Despite Pandemic, WTF Interns Pursue Projects

The usual hum of activity at Wakeman Town Farm has been curtailed by COVID-19.

Classes, visits, parties — all are on hold. So was Staples High School’s internship program, which usually supplies a number of seniors each spring to work on the farm.

When school closed in mid-March, intern coordinators Michelle Howard and Denise Pearl redesigned the program. Most activities took place off-site.

Yesterday, a small group of WTF committee members recognized the work of their interns for rising to the challenge, and going “above and beyond” on their projects. Each received a WTF cap, and shared the results of their work.

Jessica Plotkin worked with animal chair Anne Burmeister to create something on WTF’s wish list for years: permanent, engaging informational signage about the animals.

Jessica Plotkin

After surveying zoos and other animal facilities, researching all 7 species of animals at the farm and interviewing WTF honeybee keeper Jaime Smith, Jessica created a unique design. Her signs provide interesting, fun information about each animal’s origin, diet, anatomy and role on the farm.

She also took photos for social media posts about the animals and her research.

Jessica’s bee signage.

Tallula Goldberg and Ben Spector, guided by gardens chair Alice Ely, researched Westport’s worst weeds. As part of their work they removed bags of invasives at the Lillian Wadsworth Arboretum and Earthplace, and surveyed invasives at other open spaces around town.

They created a handbook for Westport’s homeowners, including how to spot and remove the worst offenders on their properties (click here to download). It includes Tallula’s original illustrations.

Ben Spector and Tallula Goldberg.

Their guide will be featured in a WTF talk on Monday, July 6 (7 p.m.) Check here soon for details.

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