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Photo by Freya Schlegel.

2021 Intern Reflections
by Olivia Freud

Interning with the North and South Rivers Watershed Association and MassBays has given me an invaluable experience that will benefit me in my desired career path in environmental science and management. As the eelgrass monitoring intern, I gained a wealth of knowledge about the ecology of the South Shore and specifically the Duxbury/Kingston/Plymouth bay, but this role also taught me so much about the functioning of a nonprofit organization.

As a biology and environmental science double major at Saint Michael’s College, it makes sense that my favorite tasks this summer took place in the field. Whether we were monitoring horseshoe crabs, doing surveys of invasive species in intertidal zones and harbor docks, snorkeling for mussel observations, taking water quality samples, or researching the percent coverage of eelgrass out of Plymouth harbor, each day presented exciting opportunities to learn and interact with the community. As I pursue a future in science, I am grateful to have gained some new laboratory and field-based skills that will not only help boost my resume, but also my success as a student. As I go into my senior year of college, I am now empowered with these new skillsets and scientific knowledge, and I hope to take all that I have learned here with me in my future as a graduate student and professional.

While the fieldwork was an incredible experience and met all of my greatest expectations for a research-based summer internship, I also gained experience in ways I did not expect. Having never worked in an office before, I learned a lot about how an office runs. Getting to help coordinate events like the Great River Race gave me insight into a process I had never had the opportunity to shadow before and I learned just how complex this process can be. In helping coordinate the Eelgrass Survey Blitz I learned how much work it can be to publicize events and schedule volunteers. It required a lot of time and energy and was not without its frustrations, but I also got the chance to experience how rewarding it is to work with amazing volunteers and help inspire public residents to be advocates for the environment and encourage them to do what they can to protect it.

With only having moved to the South Shore at the end of 2019, I am grateful to my time at the NSRWA because of how much it taught me about this new place I called home. I have learned more about this watershed in just these past three months than I ever knew about the one in my hometown where I spent the first twenty years of my life. I have also gotten to know so many of the incredible people who live in this area who have embraced me and taught me so much about what it means to live here. Being an outsider, I can say that the South Shore is a very special place to live and the NSRWA plays a large role in that by connecting the people to the environment.

My time at the NSRWA has only confirmed my passion for environmental science and has helped lead me towards the next step in my academic and professional career where I hope to enter the field of water resource science and management. I am grateful to have found a kindred spirit in Dr. Sara Grady and want to thank her as well as the entire NSRWA staff for involving me in a community of people who care about and actively protect our water resources.

Intern Reflections by Lee

Today, as I am writing this, is the second to last day of my internship at the North and South Rivers Watershed Association and MassBays. What a surreal feeling. I don’t think I ever properly prepared for the ending of the season and what that meant, in many ways this summer, being filled with new adventures every week, is reminiscent of how summers as a kid felt, a never ending summer of fun where every day was a new experience.

Of those experiences, I most enjoyed the marine invasive surveys, specifically on docks. Truly there is no more alien a place than the underside of a dock, so I’ve learned. This summer I also found my first ever anemone, which as silly as it may sound, was kind of a lifelong dream, or at least since I first saw Finding Nemo as a kid. The invasive surveys gave me a deep and newfound love for colonial tunicates, they are truly wonderful creatures. Those two experiences specifically brought me a sense of childlike adventure and discovery that I haven’t felt in some time.

This summer also greatly increased my understanding of the policy aspect of environmental science. I have been so focused on the hard science, I have in many ways neglected the equally important policy side of environmental work. All the science is for naught if you have no way to implement your findings into law. That is the importance of watershed associations I have come to realize, to be the bridge between the scientists and local governments and communities.

Lastly, on the topic of watershed associations I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to work with, and I couldn’t have asked for a better co-intern. I don’t believe I had a single bad day in the office this year. The feeling of sadness over leaving, though, is mitigated in part by the knowledge that I will, beyond a shadow of a doubt, be volunteering with the watershed when possible.

Thank you for the wonderful experience,
Lee

Reflections on Past Internships
Reflections on My Summer with NSRWA by Drew Martin
Reflections by Andrew Staley, 2018 Summer Intern
2017 Summer Interns Provide Invaluable Help to NSRWA
Meet Our Winter Intern Tess Walter
Summer Interns Provide Invaluable Resources to NSRWA
Nicole Gallup’s Internship Overview
Natalie Pitman Internship Overview

“My internship taught me that a huge part working in the environmental field is talking to people, making connections and educating the public… I couldn’t think of a better way of spending my summer this year. I am so thankful for getting these real-world experiences and gaining so much knowledge along the way.” ~ Kate McCarthy, NSRWA intern