Because Who Doesn’t Want a Class Cheat Sheet?

Oh yeah, this is your campus building
Oh yeah, this is your campus building

It happens to everyone. You take a risk and sign up for a class and you have literally have no idea what to expect. What even is The Reel World?

That first day of walking into the unknown is full of anxiety, maybe even a small ball of dread right in the pit of your stomach. Should you drop the class now and save yourself the stress? Oh man, what if the teacher hands you a 10-page paper due that same day. Or even worse, speaks in a monotone voice (collective internal groan).

Like I said friends, we’ve all been there before.

In order to alleviate this pesky dread ball, I’m providing you with a brief cheat guide to the classes here at OBXFS. Spoiler Alert: they’re actually really good classes.

So this is Andy
So this is Andy

First up to bat: economics. For me, this meant a huge yuck when I heard I had to take an econ class. But, it’s taught by Andy Keeler, who is probably one of the most interesting individuals I’ve met thus far. The man worked for the president when the whole climate change fiasco hit the country, and he has some pretty funny/insane stories to tell. He’s also in a band that you should definitely make a point to hear while you’re at the field site. They can do a mean cover of Budapest! Back to the class. Honestly, the workload is totally manageable and huge perk, he does activities with candy rewards. Man oh man, I’ve never focused so hard for class in my life. This one time we went fishing with paperclips… Well, I’ll let that one be a surprise. More incentives to come to the OBXFS! There’s a ton of reading, par to pretty much any UNC class, but the textbook is interesting and doesn’t make you want to burn it (insert applause). I’ve also personally learned a lot from the class, which is saying something because me an economics have never been too friendly. More like arch nemeses actually… But learning about economics in relation to the environment is pretty neat.

Isn't she awesome?
Isn’t she awesome?

Next up is law and policy. Let me just tell you, Lee Leidy is one of the most sweetest, good-hearted people. She frequently comes to class laden with muffins, donuts, and apples just for the heck of it. Awesome right?! She works for a law firm in Elizabeth City so it’s kind of hard to picture her standing up in court tearing up the competition. But the woman knows her stuff and she absolutely loves what she does. I’ve learned a lot just from the simple fact that she’s passionate and really knows how to get the information across. She does however grade you on participation so if you’re not used to talking in class, it can be a bit of a struggle at first. Pro tip, if you read the assignments beforehand, it’s pretty easy to participate in the case discussions. Plus, she really cares about what you have to say. The subject matter covers an array of coastal issues and why you can go sit out on your beach chair and sunbathe in NC. Neat, huh?

Lindsay and Corey keepin' us on track
Lindsay and Corey keepin’ us on track

The last class is coastal ecology, which is my favorite because I’m a total science geek. Lindsay Dubbs teaches the course and covers a pretty big range of information about coastal environments. Plus, Fridays are lab days, which consist of exploring different coastal environments to go along with what we’ve been learning about in class. Hands-on learning is the best learning. Hands down… See what I did there? Anyways, it’s difficult to understand how dynamic and intricate the coast is until you’re immersed in learning about it, which is exactly what this class does. It’s fairly reading intensive and you’ll have a few quizzes and presentations, but overall not too bad. Lindsay geeks out about nature as much as I do, so I really appreciate how much she loves this stuff. She’s involved in like a million research projects so she’s pretty much superwoman and knows everything… And if she doesn’t know, she will find out. Hence, super great education!

Yup. This would have been us
Yup. This would have been us

While the capstone is technically research and not a class, I consider it a course just because of how much I’ve learned in the process. Lindsay and Linda D’Anna both lead the project and have taught us a crash course in natural and social science research. I’m not going to sugar coat it; doing collaborative research is hard work. It’s not just learning everything you can about what you’re studying through literature review, it’s also learning to work with a group of people to move forward with the project. And let me tell you, being Chapel Hill students, saying we’re a bit driven is an understatement. So it can turn into rough waters at times. But, seeing your hard work progress to actual data and results is so incredibly rewarding. I promise you won’t be disappointed. Yes it will make you want to gouge your eyeballs out sometimes, but just stay strong and keep the finish line in mind. A huge shoutout to Linda and Lindsay for putting up with our overachieving streak, our 5-hour discussions, and our exasperation. Seriously, they were the only things keeping us from derailing and exploding into a fiery wreck sometimes.

