Summer Winding Down at the South Slough

Happy Sunday, everyone! Hope you enjoy my blog for the week.

What I learned:

As my internship at the South Slough is winding down, I look back at my time there with great gratitude. I have had the opportunity to experience and learn many things! Here is just a condensed list:

  • I have had the opportunity to learn about how the South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve System (SSNERR) functions on an organizational level, how it receives funding, what branches it is made up of (and what they do), and what it means to be part of the National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERRS).
  • I have learned how to create educational materials and deliver outdoor/wildlife education to children.
  • I now have an in-depth understanding of how to properly conduct plant-monitoring surveys in varying types of environments. 
  • I have developed a much better understanding of estuarine environments and their watersheds.
  • I learned how to properly kayak!
  • My ability to identify local plants went from basically nonexistent to relatively extensive within the past two months.
  • I have also had the opportunity to learn about a bunch of animals I never knew how to identify, from invasive ocean-dwelling crabs to colorful high-flying birds… and much in between!
  • Luckily, I’ve also had the opportunity to work under great mentors who have shown me what it takes to foster a happy and productive team of people.
Taking a tree core from a 98-ft tall Western Hemlock. This tree was 60 years old and had a circumference of approximately 5 1/2 ft. Pictured on the left and right are some campers who got to learn all about the importance of natural resources last week!

What surprised me:

I am shocked by how quickly this summer has passed. My time at the South Slough has been super fun and had great variety… and for those reasons it has felt like a blink of an eye. There were so many projects I was allowed to choose from at the beginning of the summer, and when I looked at them, I was confident I could complete them all! Boy, was I wrong! Between days of fieldwork, camp preparation, and actually helping lead the camps, I rarely had time to do anything else in the 2nd half of my internship. Am I disappointed about that? NO! Being busy has been awesome… especially provided the circumstances of our nation right now. This summer, my greatest surprise was that I felt more like an employee or a true part of the education team than an intern. I was still able to complete a relatively hefty plant guide as well as introduce new camp activities and materials, but much of my time was spent like helping the education and science teams with daily tasks. I loved it.

Eelgrass restoration project: here, I am holding an eelgrass plant that had been taken from a location flourishing with eelgrass in a bay near Charleston. This eelgrass was planted higher up in the estuary in a location that has seen heavy eelgrass decline in recent years. Eelgrass serves an important role for many estuarine animals as sources of food and habitat. It is hoped that relocating eelgrass to this location will allow it to reproduce there and flourish once again.

What I would have done differently:

I really enjoyed my time and got a ton out of it. I don’t know that I’d do anything much differently because I learned so much. If I knew what I do now, maybe I would’ve started earlier! In the past couple weeks, I have also become super interested in birds… So I guess I would’ve asked a lot more questions about birds! I feel I could have networked more, but I much prefer in-person interaction and have a difficult time networking with people virtually. I developed great relationships with the people I worked with in-person, but those that I never met in person were hard for me to connect with.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

2 thoughts on “Summer Winding Down at the South Slough

  1. Lucas, thanks for a another great blog – sounds like it’s been a productive and fun summer! I’m thrilled to hear that you learned so much and that you got a chance to try out so many different tasks and projects. I hope that your relationship with SSNERR will be a long-term one, and that you will stay in touch with your mentors through grad school and beyond.

  2. I think it’s great that you still were able to work with the campers and teach them all about natural resources in the field! Those experiences are so important for young kids to have when educating them about the environment.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.