Life of an Intern: Part Two

Hello again! It is round two of my blog posts, and my final post before my internship comes to an end. The 160 hours I spent with the BCCDKY have been an amazing learning opportunity that has come to an end, all too soon. My plan, post-graduation, is to find a career in environmental education. The skills I learned from BCCDKY over the past few months are sure to benefit me as I move on to a career. Since my first post I have been involved in a variety of projects. There simply is not enough time to tell every detail, so I will let you in on the highlights of the last few months.

On October second, I had the opportunity to participate in an eDNA study of Gunpowder Creek. The goal was to prove the rumors that the elusive hellbender salamanders were living in the area. For those who are not familiar with eDNA, it is a DNA sample collected from the environment instead of directly from an individual organism. In this instance the sample was collected by filtering water samples. The filter paper was collected and further processed in the lab to confirm or refute the rumors of the hellbender’s existence in the creek. We are still awaiting the results of the study but will hopefully share news soon!

The other major project going on was the opening of a birding trail at Conservancy Park. After getting my hands dirty during some trail maintenance, I was inspired to incorporate birds into a lesson plan for the environmental outreach programs. I chose to create a lesson that focuses on beak adaptations and how specialization allows birds to fulfill a specific niche in the ecosystem. The highlight of the lesson was the seven-station activity. Each station had a unique food source that students had to collect by choosing the best tool. Each tool represented the different types of beaks birds could have. For example, chopsticks were used to simulate the beak of a woodcock. Their long beaks allow them to reach deep into soil to find worms. It was fulfilling to see the lesson come full circle, from an idea to a successful activity that made learning enjoyable for all involved.

Thank you for the opportunity to share my experiences with you.

~Julie

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