So, those are the courses you’ll be taking here at the OBXFS. Now there should be no first day sweats or surprises. You’ll learn a ton, see even more, and be up to your eyeballs in everything coastal.

By the way, this is the view from the classroom. What?!
By the way, this is the view from the classroom. What?!

Seriously though, I’ve learned more here than I probably have in an entire year at UNC. It’s awesome being taught by such passionate people. You’re also in a super small classroom so they know who you are, they’re there whenever you need them, and they actually care if you understand what they’re teaching. But if you oversleep, they will call your butt to get you to class. Just a friendly forewarning.


Oh, and I almost forgot the best part. You can study on the beach. Need I say more?


XOXO An OBXFS Student Keeping Away that Pesky Anxiety

You are What You Eat: Food in Dare County

Hello! My name is Emma Boyd, and I am a senior Environmental Studies/English major from Boone, NC. Before this semester, the longest amount of time that I had spent on the coast at one time had not exceeded a week. Now I can say that I have lived at the beach, and have been a part of a wonderful and welcoming community on Roanoke Island. A big part of that community has been my internship at the Dare County Cooperative Extension. Let me tell you a little more about it.

When I first got accepted to the Outer Banks Field Site, I was asked about my interests and experiences so that they could find me an internship that I would enjoy. I’m afraid I was less than helpful, however. I was (and still am, to be honest) so unsure about my future, and what I want to do after college that all I could tell them was that I was interested in food. Which is 100% true, not only do I love to cook it and eat it, but I am also interested in the way that it reaches our stomachs. Who grows it, who ships it, who buys it. This answer (or lack of an answer) led me to my internship with the Dare County Cooperative Extension.

Before I go into specifics, I am going to tell a little about the NC Cooperative Extension because if you are anything like I was 3 months ago, you have heard of it but aren’t quite sure what it does.

Every county in the country has a Cooperative Extension, and every Cooperative Extension is affiliated with a state university. In North Carolina, the Cooperative Extension is affiliated with NC State. Cooperative Extension is a partnership between county and university that focuses on making information generated by public universities accessible to the public. Since it started in 1914 it has accordingly had to adapt to the times, but it is still a valuable resource for the community, with a general focus on agriculture, families, and responsible youth.

That brings me to my specific role with the Dare County Cooperative Extension. My main focus is working with the Outer Banks Local Food Council on their community food assessment. The Outer Banks Local Food Council is a council affiliated with Dare Cooperative Extension that focuses on advocating for local products and educating the community about local food movements. The community food assessment is an evaluation of the food situation in a localized area. I am responsible for the capital resource assessment portion of the assessment. I look into seven different areas of food resource and try to summarize their impacts in the community. The seven areas are: cultural, human, social, political, financial, natural, and built. I have two wonderful mentors: Shannon Brooks, the County Extension Director, and Jennifer Thompson, the Family and Consumer Sciences Agent. Both have helped and guided me through my project, and I couldn’t have done it without them.

The Outer Banks Field Site took my less-than-helpful request to work with food and found me the perfect internship. I have learned more about a single community’s food network than I even knew there was to learn. I have enjoyed working in the office with Shannon and Jennifer, and it has been a great learning experience to see the Outer Banks Local Food Council’s meetings and process. Thanks to everyone who made this internship possible!



Connecting the Dots through Storytelling

As I have made my way through my college career, the question has not been what do I want to do–it’s been what don’t I want to do. It hasn’t been easy to narrow that down into a clear path that leads to job at the end, but from what I’ve been hearing here at the Outer Banks Field Site, it probably shouldn’t be.

