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Summer job experience leads Boonsboro grad to change college major

August 02, 2010|By HEATHER KEELS
  • Boonsboro High School graduate Andrew Landsman is a biological technician at Antietam National Battlefield.
By Kevin G. Gilbert/Staff Photographer,

BOONSBORO --Boonsboro High School graduate Andrew Landsman started college as a Spanish major, but after a summer job working for the National Park Service at Antietam National Battlefield, there was no going back.

"I liked working outside so much, I switched my major," he said.

Landsman, now 25, went on to get a master's degree in environmental biology from Hood College and now works full time for the battlefield as a biological technician.

The job is one many visitors to the park might never stop to consider.

"To tell you the truth, not a lot of people know what we do," Landsman said. "They think, it's a battlefield, we give tours. But there's a lot of behind-the-scenes work we do to make sure it's a healthy ecology."

The job involves tasks like tracking the health of the park's white-tailed deer population, monitoring water quality and removing invasive species of plants, but at Antietam, there also is a cultural aspect to a biologist's work.

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"We have to incorporate environmental stewardship into cultural restoration of the landscape," with an overarching goal of re-creating the landscape that existed during the Battle of Antietam on Sept. 17, 1862, Landsman said.

For example, Landsman said the park has been working to reforest the east woods, an area that was wooded at the time of the battle but where many trees were cut down in the 1900s.

The area was mowed and a cover crop was planted to keep out weeds, and then, with the help of volunteers like school and Scout groups, as well as inmate labor, the park is planting thousands of small trees. More than 2,500 were planted this spring, Landsman said.

For historical accuracy, even the types of trees to plant are researched by consulting documents such as letters from soldiers describing the scenery, Landsman said.

"I'm always learning new things," he said.

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