Our Interns



Howdy friends! My name is Aylish Flahaven and I am one of the Naturalist Interns. I grew up in Southeastern Pennsylvania with chickens, bees, cats, and a love of all living things. I majored in Environmental Studies and minored in Education from Skidmore College last year, and have been living in Troy since August. At Skidmore, I served as their North Woods Steward doing trail construction and drafting their land management plan. I also spent a summer as a camp counselor at an environmental education center which cemented my passion for environmental education. I am super interested in mycology, composting, and cute small animals! I also work with FoodScraps360, the Capital District’s curbside compost pickup company, doing outreach and sales. In my free time I enjoy crafting, thrifting, and hiking. I am so excited to teach and learn environmental topics here at Five Rivers, and I can’t wait to meet you all at the center!


Hello! My name is Gabrielle and I am a naturalist intern here at Five Rivers. I am from Rochester, New York and as a child I loved exploring the natural environment western New York had to offer. One of My favorite spots is Letchworth State Park, which played a major role in developing my love for the natural world. I graduated from University of Rochester with a double major in Geology and Studio Arts in spring of 2022. As an undergraduate, I had the opportunity to study structural geology in Bozeman, Montana, where my desire to work outdoors and share my love of all things geology with like-minded individuals blossomed. I also became a teaching assistant for my advisor’s Structural Geology class my senior year. I loved the experience so much I decided to pursue science education post-graduation. Last summer, I worked as a teaching assistant for Rochester Museum and Science Centers summer camps. I loved working in the museum’s nontraditional classroom setting so when I found Five Rivers had an opening, I had to apply. When I’m not outside you can find me crocheting and sketching in my sketchbook. I am excited grow as an environmental educator here at Five Rivers and learn with my fellow interns!



Hi all! I am Isabelle Keefe. I grew up in a suburb of Philadelphia, but I spent the last four years up here in New York. Growing up, I was a kid you could always find barefoot in a mud puddle and climbing trees. My family goes camping yearly and as a Girl Scout, my love for the outdoors grew. I was drawn up north by the picturesque Lake Ontario, where I studied Zoology at SUNY Oswego. While at school I was part of the Outdoors Club, an herbarium intern, and a teaching assistant for the entomology class. Insects truly piqued my interest, yes, I know they can be creepy and crawly, but they play an integral part in our ecosystem. This past summer, I worked for the SCA as a Pennsylvania Outdoor Corps Youth Crew Leader where I lead a group of high schoolers through land conservation projects. After talking to the environmental educators at each state part my crew and I worked at I found I wanted to go into the environmental education field. So here I am now at the beautiful and wildlife abundant, Five Rivers where I get to educate the public and care for our wonderful ambassador animals.


Hi friends! My name is Hayden Kessinger. I was born and raised playing outside and eating dirt (thanks to the encouragement of my older sister) on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. However, my interest in this work did not blossom like most people you find working or interning at an environmental education center. Of course, I am endlessly curious about the environment, and a passionate advocate for conservation and sustainability but I lack formal experience or education in environmental sciences or education. Instead, I studied human science and graduated from the University of Maryland with a BS in Kinesiology in the Spring of 2023; a week later, alongside ten strangers, I began pedaling away from Baltimore, MD, headed for San Francisco, CA. We fundraised for the Ulman Foundation, a cancer nonprofit, and rode our bikes across the country, spreading the message that no young adult should face cancer alone. After our arrival, I stayed in California for a while, exploring my options to have the impact I desire while thinking hard about how I want to have that impact. I knew I wanted to have a service-oriented life and career, but I was caught up in all the different areas of service I could pursue. Then, when a friend of a friend advised me to think about what I loved doing when I was five and pursue service related to that, I teared up. I remembered following frogs in the backyard with my sister and cleaning mud off our entire bodies with the hose (then taking a few gulps from it). I felt the overflowing joy that came from jumping in a freshly raked pile of leaves at my grandmother’s house. I smelled the trees and fields that surrounded my home. I always knew environmental/outdoor education was important, but at the end of this phone call, I realized that I needed to share my love of nature with young minds to offer them experiences like I had. I am very excited to continue learning and growing while playing outside with my new colleagues and students as an Environmental Educator through the SCA.


Hi there! I am Emma Parker from Slingerlands, NY (so right around the corner)! I grew up going to Five Rivers and have had a love and passion for nature and the outdoors for as long as I can remember. This place is where I found a love for ferns and hemlocks and just exploring my curiosity in nature. I grew up going to DEC camp and knew I wanted to get a job within the realm of environmental conservation “when I grew up” (in quotations because we are all kids at heart). I recently graduated from SUNY Geneseo with a degree in Biology and double minors in Math and Sustainability Studies.  At Geneseo, I was a student intern for the office of sustainability and a member of the arboretum committee. I also was president of the beekeeping club and have a love for pollinators and native plants! I found a love for hiking and camping because I grew up between the Adirondacks and Catskills, and my parents cherish spending time in nature too. This past summer, I was a part of an SCA trail crew in Washington state and learned a lot about trail building and loved living out of a tent in the back country. That led me to want to find another SCA position and here I am! The perfect combination of SCA and DEC. I really look forward to my time interning at Five Rivers and fueling my passions even more.


DEC’s environmental education centers (Five RiversReinstein Woods, and Rogers) offer internships to persons seeking professional experience in the field of environmental education. Each intern will receive training in the mission and role of the DEC environmental education bureau, a wide variety of center programs, the operations and activities of a center, principles of environmental interpretation and natural history of New York. Interns will assume the role of environmental education staff in carrying out the responsibilities necessary to meet the center’s objectives. Opportunities for training and development of specific skills will be available depending on each intern’s interests and the center’s needs. The internships run for 10 to 16+ weeks (depending on the center) and are held year-round.

For more information, go the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC website) or download this application to review.


56 Game Farm Rd., Delmar, NY 12054
For Educational Program Information, email:  education@FriendsofFiveRivers.org
For General Information, email:  info@FriendsofFiveRivers.org
Phone:  (518) 475-0295

Charitable Tax ID# 23-7309978