My Summer in Newfoundland

July 31, 2014
Dylan Larson-Konar


My summer internship with the Quebec Labrador Foundation was a literal and figurative journey. QLF is a conservation and environmental nonprofit based in Massachusetts. It has a longstanding relationship with Princeton Internships in the Civic Service (PICS), which offers hundreds of internships to Princeton undergraduates in fields ranging from medicine to fine art.

Our team consisted of interns, volunteers and staff, and when we weren’t goofing off or making fun of each other, we were helping with some legitimate conservation work. 

Our work in Southern Newfoundland centered on surveying and protecting the Piping Plover. Spanning the North Atlantic Shore, this conservation effort is reacting to serious threats faced by the threatened species. Foxes, quads and unleashed dogs disturb and, at times, destroy Plover nesting sights, resulting in a recent decrease in breeding pairs and fledglings. In addition to cataloging the Piping Plovers, our team placed more than 30 signs across the Codroy Valley. These signs asked beach users to respect Plover nesting sights.

After a few weeks with the Plovers, our team traveled north to Main Brook—a small town nestled in the crooks of Hare Bay. We had multiple responsibilities here, the most demanding of which was creating more than 50 Eider Duck nest shelters. Armed with hammers, nails and boards, our team boated to nearby islands to construct the shelters. This summer, the Eider Ducks faced an unlikely menace, Bald Eagles. We hope that our work with the shelters can restore Eider Duck colonies to their previous standing.

Perhaps our most exciting and longstanding project of the summer was writing and filming an educational film: "The Spirit of Newfoundland and Labrador Fishing Communities." The film focuses on three separate but related aspects. First, we attempted to chronicle the rise and fall of the inshore fisheries. A small team collected hundreds of hours of interview footage from local fishermen. Second, the film focuses on local music. To capture this, our team helped organize several memorable events across the province. We also featured the brilliant work of local musicians and songwriters. And third, the film highlights the communities of Newfoundland and Labrador. From local crafting experts to the CEO of the Labrador Shrimp Company, our team set out to explore the lifeblood of these humble but extraordinary towns.

This summer centered on the question of stewardship. Must we preserve that which is dying, and if so, then how? I am no closer to a concrete answer, but I’m beginning to understand just how important questions like these will be in our near future.