“We felt like explorers in a tropical, other world,” says Reena Ramos, former land management intern and Goshen College student (right) of her experience in Spring Lake Woods and Bog with fellow intern Dustin Chafin, a Manchester University student (center).

Thanks to internship support from the Olive B. Cole Foundation, Reena and Dustin shadowed botanist Scott Namestnik (left), as he inventoried plants on a hot, humid late May day.

“It was really cool to see him work. And really hard to keep up. We were jumping over patches of muck, pushing through leaves, trying not to fall over.” Deep in the bog, plant life is sensitive, ground is not solid enough for trails, and mosquitoes cannot be repelled. The bog smells like rotten eggs and is surrounded by poison sumac. Foot traffic is not welcome.

“Scott carried a notebook, would spot a seemingly hidden plant, jot down its scientific and common names, then move on in seconds. Hundreds of times, without hesitation.”

“Dustin and I were in awe — and exhausted. The place is awesome and the work is amazing. It’s incredible to be able to help ACRES identify the plants, to help protect these wild places and share the story with the members who protect them. I don’t want to go back, but I’m so grateful for the experience. I love knowing it’s there.”

– Reena Ramos, ACRES member and former land management intern