Intern Aubrey Lanier describes his experience

Written by Aubrey Lanier. Editor’s note by Mike Lynch.

I am Aubrey Lanier, a senior in Forest Management at North Carolina State University. This summer I received an internship from the Forest Stewards Guild at Carolina Sandhills National Wildlife Refuge in South Carolina. Refuge and Forest Stewards Guild staff contacted me promptly after I had applied and conducted a phone interview. During my interview I explained my previous experience in wildlife work, specifically bird banding and quail surveying, and how I would like to pursue more forestry oriented work while still being able to encompass aspects of wildlife management. The location of the internship in the Sandhills region of South Carolina was fitting as I have always had an interest in longleaf pine ecology. Returning to my home state to work for the summer was an intriguing opportunity that I couldn’t pass up.

As a Forest Stewards Guild intern, I have gained valuable work experience in the field of forestry. Throughout the summer, myself and two fellow interns participated in a range of activities including forest inventory, bird banding, quail call surveys, and tree felling. Cruising timber has taught me to look at the forest from a management perspective, focusing on improving wildlife habitat. I enjoyed working in this area as the longleaf pine savannas are a diminished but highly important ecosystem of the sandhills region in the southeast. Bird banding and quail call surveys offered a glimpse into the end goal of forest management on the refuge. The refuge is home to popular game birds such as the mourning dove and bobwhite quail, and threatened species including the red cockaded woodpecker. Periodic forest inventory and analysis helps refuge staff make management decisions to improve habitat for these birds as well as other wildlife species including white-tailed deer and wild turkey. Near the end of my internship, we were able to complete a beginner level chainsaw course where we were taught how to safely fell and buck trees. This fall, I will be returning to school for my senior year with valuable skills and knowledge that will be beneficial for my future career in forest management.

Whether it be in the public or private sector of forestry, I would like to continue working in a similar field that encompasses forest inventory. I also have a vested interest in fire management and would like to maintain my qualifications to participate in prescribed burn operations throughout my career. This internship has deepened my interest in forest inventory where my newfound skills can help me pursue different career paths in forestry including forest consulting, fire management, and wildlife management. The Forest Stewards Guild has granted me the opportunity to work with professionals in my field of interest and gain exceptional experience that will help me in whichever path I may follow after college.

Editor’s note: The Forest Stewards Guild has partnered with the US Fish and Wildlife Service for the last several years to provide students with hands-on experiences to learn how forestry and wildlife management work together on public lands. These 12-week positions are hired by the Guild and supervised and based at the Carolina Sandhills National Wildlife Refuge in McBee, South Carolina.  
Coulter Nyenhuis and Aubrey Lanier were selected from a strong pool of applicants for these positions and both interns did a wonderful job. Coulter’s feature article was in September’s e-newsletter, so look back if you missed it! We wish them both all the best as they complete their education and enter the work force.  
We will be offering this 12-week summer internship again in 2022. Be on the lookout for a posting next spring at Pease also check this page for other opportunities with the Guild and our terrific partners. If you would like to help recruit well-deserving and potentially interested students, or if you would like to apply yourself and have questions, please contact Mike Lynch at or 608-449-0647.