ALPINE Summer Institute

The 2020 Summer Institute was held virtually this summer due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The program consisted of 7 sessions throughout June and July. Participants learned about 2 large landscape conservation efforts – one in central Massachusetts,  and a new, expanded Appalachian Trail project, and also participated in a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion training focused on those issues in land conservation. Participants had the opportunity to hear from leaders in these conservation efforts. Students presented on a conservation project of their choice in the last 2 sessions.

Applications for the 2021 Summer Institute will be available later this fall.


Summer Institute 2020

2020 Virtual Summer Institute Participants2020 Virtual Summer Institute ParticipantsDue to restrictions and limitations imposed by the Coronavirus epidemic, in the spring of 2020, the  ALPINE Summer Institute staff pivoted to “bridge the gap” — that is, to reformat the program so that it could be carried out without two face-to-face weekend seminars. The Institute was for the first time held virtually, over a series of seven Zoom sessions held over eight weeks beginning on June 10 and concluding on July 29. The five initial sessions dealt with different aspects of large landscape conservation, including one session focused on the issue of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the conservation field. The last 2 sessions were devoted to presentations on selected topics relevant to large landscape conservation by ALPINE Summer Institute participants. They were fortunate to have leading experts in the field share their expertise with them during the sessions, including David Foster, Leigh Youngblood, Bill Labich, Simon Rucker, and Karena Mahung.

We had twelve participants coming from institutions across New England including Smith College, Harvard University, Middlebury College, Greenfield Community College, University of Vermont, University of Massachusetts, and Unity College. Additionally, because the program was virtual this year, the Summer Institute expanded to include two participants from the University of Montana. Each of the Summer Institute participants had internships with or were employed for the summer by land conservation organizations. The participants came from a variety of backgrounds and levels of experience in land conservation; all of them wanted to learn more about the theory and practice of large landscape conservation and had a chance to think through, present, and write about a plan for a conservation initiative of interest to them. They were instructed to present on an “identified large landscape challenge” that is a tractable problem (a practical problem that appears to have a feasible solution) directly related to a particular large landscape. The projects should include the following questions: 

  • What is the challenge they are proposing to address and what is its significance in a larger context
  • Why this initiative is important, describing the qualitative and quantitative benefits and co-benefits, as well as the potential dis-benefits, of this initiative
  • Where this place/initiative takes place
  • Who initiated the project -  how homogenous, and how diverse is the team over the proposed life of the project
  • When and over what timeframe this strategy will be implemented
  • How this initiative is being organized, financed, governed, held accountable, managed, and stewarded, and what is the lasting impact of this initiative, does it have/will it have a lasting impact going forward?

The participant biographies can be seen here, and the final reports they produced can be explored here.


Summer Institute Program

The Summer Institute program is designed for students and young professionals to learn more about the theory and practice of large land conservation in the early twenty-first century. Staffed by experts in the field of land conservation from the Lincoln Institute, the Harvard Forest, Highstead and the Schoodic Institute, the ALPINE Summer Institute is also designed to encourage the students to consider how land conservation might become a significant focus of their professional careers and volunteer commitments over the course of their lives. The Summer Institute is an opportunity for students and young professionals to meet and network with leaders in the field, and think about what role they might play in the future of conservation. Accommodations and meals and program costs are free of charge to all participants.

The Summer Institute includes:

  • Two intensive weekends at the beginning and end of the summer
  • Presentations by leaders and practitioners in land conservation and in organizations such as the Harvard Forest, the International Land Conservation Network, the Maine Coast Heritage Trust, and the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy
  • Writing assignments and reflections
  • Leadership training exercises
  • Hikes and field trips to important land conservation projects in New England
  • Meals and accommodation for both weekends

The ALPINE Summer Institute is looking for undergraduates, graduate students, and young professionals with a wide variety of academic backgrounds and levels of experience, who are interested in learning more about conservation in New England and becoming a member of the next generation of land conservation leaders. Previous participants have come from a range of public and private colleges and universities, and applicants need not attend an institution in New England or be from the region. However, in order to apply for the Summer Institute, applicants must meet the following requirements:

  • Have a summer internship or job-related to land conservation in one of the six New England states and New York (Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island)
  • Be able to commit to two weekends for the Summer Institute
  •  Be able to provide their own transportation to and from the Summer Institute session locations

Learn more about Summer Institute 2019


Quotes from Summer Institute Participants

“The ALPINE Summer Institute inspired me to think critically and act intentionally in all aspects of my work in the conservation field. My participation reinforced my passion for conservation, and confirmed my decision to pursue a career in this work. I couldn’t imagine doing anything more meaningful.” – Shea Flanagan, Dartmouth College

Without the Summer Institute, I am not sure that I would have had the space or inspiration to articulate these ideas as clearly. The Summer Institute helped me articulate not only the fact that I care about land, but also the reasons why I care about land.” – Katie Michaels, Middlebury College

Through ALPINE, I have been able to make numerous connections in the field of land conservation that I would otherwise not have. I was also able to enhance my understanding of land conservation while being surrounded by similar peers.” – Matt Brewer, University of Maine

Between my studies at Middlebury College, my work at The Nature Conservancy, and my participation in the ALPINE Summer Institute, I have seen again and again how important it is to take a multi-disciplinary approach to conservation that focuses on creative and collaborative solutions based upon a place’s unique history, culture, socioeconomics, and particular environmental landscape.” – Caroline Colan, Middlebury College

I knew I wanted to get into conservation as a career before coming to the ALPINE program, but I think my ideas about what that really meant were vague. I now have a clearer picture of what conservationists are, and we are not all crazy people tied to trees, or research scientists trapped in labs.” – Amanda Bunce, University of Connecticut