Interns explore the root causes of environmental degradation, research potential projects and funding sources and use a hands-on, team-based approach to propose and implement solutions.
Our Field School is central to the success of the Institute but it also serves as a “gateway” to deeper engagement through Internships, rather than as an end in itself. Students successfully completing the Field School have gained the skills necessary to be considered for appointments as Interns in one of the four Project Streams. Interns receive further mentoring to advance their personal and career goals in ways that align with critical social and ecological issues in the borderlands region, and as part of an approach that empowers them to be in service to their own communities in the future.
While participants are able to craft their own approaches to learning and contributing within the Institute, we organize our internship around four major Project Areas that provide multiple points of engagement: 1) Watershed Restoration; 2) Native Plant Materials; 3) Foodshed Restoration; and 4) Community & the Restoration Economy. The interns participate in all aspects of planning and implementation of related projects from design and grant writing to outreach activities to engage the Patagonia community.
#1 Watershed Restoration The Watershed Restoration Team designs restoration projects to test the effectiveness of various erosion control structures at recharging the local groundwater supply and preventing flash flooding. Interns learn to parameterize hydrological models and do field studies needed to evaluate the impact of different interventions (e.g., water harvesting, retention basins, and revegetation coupled to rotational grazing) on the water table decline and the likelihood of flooding in the town.
#2 Native Plant Materials The Native Plant Materials Team works in a variety of applications to promote ecosystem resilience, biodiversity, and human uses of native plants. Interns learn to collaborate with restoration practitioners to design projects that enhance watershed restoration efforts using native plants and seed to increase habitat connectivity and value. Interns have the opportunity to plug-in to strategic, regional efforts to restore biodiversity through seed collection, seed banking, and propagation activities. The team seeks to use material with locally adapted genetics to strengthen habitats, respond to national pollinator crises, and engage people in stewardship.