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Summer internship a dream for outdoor enthusiasts

A student summer-job position has perks sure to get an outdoor enthusiast’s attention, including $2,000 worth of top-quality outdoor gear, a $2,500 stipend and expenses-paid backcountry trips in multiple states.

The Sierra Club is billing its summer youth ambassador job as the best student internship on the planet.

Last year’s intern says that’s not overstated.

“I saw so many places I always wanted to see and did so many new things it’s hard to pick a highlight,” said Evan Geary, 23, a graduate of New York University in film.

His three months of outdoor experiences spanned five states and included river rafting in California, backpacking in the Wind River Range of Wyoming and working with underprivileged kids on Bainbridge Island in Puget Sound.

“My grandpa is a 46er – someone who’s climbed all the Adirondack Peaks,” said Geary, a New York native. “He introduced me to the outdoors, but I never got super experienced because of where I lived.”

Geary’s interest in biology and the environment, his zest for plunging into outdoor experiences and the skills he had in capturing the action on video made him a perfect candidate for the position, said Orli Cotel, the Sierra Club’s deputy communications director in San Francisco.

The youth ambassador, who must be at least 18 and a student or recent high school or college graduate, is based at the San Francisco headquarters and travels to join organized Sierra Club groups and post video blogs about their experiences.

The groups include Inner City Outings that introduce urban kids to the outdoors and adult-geared volunteer vacations in which people backpack into glorious parks or wilderness areas to maintain trails or tackle other projects.

The intern should have a love of the outdoors and the knack for communicating that enthusiasm to others, Cotel said.

Sierra Club Productions equips the intern with video gear. Editing abilities are a plus, Cotel said, but the most important requirements are a good eye for a story and a gift for interviewing people who are passionate about the outdoors.

Geary said he enjoyed meeting a wide variety of people through the common bond of outdoor experiences.

But he said the most memorable single moment was the evening he found himself alone on the edge of a marshy area during a volunteer vacations trip in Yosemite National Park.

“The wind died, and I could see a dark cloud of mosquitoes rising up and coming at me – the only piece of flesh and blood in the area,” he said.

“I remember slapping at them for a few seconds before looking up and seeing a couple of bats coming out of trees to eat the mosquitoes.

“I stood still, and the bats came closer, and more bats came. Pretty soon there were 30-40 bats flying all around me. I’d hold out my arm to attract a mosquito and before it could land a bat would swoop into to eat it.

“I moment like that will make an impression on anybody, especially me.”