SPOTLIGHT Rising Star: Ben Kadlec

Nestled across the northern Illinois landscape, the Lake Forest Open Land Association (LFOLA) maintains nearly 900 acres of woodlands and wetlands across six nature preserves, providing an educational and recreational area for the greater Chicago community to enjoy. Home to a variety of endangered species and several rare and globally significant prairies, this picturesque setting was Ben Kadlec’s “office” during his internship with the Lake Forest Open Land Association.

Ben is a Senior at Earlham College studying Environmental Sustainability, with a minor in Earth and Environmental Science. He worked for the LFOLA’s Restoration Team during his Epic Advantage experience over the summer of 2022. During his internship, Ben maintained and restore hundreds of acres of prairies, forests, grasslands, and more. Ben recalled that the best aspect of the internship was being immersed in nature all day, as he worked to the sounds of birds and waves crashing on the shores of Lake Michigan. “It was an incredibly unique work experience to be alongside great people helping the beautiful land and life around you,” said Ben.

Putting in the work to restore woodlands and wetlands for species to thrive and the community to enjoy does not come without sacrifice. Ben reported that being exposed to the elements- especially the grueling heat waves during the mid-summer months- could be difficult to manage. However, the hot temperatures did not keep Ben from learning a diverse and valuable skillset that directly applies to his career interests in environmental compliance and policy. “Much of our work focused on the removal of invasive plants throughout the preserves. We also spent a lot of time collecting seeds and monitoring endangered species.”

While Ben recalled that the searching for an internship experience can feel daunting, he had one piece of advice for Earlham students looking to use their Epic Advantage in a meaningful way: “don’t be afraid to search really far and wide to find cool opportunities! Seeing so many cool opportunities during my search gave me relief that I could hopefully be accepted to at least one of them. There’s a lot out there that I’m sure you couldn’t even think of until you looked, so be creative and see what’s out there!”

Need help finding an internship or experiential opportunity for Epic Advantage? Be sure to connect with your Career Coach in the Center for Career Education, located on the first-floor of the Landrum Bolling Center.

By Corey Kundert
Corey Kundert Senior Career Coach