Sage Environmental Leadership Program




“It is natural to protect what we love. To fall in love with nature, 
we need the personal connection of our senses—we need to be physically involved.” 

—Ann Dunne, Founder of Sage Environmental Internship Program

How does a college student, or recent graduate, build a resume? Internships are invaluable. At San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy, our staff works closely with interns to develop enriching field experiences and career-building opportunities. 

Interns can develop expertise in several conservation fields:

Co-lead school field trips and summer camps, and develop hands-on activities. Monitor lagoon water quality, generating data relied on for lagoon restoration. Restore and maintain trails, including Annie's Canyon Trail; removing graffiti, bench and fence repairs, leading youth on-trail. Get dirty in San Elijo Nursery with native seed collection and plant growth.

Interns are mentored by conservancy professionals in the fields of science and environmental educationFor more than 20 years, the conservancy has supported many interns who have achieved advanced degrees in the field of life sciences.  

Over the past two decades we have supported many students who have moved on to completing higher degrees or secured a career position in the fields of life science, and environmental education.  As we continue to grow as an organization, we are shining a new light on the importance of mentoring.





Gianni Denson
2016 | 2017 | 2018 Annie's Canyon Trail
Gianni is a sixteen year old junior at San Dieguito Academy and third generation Californian. As the youngest and newest member of the conservation team, he hopes to experience hands on lagoon water and fish monitoring, and to be of service for years to come. He is a passionate surfer, diver, and fisherman, closely connecting him to the ocean and watershed. He enjoys playing beach volleyball and will be on the SDA varsity volleyball team this year. He is forming his goals in science, and is excited to learn more as he helps care for our long loved lagoon. Gianni completed 100 hours of volunteer service during his 2016 summer internship experience and returns summer 2017 to volunteer 100 more.

Alison Fretwell
2018 Water Quality

Alison is a water quality intern for the conservancy as well as a civil engineering student at the University of North Dakota. Since she wants to focus her degree on water, Alison is grateful to have this opportunity to learn. She grew up around Carlsbad’s Batiquitos lagoon and the local beaches, so spending time at the water’s edge is a dream come true for her. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family, surfing, snowboarding, and hiking around the county.


Matthew Leonard
2018 Habitat Restoration | Water Quality | Land Stewardship
Matthew graduated with an Environmental Studies degree at CSU San Marcos. In school, he served as a founding officer of the Environmental Studies club with a mission to connect students with local environmental professionals. Matthew is a longtime trail enthusiast, counting backpacking, cycling and exploring California among his hobbies. In his spare time, he studies computer programming and volunteers at the Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve.
Ian Moffit
2018 Annie's Canyon Trail
Ian earned a B.S in Ecology and Biodiversity from the University of Denver in 2017 and graduated with an honors thesis regarding Tamarix management strategies and their effects on the reproductive success of the southwestern willow flycatcher. Ian has previous experience working for environmental non-profits as he interned with the Mountain Area Land Trust based in Evergreen Colorado during the summer of 2017. In his free time, Ian enjoys snowboarding, fly fishing, and wildlife photography." 
Madelyn Roycroft
2018 Habitat Restoration
Madelyn finished her Master’s in Biological Sciences at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo in June 2018 and earned a degree in Environmental Sciences from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2014. She has extensive experience in estuarine, coastal and marine ecology through her education and work experiences in Florida, North Carolina and the Caribbean. Through the internship, she hopes to become proficient in the identification of southern California native plant species, habitat restoration techniques and GIS skills. In her free time she enjoys diving, surfing, and baking sourdough bread.