"My internship at the Latvian Fund for Nature is coming to an end, and I must say I’m really satisfied and happy with my initial choice to apply to this internship position because my experience here, at the LDF, has been great and enlightening.
First of all, the hosting organization couldn’t be more welcoming and careful of mine and my intern colleagues needs, with our mentor Lita who has taken care of us for the whole period of mobility, has found a cozy flat in the very city centre of Riga, and has organized a two-days trip once a month to visit Latvia’s most characteristic places and experience Latvian traditions all together. Moreover, I appreciated that a video call with Inga, the GrassLIFE project manager, was organized the first day of the internship, because in this way we got the possibility to understand the contextual framework of the project, its actions and implementation phases, and how LIFE funding works. Then, I met my supervisor Solvita, professor at the University of Latvia. I’m really grateful to her because she introduced and assisted me to both the parts of the internship with a lot of patience and carefulness: the first part during May that was office-based, and the second one in June and July out in the field. She has an infinite passion and knowledge of semi-natural grasslands dynamics and processes, and working with her has been inspiring and highly formative.
Another fact that I appreciate most of this mobility is that, thanks to Solvita and how the internship has been conceived by LDF, it has given me the opportunity to develop a quite deep understanding of semi-natural grassland habitats and their ecological, cultural and economic importance in the Latvian context. I’ve learnt about different restoration techniques, their implementation and possibilities of success/failure. In addition, I’ve now enough confidence with many plant species that occur in Latvian meadows and I feel my botanical identification skills have improved a lot. It has also been interesting to see how scientific purposes of restoration projects must interact with local stakeholders, how much important is to take in consideration the farmers necessities and the case-by-case of real-estate management of semi-natural grasslands. I’ve realized how ecological aims interfere and interplay with cultural and economic values, and how the actual implementation and success of the restoration goals depends on the willingness and interest of all the parts involved in the project.
Another great aspect of this internship is that the farms which the GrassLIFE project works with are located in different parts of Latvia, and so I travelled a lot during the mobility and came to know the different cultural identities of the various regions/areas of this country. Plus, I worked in many meadows, each of them beautiful, colourful and scented in their own way, often with a river or a lake close by to have a swim after a hot sunny day in the field. Last but not least, working and living with other interns played a big role in the overall feeling of this experience because we got the chance to share our knowledge, feelings and emotions and stimulate each other. During this time, we’ve developed deep and strong friendships that I’m sure will last long.
Canoeing on the Abava river
Joy after a Pirts experience
Intern group trip to Cēsis
In conclusion, this internship has been a 360° experience and I’m thankful to everyone who made it special. I feel enriched of knowledge and motivation to carry on with the studies on ecology, and possibly one day I’ll be working for a similar project in a NGO committed to nature conservation and protection like LDF is." - Martina Marei Viti, Italy