Summer Intern Dianna Farrell put her Geographic Information Systems (GIS) skills to work for CELT - Cape Elizabeth Land Trust


Summer Intern Dianna Farrell put her Geographic Information Systems (GIS) skills to work for CELT

Dianna Farrell and her husband, Mark, moved to Cape Elizabeth almost four years ago. Here is an excerpt from her blog about her experience as CELT’s summer stewardship intern.

After moving to Cape Elizabeth looking for a new career, I decided to go back to school and have nearly completed my B.A. in Geography and Graduate Certificate in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) at the University of Southern Maine (USM).

I applied for Maine Coast Heritage Trust’s Conservation Internship Program because I wanted to learn more about land conservation and stewardship, and about how land trusts use GIS mapping tools to manage conserved lands.

Out in the community

I am currently wrapping up my internship with the Cape Elizabeth Land Trust (CELT), and during the past nine weeks I have enjoyed participating in a variety of community events and conservation management projects.

On June 30th, I participated in CELT’s big fundraising event for the summer, the Paint for Preservation Wet Paint Auction, and enjoyed meeting CELT members and volunteers, as well as some of the artists.

I also helped set up the CELT booth and spoke with residents about CELT’s preservation work during the Cape Elizabeth Strawberry Festival on June 29th. We gained several new members at that event and everyone enjoyed the fresh strawberries.

Dianna Farrell talks with visitors about the CELT town trail map
and preservation and education efforts during the Cape Strawberry Festival at Maxwell Farms (June 29th, 2019). Photo Credit: Tricia Wasserman

Out on the trail

Cape Elizabeth has some wonderful trails and I have assisted with trail and invasive plant monitoring efforts on some of CELT’s properties and received training on leading nature walks and tidepool exploration along Crescent Beach.

One of my trail projects involved developing a trail assessment report for Robinson Woods Preserve, a popular preserve frequented by residents and visitors for hiking, biking, and relaxing walks through the woods.

This report will aid the Stewardship Committee with maintenance planning efforts. This project is helping me to learn how trails are maintained, and the work and planning involved in keeping trails in good condition.

Back to map-making

A significant focus of my internship with CELT is using GIS techniques to create and publish updated trail maps and map the location of invasive plant species for CELT properties, and organizing geospatial data.

For example, I recently finished creating new trail maps for Hobstone Woods Preserve and Great Pond Preserve. These maps will be the standard format for all CELT trail maps to maintain a consistent style across all the properties.

I have especially enjoyed the trail map project for a couple reasons. First, I hike the trails to make sure the maps are correct before publishing them. There are truly some beautiful places here in Cape Elizabeth and as I walk the trails as part of the mapping project, I am also forming deeper connections to the woods, fields, and coastal areas of my home.

Second, since there are several components to mapping properties, trails, and specific features using GIS, I have learned new GIS skills and techniques through the variety of tasks that I completed.

New trail map posted at Hobstone Woods Preserve Kiosk

Expanding skill sets

Some of these tasks include creating maps that are clear and intuitive for trail users, developing maps that support volunteer efforts for invasive plant removal, and managing and organizing geospatial data. I also learned more about GIS, in general, from CELT members with GIS experience.

My final map project was creating the GIS layers for the new Cape Elizabeth Town and Trail Map. This was a significant undertaking and I am very happy with the progress over the past few weeks. Updated map copies will be available in the CELT office this Fall. Stay tuned!

CELT is doing great work in Cape Elizabeth and I am thankful for this internship opportunity. I plan to stay involved in a volunteer capacity and look forward to seeing you out on the trails!

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