Stephanie Price, center, talks about her internship at the Jefferson County Madison Area Chamber of Commerce. Amanda Waltz, left, and Sarah Ward, right, and several other college students from across the country have spent  their summer in Madison as part of the Madison Advance Internship Network program. (Staff photo by Ken Ritchie/kritchie@madisoncourier.com)
Stephanie Price, center, talks about her internship at the Jefferson County Madison Area Chamber of Commerce. Amanda Waltz, left, and Sarah Ward, right, and several other college students from across the country have spent their summer in Madison as part of the Madison Advance Internship Network program. (Staff photo by Ken Ritchie/kritchie@madisoncourier.com)
A new program has brought a blast of youthful energy to Madison this summer.

A group of eight interns is working at some of the city's notable sites and organizations as part of Madison's inaugural Madison Advanced Internship Network (MAIN), which focuses on providing internships for students and recent graduates with experience in areas of historic preservation.

Even though they're working in different areas, all of the interns live in Hanover College housing. Being able to live and sometimes work with other people around their age was a draw, several interns said.

Davis Allen, who is interning for the Office of Historic Preservation and Community Relations and Development, said being able to come home to a group of interns with similar experiences was appealing.

"That's been really nice - being able to go home and have people to talk to, who you know - instead of just being on your own somewhere random where you don't know anyone."

Sarah Ward, one of two interns working for the Heritage Trail Conservancy, said working with people from different areas was one of the things that attracted her.

"I applied to a lot of other internships, and this one was really unique because of the opportunity to work with other fields," she said. "I think that kind of reflects on the field of preservation itself, because it shows that it's really a community thing, and there's more than one type of person that should be involved in it."

Ward and Robert Wolfe are working with a team preparing a historic property report for the Stone Arch Culvert, a historic resource located along the trail. Ward is a student at Iowa State University pursuing a degree in architecture, and Wolfe is a masters student at West Virginia University pursuing a degree in history.

Allen is a historic preservation student at the Savannah College of Art and Design.

Karl Marti, a graduate student in architecture and historic preservation at the University of Minnesota, interns for the Cornerstone Society. Marti is

Visit Madison, Inc.'s intern is Katie Torbert who is developing a program to increase visitation to Madison's historic sites as well as creating a stained glass walking tour. Torbert is pursuing her master of arts degree in professional communication from Clemson University.

Gemma Tierney interns with the Madison Main Street Program. She assists with the alley activation project that will turn a downtown alley into a gathering space.

Stephanie Price, a senior at Indiana University studying eastern Asian languages and culture and anthropology, is an intern at the Jefferson County Madison Area Chamber of Commerce. Price is compiling a database of statistics from local small business.

Amanda Waltz is working for the Jefferson County Historical Society. Waltz assists in researching early trades and artisans within Jefferson County. She studies studio art and art history at Hanover College.

Waltz said that, even though she's lived in Hanover, she didn't realize everything that was available to see in the area.

"I didn't really know all of these little gems are all over Madison. So, being exposed to them and knowing that a lot of them have ... free admission to students is really great."

One of the other surprises has been the city's small-town feel and sense of community.

"Personally for me, (one of the biggest surprises has been) walking down the street and actually running into someone I know. Even though I've only been here for however many weeks. I actually run into people and they say 'Oh, hi.' and they call you by your name and ask you what you're doing," Ward said. "I come from a background of larger cities, and I've never felt that."

Price said she's learned a lot about Madison while working with the Chamber of Commerce.

"There is a very strong sense of community. I like that a lot," Price said "Going around to all the different businesses owners, it seems like everybody knows what's going on and they seem to have any opinion on it. And they're not shy to let you know what their opinion is."

Beyond interning, the group has also toured several of the area's historic landmarks, including the Saddletree factory, Lanier Mansion and Eleutherian Collage.

They have also had Sunday dinners with different community members. Mayor Damon Welch is hosting the group Sunday.

"They feed us well," Price said, "And every week they ask us if we want to take leftovers home, and we say 'yes.'"

The interns also have given public presentations over various topics and attended lectures given by community members.

"The community has been very supportive," Julianne Steger, Madison's preservation coordinator and MAIN director, said.

The final day of the MAIN program is July 31. Steger said there are plans for the program to continue next year.