Time has absolutely flown by. I cannot believe that I have little over a month left with my internship. I swear I just got out of orientation. I was so nervous leaving home to go to the National Conservation Training Center in West Virginia.
Needless to say, orientation was a blast. I met so many new people and learned so many neat things. The diversity of the interns, our mentors, the surroundings, and everything, really set the stage for a soon to be fantastic summer.
After spending an incredible week at NCTC, my flight landed in Lake Charles, LA and I would soon be at work. The first day was basically orientation. My supervisor took me around the Cameron Prairie Visitors Center and later we went to Sabine National Wildlife Refuge. On the way, we stopped at Holly Beach, where I saw the ocean (yeah… the Gulf of Mexico) for the first time.
The next day, my two fellow interns, Sara and Josh, and I went to Sabine to pick up trash. OH MY. It was rather unpleasant. We loaded possibly twelve, 40-gallon bags worth of trash within three hours. Anything and everything you could imagine, we bagged up.
That whole first week was just a complete eye-opening experience. I saw so many species of birds I had never seen before and began learning the names of many plants. I felt like a sponge around all my coworkers because of my lack of environmental knowledge.
I have overcome many challenges already by being here and have done many things I never saw myself doing before. I even helped weed eat a half mile boardwalk in 98 degree humid Louisiana weather! I don’t think I have ever felt that gross, but it was definitely worth it to see the boardwalk cleaned up.
I’ve painted kiosks, put up boundary signs on boat, cleaned bathrooms, helped visitors, educated kids at the center, took vegetative samples, trained on pesticides, rode ATVs, caught birds, made brochures… just about everything! It is really great too, because I expected to only work in the Visitors Center. Instead, I am being exposed to all operations within the U.S. Fish and Wildlife. It’s really cool to see how all the small pieces fit together to make an organization run.
We just started dove banding. I can’t wait to see what else is in the works. My advice for people contemplating on doing something new… do it! Don’t be afraid, you might just miss out on a great opportunity. Even if it doesn’t work out, it’s still a story to tell.