As were my peers at the field site, I was matched with an organization or member of the community whose work matched up with my interests. I was given the wonderful opportunity to work with Beth Storie on a project that is able to encompass many of my passions: writing, agriculture, sustainability, and talking with people. Beth is the creative mind behind Outer Banks This Week, a website and magazine that brings all the great things about the Outer Banks from the locals to the visitors. Seriously, you won’t miss a beat if you let Beth and her team plan your vacation out on the coast!

I’ve been wanting to make sustainable living more visible and accessible to the public, in some capacity. I know that education is the key to making this happen, and if I’ve learned anything, facts and figures aren’t always the best way to provoke change. My internship is allowing me to explore storytelling as a means of communicating with the public. My mission has been to find organic farmers in eastern North Carolina and interview them about their careers. If there was a group of people to gain inspiration from, it would be the organic farmers. Though I’ve began asking the different farmers questions from the same script, each interview goes in a very unique direction.

My first interview was with Hazel Inglis, one of the most lively people I’ve ever met. Her family owns Somerset Farm near Edenton, NC, which looks like a snapshot out of the early 1900’s when they use horses to plow the land. Hazel worked on a farm for a couple years after graduating college. She loved the work but never glamorized it: ““I like going to bed with my muscles aching. I like that. I like when you plant a crop…you watch them grow. You weed. You chop. You hoe. You pick it, and then you sell it. It’s really amazing to see the whole process.” Hazel stressed the importance of this connection to food that’s good for us and the environment.

My second interview was with Robert Perry, a very wise person I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know here at the field site. Robert used to be the director of the program and continues to be on the Community Advisory Board for the field site while he focuses on other ventures. Robert is a conservationist through and through and brings that attitude into everything he does. Robert and his siblings inherited a large amount of land that their father farmed and are renting it to a family of organic farmers. Robert maintains a relationship with these folks and visits when he can. “We feel that we provide an oasis for the animals inhabiting the area to breathe and to grow without the impact of pesticides.”

The third person I interviewed was Uli Bennewitz, owner of Weeping Radish Farm Brewery. Uli is a genius in my book, but he would never label himself as such. In fact, Uli hates labels and even goes without calling his food “organic.” Uli grew up in Germany and went to school for agriculture in England, then brought his knowledge to North Carolina after graduating. He is a pioneer in the farm to fork movement, bring his brute honesty and creativity to an industry that’s losing both of those. “You either pay now or pay later, that’s what this is all about. The whole local food movement is all about spending more money upfront on your food and that’s the only way in the long-term that we are going to reduce healthcare costs.” Uli has a knack for making academics and politicians scratch their heads after hitting them with a truth bomb.

If you haven’t already gotten this from what I’ve written: I love what I’ve been doing! I’m gaining valuable perspective and meeting some amazing people along the way.  I’m finding that writing allows me to connect with people in both the process and the product. Also, how can I complain while I’m living and learning on the coast?


I like long walks on the beach, but sometimes I get crabby

As the date approached to move to Manteo for the fall semester, I was unsure about one thing: my internship placement. Like some of my classmates, I had no idea what I wanted for an internship. I knew that past students had been placed with environmental organizations, but that there was also a possibility I could complete a research project. My interests were broad: human ecology, management, and being outside a lot… so I was worried I might be placed in an internship I wasn’t interested in or be asked to develop my own research project from scratch because my interests weren’t specific enough.

Of course, I never should have worried. Thanks to our amazing internship coordinator, Corey Adams, we were all placed in great internships. Even though I probably made his job tough, he put in a lot of time to make sure that I had cool opportunities and options for my placement. I was able to score a research project with Dr. Lindsay Dubbs (the best; our assistant director for the OBXFS; coolest teacher at the field site) as my mentor and with the help of Dr. Reide Corbett, a geologist who teaches at ECU and is head of the Coastal Processes department at the Coastal Studies Institute.







