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Main Street Tire

Standing out from a forest of applicants

Tantasqua students hone environmental skills

Chris Spinney, left, a senior at Tantasqua Regional High School is seen working with his internship manager Erin Jacque in her office on Friday, Dec. 10. She is a conservation agent with the Sturbridge Conservation Commission. Kevin Flanders. (click for larger version)
December 13, 2010
STURBRIDGE — Jobs in almost every industry are at a premium in this tenuous economic climate, which means only the most experienced and capable candidates will be selected to fill open positions. The competition for these openings is heating up, and students are looking to gain as many skills as possible in their fields of interest before testing the job market.

Tantasqua Regional High School seniors Christopher Spinney of Sturbridge and Curtis Markham of Wales are in the process of gaining an early advantage over perhaps less motivated peers. Spinney and Markham have been interning with the Sturbridge Conservation Commission since September, acquiring valuable skills and knowledge that will benefit them before they even enter a college classroom.

"My plan is to have a career in conservation or wildlife ecology, and my internship with the Conservation Commission has really helped me learn a lot about this field," Spinney said.

Both Spinney and Markham applied to the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and they will find out if they were accepted to the university in January. Meanwhile, they have been very busy with tasks assigned by their supervisor, Erin Jacque, an agent with the Conservation Commission.

"Working with Chris and Curtis has been a lot of fun," Jacque said. "Teaching them new things helps me brush up on my skills, and it is really important for us to keep supporting the Tantasqua outreach programs, which help students get out into the community and learn through hands-on activities."

Spinney and Markham typically work in the Conservation Commission office for one hour on schooldays, and they have engaged in a vast array of outdoor activities as well. On some days, they focus on updating the commission's geographical information system (GIS) by creating maps and inputting information, while other days are spent going into the field and identifying various plants and trees. In addition, they have each dedicated many hours to typing up summaries of their findings and digitizing forest planning maps.

For more on this story, please see tomorrow's Southbridge Evening News.

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