Leaving the Nest

By Gianna Destefani, Communications Intern
Hawk Mountain Sanctuary

Gianna posing in front of the Visitor Center.

Gianna posing in front of the Visitor Center.

Last week I had my last day as an intern at Hawk Mountain. For the past 12 weeks, I’ve gotten my hands dirty while helping the Sanctuary’s conservation mission, and by that I mean I have been writing and creating content to promote events, merchandise, and letting the public know about what’s happening on the Mountain.

Hawk Mountain is widely known for their amazing opportunities for education and environmental conservation students from all over the globe, but I’m here to share my experience from behind the scenes as a communication writing intern!

I was elated to get the news back in May that I had landed the internship. I have always had a love for nature and nonprofits, and public relations, and as a communication major at Kutztown University, this was the perfect opportunity to blend these loves while getting experience in my field.

I wasn’t sure what to expect on my first day, but all of my nerves were at ease once was in the office’s comfortable environment. The office at Hawk Mountain is surprisingly mostly women, all of whom are very smart, driven, and passionate about the mission of conservation, as are the men. I was welcomed with open arms, and worked alongside Hannah, a graphic design student from KU and we worked directly under Gigi Romano, communications specialist. Together, we created some great content for the Mountain’s website, newsletter, and social media.

Hannah Hornung and Gianna Destefani, Summer 2019 Communications Interns

Hannah Hornung and Gianna Destefani, Summer 2019 Communications Interns

While I knew I would gain some more communication skills, my time here has also given me more in-depth knowledge about the research that goes on at Hawk Mountain and the research that has spread worldwide that was inspired here. While writing articles, background pieces, and press releases, I absorbed so much new information that I would not even know about if I hadn’t worked here. From learning the dangers of lead bullets on the environment to learning how raptors are tagged and tracked all the way to South America, the pieces I have written for the Sanctuary definitely gave me a stronger understanding and newfound appreciation for the raptors that are being studied here.  

It also gave me insight on why so many of Hawk Mountain’s members and volunteers have stayed for such long periods of time. Being from Allentown, I have been visiting to hike the Mountain periodically throughout my life, but now I have a new lens to view not only the trails, but mountains anywhere. I have seen the love that people have for this place whether it be through interviewing volunteers, editing letters from the president, Sean Grace, or reading comments from dedicated visitors as well as editing articles by a conservationist from Argentina for the newsletter, Hawk Mountain News. The best part is, I see how the staff returns their gratitude for everyone through events and stewardship.

Working at Hawk Mountain has been an incredible experience, and I couldn’t be more thankful for it. After I graduate with my bachelor’s in May I hope to continue to work with nonprofits and continue doing my part to help spread awareness for whatever cause it may be. And remember; even though environmental science, research, and education is the focus on the Mountain, no one would know about it without strong communication.