My project is on ghost crabs- nocturnal creatures that live on the beach in burrows up to a meter deep. Ghost crabs are used as an indicator for the beach ecosystem because they are top predators and their populations fluctuate predictably with certain human influences. I really have enjoyed my project because it involves different types of research. I get to collect, decipher, and analyze historical data collected by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (over 20 years of data!), which involves making great connections with people who have been working in environmental monitoring and management since before I was born. I also get to sample ghost crab populations on the beach, which makes for some beautiful mornings. I spend most of my time at CSI, putting together the different pieces of my project and figuring out my next steps.

ghost crab
ghost crab

For the most part, I was responsible for determining my research questions and doing the work on my own. However, the basic concept for the project was developed by my mentors and they constantly provide me with feedback and advice. So, for anyone who is thinking about diving into a research experience, whether here at the field site or elsewhere, focus on finding great mentors who will help you develop a project and advise you along the way. The research community and process were daunting to me because I didn’t understand how projects and partnerships were created, but once you start gaining experience and getting ideas for what you want to do and like to do, it isn’t as scary.

what a sunrise
what a sunrise

A lot of work here at the field site is self-motivated- you get out what you put in. It’s working well for me because even though I’ve taken on a lot with my project, I’ve already gained so much experience and developed a project that I will continue after I leave the field site. I can’t thank my mentors and the staff here at the field site enough. They are invested in making our time here valuable and meaningful. Because of their work, I get to carry what I’ve started here with me to whatever I decide to do next.


-Caitlin Seyfried, Junior Environmental Science major from Greenville, NC

the end. seriously this dino got us all
the end. seriously, this dino got us all.

My Venture into Foiling Big Oil

Just a few short months ago I knew next to nothing about the proposed offshore oil development off the Atlantic coast. While it would’ve sounded like a step in the wrong direction for energy development, I had little proximity to the reality of the situation and reasons that you, hey there, reading this blog should also be opposed. Now though I could talk your ear off on all the different layers and complexities to the situation and frequently corral my fellow classmates into hearing my two cents.

The organization to thank for this change is the North Carolina Coastal Federation, a non-profit organization here in Manteo that I have been fortunate enough to intern with this semester. NCCF has three offices along the coast and three main focuses: preservation and restoration, education, and advocacy. My mentor, Ladd Bayliss, is the Coastal Federation’s lead on their goal of stopping offshore oil. A native of Manns Harbor and knowledgeable of seemingly all things about the area, Ladd’s cheerful and determined personality has allowed us to work well together on a sometimes hopeless seeming fight.

My work on the issue has ranged from compiling important information for a fact sheet to planning a movie screening on the BP oil spill.

Just recently I assisted Ladd in developing the offshore oil work plan for the next year. In January the federal government will release their Proposed Program for 2017-2022 and this will determine the next steps for NCCF depending on if the Atlantic Ocean is still included as a lease area. The big question we are figuring out together is the best way to engage people in the issue and sway public opinion. If drilling is allowed off the coast of North Carolina then everyone here in the Outer Banks will be affected, but not everyone realizes their personal stake in the matter.

Another aspect of the offshore oil issue that I have learned about is the seismic surveying that would occur before actual drilling. Seismic surveys send loud blasts of sound miles deep into the ocean to map the ocean floor and determine the location of oil and gas reserves. If seismic surveying occurred in the Atlantic it would have detrimental affects on marine mammals’ ability to communicate and could harm fish populations in an area dependent on the fishing industry.

Currently, Ladd and I are working especially on ways to foster opposition within the commercial fishing community by comparing fishing regulations to the proposed regulations on the seismic surveyors.

Interning with the Coastal Federation has helped me tremendously in determining where I’d like to go from here and how I’d like to work on environmental issues. Going into this semester all I knew was that I wanted to gain an insight into the non-profit perspective and gain experience working with the public on issues. Now I have a deep appreciation for community-involved environmental advocacy. To progress to better environmental management I have learned it is essential to understand the area where you are and the people who make it what it is in order to find a common ground and a common voice.


Hey guys, I’m Claire and this semester I’m working with the Outer Banks Center For Dolphin Research (OBXCDR) under my mentor, Jess Taylor. The organization was founded in 2008, by Jess, and it is committed to the conservation of bottlenose dolphins here in the northern Outer Banks.

