An Experience to Remember

“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art.... It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.”

Wow! Today I am sitting at my desk for the last time, writing my final blog before I head on out later. Where did the time go?! I am reflecting on my brief time here at the Everglades National Park and I can say that without a doubt, this experience has been life changing. I am so grateful to have had this internship and be the first cohort of Fish and Feathers. The pandemic ruined any study abroad and in person internships I applied for; therefore, this was the first chance I was able to work outside of school to pursue and gain professional, hands-on environmental conservation experience. This journey has been amazing and I truly think that this has internship was a milestone in my career and future. Thank you to everyone that I have met along the way; your kindness, friendship, and intellect are something I will always remember and hold dear to my heart. 

Ending with a bang

One of my last programs was a collaboration with two fellow Fish and Feather interns from Everglades National Park and Biscayne National Park, a Scientists in Parks intern from Shark Valley Visitor Center, and a Greening Youth intern from Ernest Coe Visitor Center. We hosted 60+ people for an environmental stewardship and birding program at the local Tropical Audubon Society in Miami. It was truly amazing to finally end our internships on a good note and together. I am so happy to have had this opportunity to collaborate with my friends/coworkers and actually plan this event out with a college alumni of mine that is working at the Audubon Society. It was truly great to speak to so many adults and children about my passion: the environment. 

Overall, I had many other programs for birding and fishing in my last few weeks here at the Everglades! I was able to host many demographics and various group sizes, from 4 year olds to seniors and from a group of five people to over sixty! 

These programs were one of my favorite parts of the internship because I got to see people get hooked, beginning to ask questions, and think critically about the environment around us. I hope that the people I spoke with were able to gain some skills and become interested in nature a little more than before. 

Safe capture training

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission took the time to give me a personal training on how to safely capture a Burmese Python, one of the most well-known invasive species in Florida. I learned about how to correctly use a snake stick, safety gear, handling a snake, and how to safely extract it from the environment. The biologists and invasive species removal team also spoke to me one-on-one about their experiences in the wildlife management field as well as the various opportunities and pathways I can make for myself after graduation. Thank you for the amazing experience and allowing my to practice my newly learned skills on a real six foot female Burmese Python. 

Lobster Surveying

Volunteers, interns, and park rangers all over Southern Florida helped with the start of the Lobstering Mini Season. Biscayne National Park hosted their annual lobster survey at two local marinas to gather data on lobster size, sex, count, and capture method. This data is essential to help identify whether the lobster populations are healthy enough to have future lobstering seasons. Additionally, fishing laws and restrictions are created year-to-year to help protect dwindling species populations; therefore, the data is essential to the protection of marine life and for sustainability practices. 

I met amazing locals and spoke with fellow interns and park rangers about their experiences. Not to mention, I held a lobster for the very first time in my life! 

Thank you

A big shout out to the first ever Fish and Feathers cohort! It was great meeting and training with you all in Colorado. I never felt a bond with a group of people as strong as with you. Thank you for all the great conversations, sharing fun photos in our intern group chat, and for being such kind people. This was the first time ever that I was able to have deep, intellectual conversations about the environment with others just as passionate about nature as I am. Throughout the internship, I always referred to this group as ‘my tribe’ and this is definitely not goodbye forever! I cannot wait to hear all of the great things you all do in the future. 

Thank you to the National Park Service, Fish and Feathers, Environment for the Americas, and everyone that helped make this internship an experience I will forever remember. This is not a goodbye, but a see you soon!

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