Dewees Island Internships launch scientific careers on the island

Each summer, we have interns on the island who help with sea turtle patrol and environmental programs. Many of our interns have gone on to positions at the Department of Natural Resources or other scientific organizations. Last fall, I had the chance to talk with Lisa, one of our interns, and she was so excited about what she learned here that I asked her to write it down. Here is her letter, in full.

I was a Sea Turtle Tech intern on Dewees Island during the summer of 2010. The time I spent on Dewees has definitely helped mold me into the person and scientist that I am today. While most college students spend their summers working at restaurants or sitting at home, I was gaining experiences that I would not trade for the world. As a sea turtle tech, my main responsibilities involved participating with the Dewees Island Sea Turtle Patrol and volunteering with the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge Turtle Team. When I was not focusing on turtles, I worked at the nature center where I could explore something new on a daily basis. I had never experienced any place like Dewees; for someone who loves nature, what better place to grow, learn and experience it at its fullest? From leading marsh walks to seining events, movie nights to plankton parties, I spent more time learning on my own than I ever anticipated. One of my most memorable experiences on Dewees was the fish kill that summer. This sounds like a horrible and disgusting time, which I can assure you it was; however, this experience changed my understanding of the world around me. The whole summer leading up to the fish kill I monitored the temperature, salinity and dissolved oxygen content of different locations around Dewees including the ferry dock, rice trunk dock, Chapel dock, Lake Timicau Dock, and Myrtle Dock. As the summer continued, I began to see the dissolved oxygen content decrease and the temperature rise, events that commonly lead to a fish kill. Monitoring the events would end up leading to a fish kill brought my knowledge about these events to a new level. I went from bird watching at the Fairchild’s house to wadding hip deep with Lori in the impoundment filled with dead menhaden. I had studied the importance of water quality, and I understood the basic concepts of life cycles and the food chain. Having the opportunity to watch all the pieces fit together gave me a new perspective on my previous textbook education, and allowed me to grow from a student to a scientist.
Not only did the internship fill my summer with great personal experiences, but also with wonderful professional experiences. While I gained great field experience with sea turtle nesting, I also became very experienced in environmental education, wildlife and coastal habitats, barrier island morphology, and I made great professional contacts for the future. I also received ATV training and earned my MOCC (Motorboat Operator Certification Course). Four months after my internship, I graduated with my B.S in Marine Science with a Biology minor, and I accepted a job as a Seasonal Biologist with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources Marine Turtle Conservation Program. I believe that my experiences on Dewees helped me get where I am today and will continue to aid me in accomplishing the goals I have set for myself. I owe so much to Dewees for all the important experiences I had while there. The island and the people I met made me feel so at home, and I still consider myself as a part of the community. I could not stress how important the internship experience was for me and how much it has shaped my future, and I would like to thank everyone who helped in making that happen.
Lisa Scarano

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Anne Anderson

    Judy, this delightful message from Lisa reminded me of the strong commitment Dewees Island has to our annual Intern program. The personal growth experiences for each of our many interns we sponsor has impacted their lives similarly. More importantly for Dewees, the interns provide enthusiastic programs for our youth, manage our Nature Center exhibits, are excellent role models and are the extra hands that are so needed during our busy summer months. Lori has an innate ability to find just the right students for Dewees! I look forward to getting to welcoming the 2012 team and watching their interaction with all who enjoy the island.
    Anne Anderson

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