The dolphins that our research focuses on are the coastal ecotype that mainly inhabits the estuarine waters of the Roanoke and Croatan sounds in the summer months, June through August. To keep track of the population here, OBXCDR photographs the dolphins’ dorsal fins, which are unique to each individual (notches and chunks are taken out throughout a dolphin’s lifetime). Photos are then uploaded to FinBase, a national database developed and sponsored by NOAA to protect and manage our nation’s dolphin population. Photos are collected on dedicated surveys, which happen twice a month, or on the Nags Head Dolphin Watch tours, which only operate during the tourist season. Each time a sighting occurs, we also collect various environmental data such as surface water temperature, wind speed, direction the group is heading, activity state, location, etc.

Now this brings me to my research! I’m studying all the data acquired from 2008 to 2014 to see if there is an upper temperature threshold for the dolphins in the sound (basically seeing if the water ever gets too hot for the dolphins). Although this seems like a simple enough question, not a whole lot is known about whether there is a correlation between water temperature and dolphin numbers.

A lot of my research involves looking at spreadsheets and doing statistical analyses, but I also get to do the fun stuff, like going out on daylong surveys looking for dolphins and photographing them. They really are a charismatic bunch—they love to play and swim in the wake of the boat, sometimes they even jump out of the water or swim on their backs! I also volunteer at local events like the March of Dimes or the organization’s annual fundraising event, the Shrimp Cook Off (all you can eat shrimp for only $20!). There, I get to teach people about dolphins in general as well as my research. It’s a very rewarding experience that I’ll be very sad to leave come December, but who knows, maybe I’ll come back to volunteer next summer!

Bees, Butterflies, BMPs, oh my!

This semester I’m interning with the US Fish and Wildlife Service and focusing on pollinator best management practices. So what exactly are all these things? The US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is an extremely large government organization, and the National Wildlife Refuges are part of it. I’m based in the Alligator River Wildlife Refuge Visitor’s Center in Manteo. The mission of the National Wildlife Refuges is to: “administer a nation

al network of lands and waters for the conservation, management, and where appropriate, restoration of the fish, wildlife, and plant resources and their habitats within the United States for the benefit of present and future generations of Americans.” Essentially, this is done through management of the environment.

Best management practices (BMPs) are well-designed tools that allow USFWS to manage the environment in the best possible manner and may target specific species, such as pollinators. Basically, pollinators are any type of organisms that pollinate plants. The best examples are bees, butterflies, bats, hummingbirds, moths, and beetles. And, if you’re up to date on your pollinator news, you know that our superstar bee populations are in rapid decline. They’ve created so much buzz that the White House even released a report and strategy in May 2015 to increase the bee and pollinator populations!

Leading this movement from Alligator River Wildlife Refuge is my mentor Becky Harrison. Becky is the Assistant Coordinator of the Red Wolf Recovery Program and the Southeast Regional Pollinator Coordinator. I couldn’t have asked for a better mentor. Through a series of long car rides, we’ve been able to get to know each other on a professional and personal level, and that is something I wasn’t sure if I could expect or not back in September. We’ve had a lot of ground to cover, but I think we make a good team.

The “Southeast Region” goes from NC to Texas and includes the Caribbean, but our focus for this project is in Northeastern North Carolina. We’ve spent the semester visiting Wildlife Refuges in the area, including Alligator River, Mackay Island, Mattamaskeet, Pocosin Lakes, Roanoke River, and the Edenton Hatchery, and assessing their management practices in terms of pollinators. Incredibly, all of these refuges have pollinator gardens and are ready to take on the challenge of increasing pollinator populations and education.

I consider myself lucky to have seen such a vast array of northeastern North Carolina environments, and not all students have been able to do that. Currently, I’m in the process of compiling all the information we collected from meetings with the various refuges. My final product will be a report highlighting pollinator management practices already in place and BMP recommendations for the future. I will also create a factsheet on pollinator BMPs in the refuges as well. Bee on the lookout!

