I’ve spent the last two weeks of my internship frantically trying to wrap up my different projects (with this blog post being the last of them).
The summer is wrapping up as GCS begins the 2018-19 school year on Wednesday, and with it so wraps up my summer internship. There are only two weeks left and yet it feels like there is so much left to do!
I still have to make significant edits to my long term management plan before submitting it to the different parks departments, I want to begin composing a Spanish translation for the Friends website, I need to write an official thesis proposal for my school (Amherst College), I need to contact the parties who funded my summer here and thank them for making this opportunity economically feasible, I need to prepare a final presentation on my work for the Friends’ board, and I need to take time to stop and smell the roses.
Obviously not the multiflora roses though because those are invasive.
This summer has been so full of new experiences — namely living at home for the first time since I left for college in 2015. I’ve done a lot of work from The Brew, JoJo’s Pretzels, and my bed (from which I write this post right now). I am doing work for a job that I never would have imagined myself having (and even less, enjoying) in places that I grew up in. I applied to colleges in these places, imagining myself majoring in Flute Performance, maybe a minor in Spanish or Political Science, definitely playing in my college marching band.
I find myself back in my favorite spots for getting work done going into my senior year of college as an Environmental Studies major who plays on the rugby team and has not touched her flute in over a year.
I’ve spent a lot of time this summer thinking about how different I am from who I thought I would be, but living in Goshen again has made me realize that some things never change. I still love a straight forward original pretzel, prefer maple frosted cinnamon rolls over vanilla, and will fall asleep working in my bed 100% of the time.
The beauty of interning for the Friends this summer has been getting to watch this new version of myself interact with places and people of my past. So many things can change, but I can always count on the tornado siren going off at 2pm on Thursday. I know every person I walk/bike/run past will smile, nod, and say hi no matter what. And I know that this place will always feel like home.
So this post is less about the specifics of my work on the trail this summer (in short: hot, mosquitos, poison ivy, meetings, technology, writing, research, emails), and instead it is about how much I appreciate having the opportunity to be here for one last summer and give back to the community that has given me so much.
This feels like a farewell post, but as the title of this blog post suggests — I still have two more weeks! So keep your eyes peeled for a farewell post that is much less about me, and much more about the final products of all the work I’ve done this summer and where I see nature management headed for the Pumpkinvine in the years to come!
So what have I been up to this summer?
Poison ivy and culverts have nothing in common except that I had to deal with both in the last two weeks.
I’ll answer your first question right away: a culvert is a structure used for crossings generally under 12 feet instead of constructing a bridge. In practice a culvert basically looks like a huge pipe that allows running water to continue along it’s natural path. The Pumpkinvine has one such culvert in Shipshewana, for crossing Mather’s Ditch, which collapsed a few weeks ago after years of erosion caused by heavy rain.
I have gotten poison ivy twice in the past two weeks and I am scratching the rash on my arms as I type this post. Here’s the thing though, poison ivy is meant to be here. Culverts are not.
Poison ivy is a nuisance to humans, and it is generally acceptable to remove this plant despite it’s role in the local ecosystem as bird food. Culverts are not naturally occurring, but people utilize them to make nature more human friendly.
So if the Pumpkinvine is a nature trail, what is the efficacy of manipulating the environment in the name of human enjoyment and not ecosystem restoration?
I don’t have a good answer for this. The town of Shipshewana had to spend around $12,000 to install a new, more resilient, culvert. We changed nature to better suit our needs.
So shouldn’t we reciprocate?
Hey Pumpkinvine Blog!
My name is Isabela Torres, and I am interning with the Friends of the Pumpkinvine this summer. I was raised in Goshen and graduated from GHS in 2015. I’ve been attending Amherst College in Massachusetts where I’ve majored in Environmental Studies. I’m excited to get to learn about the ecology of Northern Indiana and the opportunity to use that knowledge to contribute to the management and future success of the nature surrounding the trail.
I will be doing a variety of things with the Friends this summer, and you will probably see me out on the trail, posting on the Facebook page, or volunteering at the annual bike ride (for which registration is still open!). I’m super interested in learning more about the history and politics of the trail, along with how management styles have changed as the parks departments became more involved over time.
In summary: I’ll try to contribute to this blog consistently throughout the summer for anyone interested in seeing what I’ve been up to. Thanks for reading!
PS. Here is what I look like so if you see me digging up plants along the trail you’ll know I’m supposed to be doing that — if you see me around in Goshen (or at Los Primos where I work in the evenings) feel free to stop me and say hi!
The Community Foundation of Elkhart County recently awarded a $250,000 grant for trail construction in the "gap"Roads 20 and 35. Friends own 0.43 mile of the former Pumpkin Vine Railroad corridor in this section (solid green line on the map); however, they need 600 feet of additional land (dashed green line on the map) to reach County Road 35 where the existing trail (orange line)from Middlebury ends. Friends are negotiating with neighbors to purchase the needed land.
Friends have been working for several years to build trail between County Roads 33 and 20 (yellow line). They recently bought land for that purpose and construction is expected in 2018.