Brendan DeCoff, ’22, B.S Biology, is a recent graduate of the Conservation Steward program. Niagara University’s affiliation with the Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation provided DeCoff with the resources necessary to be considered a strong candidate for the Conservation Steward internship. Niagara’s connection was just the start, but through the Office of Career Services helped DeCoff prepare for the application and interviewing process.
“They helped me by providing feedback on my application materials and by preparing me for upcoming interviews,” said DeCoff.
Friends of Recreation, Conservation, and Environmental Stewardship (FORCES) offers a voluntary internship program through New York State Parks each year. The mission of FORCES is to engage New York State college students to simultaneously improve the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation resources and enrich student academic, recreational, and career opportunities. Conservation Stewards help assist with ongoing environmental projects throughout the region which involve tasks such as surveying, mapping, and removal of invasive species. Conservation Stewards perform various duties such as planting native species for restoration, forest health evaluations regarding invasive species, general conservation efforts, and much more.
DeCoff worked within the Niagara Region, but also visited many of the state parks throughout Western New York to contribute on conservation projects to control invasive species and restore native ecosystems. During his internship he learned a tremendous amount about native and invasive plants, how to identify them, and how to treat impacted areas. “My advice for future students is to take advantage of these opportunities presented to you,” said DeCoff.
The Niagara University Mission focuses on the importance of service. Opportunities such as this one encompasses that mission of service by showcasing student learning from inside Niagara classrooms and then applying those learnings back into Niagara Region and other communities to make it a better place. In addition, the Conservation Steward opportunity allows for students to gain real world experiences, continue to excel in their studies, gain resume experience, and network within the various departments of New York State Parks.