This internship has given me experience in the office and the field, the perfect combination for someone who can’t sit still very long. I’ve met many members of the community here and worked on other pollinator projects as well, which was a huge bonus in the world of internships. Not only have I leaned about pollinators, BMPs, but I’m also able to identify more native plants in this area than I would have without this internship. And if I’ve learned anything this semester, it’s that we need to encourage planting native plants! It’s a simple way help your pollinators out and beautify the world around you.

There Might Actually be Nothing I Haven’t Done at my Internship

Hey y’all! I’m Brady Blackburn, one of the students studying at the Outer Banks Field Site this semester. All of us here are interning with several different organizations, and I think mine just might be in the running with Cinnamon’s for the “best internship of the year award.”

My internship experience is like a breakfast buffet. I get to sample everything I like…but I have to wake up early to go to it.

I’m splitting my time between two different organizations—North Carolina Sea Grant and The Nature Conservancy—because I gave Corey Adams, the internship coordinator here, the difficult task of finding something where I can hone my writing skills and work outside. Those two unfortunately don’t fit together very well.

At Sea Grant I’m blogging about our oyster aquaculture capstone project. I’m working with E-Ching Lee, their managing editor, to write articles every couple weeks about the process and results of our study. It is a great experience in the field that I eventually want to go into when I graduate. Better yet, I get to write and then turn around and go outside.

With the Nature Conservancy, I’m working with Aaron McCall, the northeast regional steward for North Carolina at the Nags Head Woods Ecological Preserve. I get to do a little bit of everything on this side of my internship—from trail maintenance to researching fresh water pond management practices.

Just last week, I cut trees along the power line that runs through the Conservancy’s property, re-painted a section of a shed, and worked on writing an advertisement article all in one day.

I’ve also gotten to help measure tree growth in the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge, build and install wells to measure water level in the Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, and much more.

So, as you can see, I’m getting the $10.98 all-you-can-eat special out of this internship experience.

I Won Best Internship of The Year Award (Unofficially)

So by this time, you all may be wondering why I’ve been writing these blog posts all semester. Short answer, it’s part of my job for my internship.

Longish answer, the hope is that by writing these posts, all of you who are interested in OBXFS get a snapshot of just what it is we’re doing over here in the eastern most part of the country. Spoiler alert: it’s some pretty awesome shenanigans.

Anyways, back to my internship. Lindsay and Corey Adams, the internship coordinator at OBXFS, placed me in the perfect internship while I was here. Working under John McCord at the Coastal Studies Institute (CSI), I’ve been spending the semester writing these (hopefully) informational blog posts, press releases for John and for the field site, and recreating the incredibly dated website for CSI.

I’m going to be completely upfront with you. When I found out I was revamping an entire website, I thought these people had lost their minds.

Fun fact: technology hates me. Always has and probably always will.

Luckily, John has been incredibly patient with me and has been super helpful in getting me in contact with people who actually know what they’re doing. So far, it’s been going pretty well with minimal yelling at the computer screen!


An awesome part of recreating the website has been interviewing the staff members at CSI and hearing about their research areas so that I can translate their work to specific pages on the site. The people here are absolutely incredible. All of them are involved in an array of projects and they pretty much make me feel like I need to get my life together and cure world cancer or something.

For instance, Lindsay our assistant director, is working on a gulf stream study to see if there’s potential for harnessing the energy of the current and using it as a renewable energy source. How cool is that?!

My hope is to help John finish the website by the end of the year and then launch the final product by January (fingers crossed.) I’m not gonna lie, there’s probably going to do a victory dance when this is over.

Another fun part has been these posts. I’ve actually had a really great time writing, putting my words online, and then hearing that people are actually reading my work. So that you’re reading this right now, whoever you are, is freaking awesome!

