Hometown: Richmond, VA
Majors: Geology and Environmental Studies
Why did you apply for a Chesapeake Bay Internship?
No matter where I have lived in my life, I always find myself back on the Bay either to sail, fish, or these past two summers, to work. I can't stay away from it. At the end of my sophomore year I asked my advisor, Robert Humston, if he knew of any summer positions that I could apply for on the Bay or in the watershed. Not only did I feel like I owed the Chesapeake my service for the lifetime I've spent near it, but I knew that I couldn't have a bad time on the water.
What has been the most unexpected aspect of your internship?
We joked about this at work so this is for the field team guys: The NOAA weather Buoys. Any day we went out thinking that all we had to do was replace a part, or clean something off, a mess of problems would come our way. One day, we opened a water quality monitor and what looked like chords going into the WQM were water snakes. Another day, a bulge in a cable turned out to be a high pressure ball of acid that began spraying on us when we disconnected it from the buoy. Sometimes I thought that instead of a tool kit and a life jacket, our boat should have been equipped with a fedora and a whip..... I hate snakes.
I'm hoping to do some environmental consulting then go to law school, but I could see myself doing just about anything. Besides that, I really want to travel to Europe. I've never had the chance to leave the country so hopefully I can cram in a bunch of cultural experiences over there.
Favorite W&L Memory:
Last year I hiked up Devil's Marbleyard after one of the big snow storms. I watched the sunrise when I got to the top, then got to slide down a frozen waterfall on the way down.
Sedimentology and Stratigraphy with Professor Greer
Favorite W&L Events:
Last year it was the speakers that came in. James Hansen, Paul Watson and others. It was incredible getting to see superstars in my field of study stand in front of me and talk.
Favorite Lexington Landmark:
The rope swing behind the pole houses.
Two years ago I emailed my environmental studies professor and soon-to-be advisor, Robert Humston, asking if he knew of any internships on the Chesapeake Bay. A few days later, he sent me an email with contacts of his, locations where I could work, and even potential funding I could use to support my internship. I got in touch with the The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)'s Chesapeake Bay Office and was told that I could work with their field research team. All I needed was a place to stay. One of my roommates helped me get a place to stay right across the river from NCBO's warehouse. W&L's network helped me get off to a great start for an internship that would last two summers.
Naturally I was thrilled to have such a nice place to stay and an ideal internship, but I thought I should spend some more time studying the Chesapeake before I started work. Yet again, Professor Humston helped me out by creating an independent study course where I was able to do extensive literature review on issues surrounding the Chesapeake Bay. We covered everything from its geology to water quality and ecology during spring term.
By the time my first day in Annapolis came, I felt more than prepared for whatever NCBO had in store for me. I turned out that they had a little bit of everything in store. It is hard describe an average day during my internship, because each one was different.
My experiences included acoustically mapping seafloor in the field and processing that data to create various types of maps; building an underwater video camera system to use for ground-truthing in low-visibility rivers then doing the field sediment-analysis to evaluate the videos; exploring abandoned warehouses at the Naval Academy to help build the field team's new office; building, launching and maintaining weather buoys and water quality monitors and attending policy meetings with NCBO and with their partners. And did I mention I got to go seine fishing at least once a week? My work was incredibly diverse and rewarding. I got to see every part of NCBO's operations and got a first hand look at the day-to-day work of its scientists and managers.
Washington and Lee provided me with the perfect internship to study something I love, and the classes I've taken here came to life during my work. Things I learned in geology and biology classes directly applied to my internship. These included population dynamics, geomorphic feature and sediment analysis, and statistics just to mention a few. I now have a unique perspective on issues related to the Chesapeake Bay that come up in class. While working with NCBO, I was involved in and got to see everything from field work to policy decisions so the experience I've gained can be applied to all parts of my majors.
The faculty that have guided me and the generous supporters and operators of Washington and Lee's Chesapeake Bay Program have helped me gain invaluable experience by connecting me to an inspiring and impressive group of people at NCBO. This sort of experience does not seem uncommon at our school, which makes me realize how lucky I am to go here and have these sorts of opportunities.