My name is Quinton Grady and I’m a senior from Goldsboro, NC studying Environmental Studies at the University of North Caroina. This semester, I was lucky to be offered an internship working with the North Carolina Coastal Reserve. For background, the North Carolina Coastal Reserve (NCCR) is a division of the North Carolina National Estuarine Research Reserve. My mentor, Scott Crocker, is the NCCR Northern Sites Manager. There are three sites he manages: Kitty Hawk Woods–where his office is located and where i do the majority of my work–, Currituck Banks, and Buxton Woods. I have only visited Buxton once, and the other two sites I have accomplished alot of hands-on experience and research with. A usual day at the office is 8-5 and entails assisting Scott in general tasks. A portion of the NCCR’s responsibility includes allowing hunters to utilize reserve property, with special restrictions and rules on top of North Carolina’s gameland rules. Since the start of hunting season, I’ve had around 5 hunters come in every day to gain a registration form and permit to hunt either or both Kitty Hawk Woods and Currituck Banks. This is actually a very important process, for the information I give them must coincide with the Coastal Reserve’s regulations to ensure that people are following rules and considering both safety and their environment the top priorities. Usual office work is included, from answering phone calls to keeping the office clean and accompanying Scott on trips and errands.
By far my favorite portion of my work with Scott is managing our various sites. It has taken my love for hiking and being in nature and expanded it even more. My largest task for the semester is compliling a photo journal of identified flora and fauna that I encounter amongst the site. Working on this project has been so fun, even on the days earlier in the semester when I was trudging through snakegrass in 90 degree heat. Working in the Kitty Hawk Woods’ maritime forest and the diverse salt marsh/maritime forest ecosystem of Currituck Banks has taught me alot about rare ecosystems, how to manage them, how to control invasive species, and how to be an environmental steward towards people and the living things around us. A hands-on approach to working has been a hugely informative and enjoyable experience with NCCR, and Scott is an incredibly fun and helpful mentor to work with. I honestly am going to be a little lost at the end of the month when I can’t go in to work on Mondays and Wednesdays anymore. Yet, the beauty of Kitty Hawk Woods and Currituck Banks will be there for me and anyone to enjoy. That is why this internship and environmental stewardship are important to me, to preserve these wonders for ourselves and our future generations.