Turning Lemons into Lemonade

Local College Students Spend Summer with Land Trust After COVID-19 Upends Plans

Like countless college students across the country, Avery York and Eliza Pohle received last-minute news that their 2020 summer jobs were canceled. Left without summer plans, they were among dozens of local college students who reached out to the New Canaan Land Trust, hoping to make the most of a seemingly lost summer.

Thanks to an outpouring of support from attendees at our 2020 Summer Sculpture Soirée, coupled with generous grants from the Jeniam Foundation and New Canaan Community Foundation, the Land Trust created two seasonal internships to address this youth unemployment crisis.

These internships built on the Land Trust’s annual high school internship program to create rewarding summer experiences for local students. In turn, our interns, Avery and Eliza, helped complete several meaningful projects that benefited the Land Trust and our community.


Avery, a lifetime resident of Norwalk and an Environment and Sustainability Studies major at Wake Forest University, jumped into the role of Historian. She helped digitize and catalog more than 50 years’ worth of historical photographs, newspaper articles, and other archives, culminating in a digital presentation on the history of the Land Trust.

“I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to learn about and document the history of the New Canaan Land Trust. So many people have worked so hard to conserve Land in New Canaan.” -Avery York

Avery also conducted research at the New Canaan Historical Society about indigenous and colonial uses of the Land Trust properties. Before her work with the Land Trust, there was no documented record of the indigenous people who inhabited today’s Land Trust properties.

Thanks to your support, we now have a better understanding of our history and will be working to incorporate that knowledge into future programs and publications.


Eliza, a New Canaan native and an Environmental Policy and Spanish double major at Colby College, filled the Land Steward position. In that role, she brought her skills as a backcountry trips leader to help the Summer Steward Interns complete trail maintenance and habitat restoration projects.

Eliza also had the unique opportunity to visit many of the Land Trust’s lesser-known preserves. During the process, she learned how the Land Trust inspects all of its preserves annually.

“It was eye-opening to learn about Land Trust accreditation and the various ways that the New Canaan Land Trust ensures that its properties are protected now and into the future,” said Eliza. “It’s comforting to know that once land is conserved by the Land Trust, it really is protected forever.”