspired by my internship experience at ATC to thru-hike and continue working in a nonprofit environment. Since my internship ended I already have been out on the Trail for my first solo trek. I want to continue being involved in the A.T. community for the rest of my life.
Allison: I am a traveler, and it has just helped to see beautiful public lands right before my eyes. It inspires me to push for more youth and diversity activities in our Trail maintaining clubs.
Krysta: I was already very much into the outdoors before working with the organization, but if definitely inspired me to stay outdoors and to keep doing what makes ME happy. I was already planning on section hiking parts of the A.T. in small pieces; however, working with the organization made that passion burn even harder inside.
Max: I’ve also always had a love of the outdoors, so I was not lacking in inspiration to go out backpacking. But I think my internship actually changed my mind about thru- hiking. I think my personal hiking style and my life would be better suited to complete the A.T. via section hiking from Georgia to Maine.
Carrie: As a recreational hiker, I now have a much greater appreciation for the effort that goes into maintaining a recreation opportunity on public lands like the A.T. And as a student of public policy, I have discovered a completely new way of applying both my professional and personal interests.
Nicole: Working at the ATC did make me realize that I want to continue working for a nonprofit organization in the future. Being able to see the difference you make in the world is extremely rewarding. It has also revitalized my love of the outdoors and my want to get back out on the trails and continue hiking.
Aaron: I definitely would love to work outdoors in the future, nonprofit or not.
Naman: Yeah, living in Harpers Ferry itself, I was never too far away from the Trail. I hiked on nearby trails each week with ATC colleges or sometimes by myself.
Krysta: If only there was a job where I was outside all the time.
Nicole: I agree, some of my favorite memories from this summer involve being outside on the Trail.
Allison: The office is a productive place, but a conservation job wouldn’t be that without getting outside! Being able to go and volunteer with clubs and venture out with the office has been a great perk! I always say it’s my yoga side that helps me tap into the calming outdoors life and treat it like TV.
Aaron: Run into any interesting hikers out on the Trail or in the office?
Max: I talked with a thru-hiker from Germany during the FlipFlop Kickoff Weekend (in April) who was a pretty cool dude, and I wish I could remember his Trail name.
Eliane: Getting to know hikers from all over the world was incredible. They motivated me and inspired me to live my life in a more positive and simplistic manner.
Nicole: Getting to know hikers was one of the best parts of interning. Everyone has a story to share, and as hikers, we all have had experiences that are relatable.
Naman: Getting to know hikers was great. I was always interested in the story behind their Trail names (mine was Namasty). Also not just hikers, but the staff and club volunteers I met during the ATC Biennial Conference (in July) were interesting.
Rachel: It was really cool meeting the hikers. Some of them were awesome and we talked for hours and some were weird or creepy, but they all had interesting stories and it made me feel like part of a community.
Aaron: Cool, creepy, and interesting. Sounds like the ATC to me.
Interested in applying for an internship with the ATC? Learn more here.