John has also been great to work for. The guy is involved in about 20 different things at any given time and he geeks out about stuff as much as I do, which I really appreciate. Except, a lot of his excitement stems from technology so more power to him…

And that is what I’ve been doing here at CSI all semester. It’s a lot of work, it’s been super stressful, but I’ve absolutely loved every second of it. Honestly, working for John and spending the semester doing all of this has made me fall back in love with writing. Papers upon papers at college can get kind of tedious, but writing about what I’m interested in has been…fun. This has been one of the few times where I’ve loved busting my butt day in and day out and not minded the hours spent staring at a computer screen.

At the end of the day, OBXFS has been a dream come true for me. I’m so lucky to have been given the opportunity to do what I’m passionate about. (Insert stepping off my soapbox)

Oh and a huge shoutout to Lindsay, Corey, and John for an awesome semester!

XOXO A Grateful and Happily Exhausted OBXFS Student

Best Field Trip EVER

Now that is a day well spent
Now that is a day well spent

So, I recently just went on the coolest field trip of my nearly 16 years of schooling. Jeez that makes me feel old…

Christy showing proper paddle technique
Christy showing proper paddle technique

For our ecology class, Lindsay took us kayaking up Lake Drummond, one of two freshwater lakes in Virginia, to learn about coastal wetland habitats. For those of you who have never been to the Great Dismal Swamp (where Lake Drummond is located), 10 out of 10 would recommend. It’s absolutely ah-mazing.

Also, shoutout to Lindsay for being in her third trimester of pregnancy and kayaking for about 9 miles. Future life goals right there.

Fun history fact: back in the day, people used the word dismal to refer to swamps, so “dismal swamp” literally means swamp swamp. Things in life that make you go hmm…

Bland teaching on the go
Bland teaching on the go

Speaking of history, Bland Simpson, a professor at UNC Chapel Hill, led our wetlands tour and made it even more of a great experience than it already was. The man is a natural born storyteller. He even has his own bonafide book about the Great Dismal Swamp and everything. Some of the stories he told from his time there are pretty interesting and hilarious as well. If you ever meet him, definitely ask about the bear and the tiny little car!


So, during this adventure, we paddled up the lake canals about 3 and a half miles, had lunch at a charming little picnic locale, and then paddled about another half a mile to the lake basin.

Fun ecology fact (man it was an interesting day): Lake Drummond is a pocosin, or swamp on a hill, which means that it’s at a higher elevation than the rest of the area; so this big circular lake can drain into the canals and then flow into the ocean because it happen to form “on a hill.” What?!

See what great pictures you make when you smile Brady?
See what great pictures you make when you smile Brady?

Back to us on the lake, it was gorgeous. Like, one of those moments in life that make you pause and really appreciate how incredible nature is. We paddled out into this huge open, circular expanse of water with the opposite shoreline a mere pinpoint on the other side.

It was like being in a big, tea-colored swimming pool. Except way cooler because well, nature.


IMG_4964Once we tired ourselves out from paddling around like maniacs, we all gathered together in a kayak tortilla and Bland read us a ballad written by Thomas Moore about a ghost story on the swamp. Because who doesn’t love a good ghost story?!

I mean…probably not late at night in the dark but it was totally fine while the sun was shining and I was in the middle of our kayak group. So I’m kind of a wimp?

Also, the ballad is called A Ballad: The Great Dismal Swamp. The title is lacking a bit of originality, but it’s a great ballad as far as ballads go. Or at least I thought so.

Nature's so cool!
“Nature’s so cool!”

Afterwards, he talked about how important the wetlands were, the history of the swamp, and how he spent a huge portion of his life studying them. It was incredibly interesting and awesome to be able to physically see what he was talking about. I now have quite an appreciation for how important and misunderstood these areas are.

Whew. I’m telling you, this field site gets me fired up about the environment.


Just taking a casual break from learning
Just taking a casual break from learning

But anyways, that’s how we spent our Friday- kayaking and learning about the environment around us. Then we all went home, ate anything we could get our hands on, and passed out by 10 o’clock. Learning’s hard work…




XOXO Someone Who Just Developed a New Found Love of Kayaking