A Summer With CCALT – Written By Jon Byerly And Hannah Oakes

Summer 2016 was a whirlwind. Luckily for CCALT, we had two extra sets of hands to help us navigate our busiest season. As part of their education course work, Jon Byerly from Colorado State University, and Hannah Oakes from the University of Colorado Law School both interned at CCALT for the summer. You may have seen them at events and meetings, or prominently featured on our social media posts. Both Jon and Hannah were a pleasure to work with and the entire CCALT staff will miss seeing them around the office and out in the field. Below, Hannah and Jon each share a glimpse about their time at CCALT and how it impacted them. 

Jon Byerly
When I received a summer internship with CCALT, I didn’t know what to expect.  I had never worked for a nonprofit, had no experience working for a land trust, and had only a rudimentary understanding of what conservation easements were all about.  My strategy was to make like a sponge and absorb everything I could.  In my first week I learned that a conservation easement is a powerful tool with a wide array of potential benefits.  I also discovered that the learning curve was steep, and I was going to have to hustle to keep up.

 So hustle I did.  I hustled all over the state, usually with Megan there to coach me, sometimes on my own.  I knew from the job description that I would be monitoring existing easements, so I wasn’t surprised when that’s how I spent most of my summer.  What was surprising were the other opportunities that came up along the way.  

One of these opportunities that sticks out to me was the chance to attend the Water Task Force meeting, in which a board of lawyers, professors, landowners and other experts was assembled by CCALT in order to anticipate future water issues as they relate to conservation easements.  There is no shortage of water issues in Colorado, and being a fly on the wall during this discussion was fascinating. During this meeting I felt that CCALT was going above and beyond in its capacity as a land trust, and I was proud to be a part of this organization, if only for the summer. 

Hannah Oakes
My summer fellowship experience at CCALT was very different from those of my law school friends–in the best kind of way.  At happy hours and during hikes this summer, my law school friends and I would share experiences from our work.  My friends shared stories of long hours, manipulative contract negotiation deals, stories about how they never met their boss or their clients and rarely looked up from their computers … 

It was a little awkward when I would come to happy hour and tell them about how I toured a ranch on a 4×4 that morning.  I would send my law school friends photos of my view from a 4-seater plane, flying over the state of Colorado to monitor conservation easements.  Once I asked them how they would interpret dressing in the style of “Country Chicken” for the CCALT BBQ.   I remember telling them how amazing it was to meet with landowners in Saguache and use my new legal skills help them navigate the complex groundwater rules.  I shared how exciting it was to meet and work with Justice Hobbs in the Water Task Force meeting, who wrote many of the Colorado Supreme Court opinions that I used in my research. And on top of all of this exciting work, it was fulfilling to know that I was contributing to conservation and the preservation of Colorado’s rural agricultural economies.

 If there is one thing I learned this summer, it was that legal work can be fun and incredibly rewarding. 

 Good luck on your future endeavors Hannah and Jon, thanks for being a part of our team!