Ecological Restoration with The Trail Foundation

Written by John Scott

This Summer, I’ve had to pleasure of working for The Trail Foundation as their Ecological Restoration Intern around the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail. The Ann and Roy Hike and Bike Trail is located in the heart of Austin, running across a ten-mile stretch of The Colorado River. With multiple loops, trail users can go different distances depending on how much they would push themselves. Because of this unique shared space between and nature and community, the trails sees upward of 4.9 million users. The Trail Foundation aims to protect, enhance, and connect the Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail at Lady Bird Lake for the benefit of all. By having these core values, The Trail Foundation provides a wonderful workplace environment and a fantastic space for the Austin community to spend time together, relax, play games, and enjoy nature!

Due to the shape of the organization, I was able to explore community engagement as well as ecological restoration work. Because of that, a  large part of my time was spent increasing stewardship amongst kids and community members. We partner with the Mendez and Camacho Activity Centers through our Kids Adopt a Garden program. During these programs, we would teach kids horticulture practices, soil science, cross-pollination, natural selection, and much more! We tried to make these lessons as interactive as possible, at the end of the day, if kids have fun while learning, they’ll be more invested in the content. We believe teaching them about nature, gardening, and enjoying the outdoors is a great way to increase stewardship, preparing the next generation for time outside and careers!

In addition to my time at the Kids Adopt a Garden, we had volunteer opportunities and programming with community members and other organizations. With companies, we would do Days in the Dirt, which would involve ecological work. It was great to see corporations reaching out to the Austin community. In continuation, we would heavily rely on volunteers to aid us. Together we would provide trees with mulch due to extreme heat, help soil and water plants, and pick up trash on the trail. This was also an excellent opportunity to network and get to know community members! And lastly, we would partner with many Young Men’s Service League to carrier out tasks.

Perhaps one of my favorite days of this internship was Lady Bird Johnson Day, when we went to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. We tabled with different organizations and groups to celebrate Lady Bird Johnson. During this event, we did a pollination activity with kids and had some questions to ask older kids for a chance to win candy. We saw around 150 people come up to our booth, which was the most successful tabling I’ve been a part of!



Other than that, I spent my days working and monitoring trail maintenance sites and projects. I spent quite a few days out on the lake working on our floating wetlands. And other days, I would ride bikes around the trail and take pictures of anything that needed to be fixed or could be a potential issue.

Overall I enjoyed my time at The Trail Foundation, I had the opportunity to work with some great people and meet many others. Since I did a fairly decent job as an intern, they’ve offered me a part-time position during the school year! So if you have any questions or want to intern with The Trail Foundation, please reach out… You can email me at jscott11@stedwards.edu

Thank you for reading and to The Trail Foundation for this opportunity!


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