Reflections on a Rewarding and Fun-filled Year 

As Andover High School graduation quickly approaches and my Environmental Sustainability Internship Course (ESIC) comes to an end, so does my role as the ESIC blogger. ESIC is a class that takes a special approach to experiential learning, run by Ms. Cutler. Ms. Cutler spends a tremendous amount of time working to give every student an internship that fits each student’s interests, skills, and work ethics. At the beginning of this course, Ms. Cutler puts in the effort to match each student in the class with an adult community mentor in order to complete this internship opportunity. I was lucky enough to be the only student in my class to receive two mentors, Lynn Landry and Amy Janovsky. I’m so grateful for these past 9 months with both Amy and Lynn. They have opened my eyes to the beauty of our AVIS properties, while also teaching me about different invasive species, and various aspects of our environment. Most importantly, these two women taught me life skills that I will take on with me throughout my future. I have loved being able to share my insights of various AVIS properties and encourage readers to get out and explore all that AVIS has to offer. 

Here are some highlights from the year.

My goal to prioritize accessibility 

With so many ways to engage with nature in Andover, I wanted to help people of all ages, abilities and physical conditions determine which local trails are a good fit. I focused on learning more about trail accessibility, creating a starter checklist to help people enjoy the AVIS properties safely. 

My research was also done with a goal of creating a memorable end-of-year field trip for a special education class at Andover High School. I took time to explore many different reservations in search for a trail that would be suitable for all 9 students, ultimately determining that the Peggy Keck reservation would be best. Many weeks of planning were done in order to make this happen. After finding the right trail, we had to figure out the logistics. This included things such as transportation for the field trip, timing, and what each student needed in order to have a fun, and successful walk.  After completing those tasks we were ready to set off! 

On Friday, May 10th, the class and I hit the road to the Peggy Keck Reservation. I was originally nervous knowing that many of these students weren’t used to an experience like this. However, all nerves went away when we got on the bus and I couldn’t hear over the voices of all 9 students talking about how excited they were. When we arrived, the students came off the bus with pep in their step, beyond excited to get started. It was amazing to hear the excitement in their voices, and see the smiles on their faces throughout our entire walk. We walked about a mile, although we took it slowly, it gave us time to truly appreciate the beauty of nature. We handed the kids different tokens that pictured items such as plants, flowers, and bugs, to give them an active learning experience during the walk. 

Throughout the duration of the walk the students asked numerous questions and got to locate the items on their tokens. My mentors, Amy and Lynn, were an extreme help throughout this walk as they taught the kids about different plants, moss, and birds they were hearing. By the time we reached the end of the trail, all 9 students were asking me when we could do it again! I felt so blessed to have such a positive experience during our field trip. And I know the kids felt that way too because I received 9 handwritten thank you cards delivered to me! 

Classmates’ contributions make an impact

As part of ESIC, it’s been rewarding to see my classmates take part in other environmental initiatives and make a difference in a variety of ways. For example, one of my fellow students created a Climate Justice Education Resource Guide for middle school students interested in environmental justice and sustainability. She was inspired to do this by the lack of knowledge younger students had about our environment. This guide was designed to help Andover Public School teachers better support students during the required eighth grade civic action project. How amazing!

Opportunities await all year round 

While many think of summer as the ideal time to walk and hike, my position as the ESIC blogger encouraged me to take advantage of the AVIS trails during the fall, winter and spring seasons. One activity that is great any time of the year is geocaching. If you missed it, check out my previous blog for tips on how to start and where to go: A Winter Treasure Hunt Awaits  – Ambling the AVIS Reservations (

There are also many opportunities to help preserve the natural beauty of the properties by lending a hand to removing invasive plants, whether on your own working to stop the spread of garlic mustard Garlic Mustard 101 ( or with a guided, organized group to learn about other invasive plants. AVIS regularly leads Plant Identification and Removal Sessions on Saturdays throughout the year. Tune in to the AVIS events calendar  to see future dates for removal sessions and learn more about upcoming nature walks and other events.

Thanks to my mentors and my amazing teacher, Ms. Cutler for an incredible ESIC experience. I can’t wait to see how the AHS students make a difference next year. 

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