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WIU sophomore journalism major Jessie (Baumann) Sheley, an intern at Spring Lake in Macomb, works on staining a fence at the park recently.
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WIU sophomore journalism major Jessie (Baumann) Sheley, an intern at Spring Lake in Macomb, is pictured with Park Manager Ryan Hansen.
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Spring Lake Partners with WIU for Internship Program

April 6, 2015

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MACOMB, IL – A recent change in management at Macomb's Spring Lake Park is transitioning into a new internship program available for students in a variety of Western Illinois University's academic programs.

Several months ago, former Macomb Alderman Ryan Hansen took over management of Spring Lake Park, just northwest of Macomb. In one of several changes Hansen is making at the park, this semester four WIU students are interning in the park.

"Our goal is to add and to the partnership between the park and the University," Hansen said. "A lot of kids come to Macomb and they haven't spent a lot of time outdoors, but we help them learn skills like how to build picnic tables or how to use a cordless drill.

The internships are typically in recreation, park and tourism administration (RPTA) and biology; however, this semester a journalism student is doing social media and website work for the park.

This semester's interns include Jessie (Baumann) Sheley, a sophomore journalism major from Sawyerville, IL; Tommy Legrand, a sophomore RPTA major from Channahon, IL; Jessica Bippus, a junior RPTA major from Lockport, IL, and Patrick Kolp, a sophomore RPTA major of Glen Ellyn, IL.

Sheley spends 10 hours a week writing a blog, keeping the park's website and Facebook page updated with current events and doing physical labor in the park, including staining wood. Because her studies have a public relations emphasis, Sheley said she appreciates the opportunity the park gives her to gain experience in reaching out the public.

"It offers me a chance at hands-on learning," she said.

WIU sophomore RPTA major Tommy Legrand, of Channahon, IL, said his time at Spring Lake has been not only fun, but also a good learning experience.

"Working has taught me about park maintenance and definitely more about time management," he said. "Sure we do a good amount of hard work, but every time I go out to Spring Lake, I feel less like I'm at work and more like I get to do the things I love to do. It has definitely become my escape from school, building picnic tables and boat docks, as well as splitting logs is just another day having fun in the woods."

Hansen said the new internship programming has helped him learn new skills as well, including creative scheduling to make sure everyone stays busy.

"The program has given a younger personality around here – it's energizing the place a little more," Hansen said.

The internship allows students the opportunity to stay in Macomb and take other classes while fulfilling their internship requirements.

"The partnership between Spring Lake and the Recreation, Park and Tourism Administration Department has great potential to provide students with internship experiences under the supervision of RPTA faculty and park officials," said RPTA Chair Dan Yoder. "Several of our students aspire to work in park settings such as Spring Lake, and this will be a significant benefit to them."

Department of Biological Sciences Chair Charles Lydeard agreed, saying the program provides students with a unique opportunity.

"This internship provides the best of two different worlds - managing day-to-day operations of Spring Lake Park and conducting a research project related to the Spring Lake Park ecosystem," said Lydeard. "Students are encouraged to work with faculty in the department to develop feasible and worthwhile research proposals."

Hansen is also offering a paid 10-week summer internship to a biology student to study the impact of introducing walleye into Spring Lake.

For more information about the park, visit or email Hansen at

Posted By: Jodi Pospeschil (
Office of University Communications & Marketing