Let me tell you about my internship this fall! I am interning with Scott Crocker, northern site manager, at the North Carolina Coastal Reserve and National Estuarine Research Reserve. This semester we have been working on a couple of different projects on Currituck Banks Reserve. Two of the biggest projects have been monitoring invasive animals and water quality of the Outer Banks.
Back in September I started taking measurements from different access point along the sound from Nag’s Head to Corolla. With the passing of Hurricane Joaquin we were able to see some dramatic changes in the sound near Kill Devil Hills and Kitty Hawk. At the NC Wildlife boat ramp I usually measured salinity at around 5 parts per thousand (ppt). However, after the hurricane passed us soon after I recorded a measurement of 19 ppt. This is a huge different from the stable reading that I was recording. We are not sure why this happened at this area. We have some ideas of what could have happened but have not spent the time investigating the actual cause. At Currituck Banks Reserve I usually found that the water salinity was around 2 ppt. The salinity is low in the Currituck sound because it is far from any inlet. After the hurricane passed we found a salinity of .4ppt. This can be assumed that the influx of rain lowered the salinity. At each sample site once a month I collect water sample that we later put in a preservative so that a lab at North Carolina State University can analyze the plankton in the sample.
Within the Currituck Banks Reserve there is a significant problem with feral swine. These animals are responsible for destroying various types of habitat within the reserve. This reserve is unique in that the boundaries extend from the sound all the way to the first line of vegetation on the beachfront. This means that there are many different habitats within these boundaries. Feral Swine destruction has been found in each type of habitat. I have been using trail cameras to monitor the population. Each hog has different markings and I have been able to distinguish most of the hogs in this area.
In summation, I love what I am doing here on the Outer Banks of North Carolina! Even though I grew up on the coast of North Carolina it is remarkable to see how an almost untouched barrier island function! My experiences here have truly made me realize how dynamic barrier islands are!
My name is Coker Holmes, and I am a Senior Environmental Studies and Political Science double major. I came to OBXFS because I plan on studying environmental law and was attracted to the environmental economics and coastal law and policy classes of the program. This semester I have been interning at the Law Offices of Hornthal, Riley, Ellis & Maland, L.L.P., in Columbia, North Carolina. Columbia is a small town of 900 in Tyrrell County, NC on the Scuppernong River. This internship has given me a great perspective on what it is like to practice general law in rural North Carolina.
My internship mentor is David Gadd, JD, the firm’s partner who runs the Columbia office. He has a B.S. in Forestry Management from NC State and a law degree from Florida State University with a concentration in environmental and land use law. He has taken me under his wing and given me education and experience in his practice specialties, including environmental law and zoning/land use, criminal defense, local government, real estate development/transactions, and civil litigation. Mr. Gadd is always thinking of new legal matters he can expose me to and has always been eager to answer questions and teach me the nuances and history of North Carolina law.
In the office I have gained experience helping to draft a plethora of legal documents. Everything from Wills, Powers of Attorney, LLC Articles of Organization, Restraining Order reductions, Guardianship appointments for minors, real estate deeds, permitting documents for local agricultural drainage districts, etc. has fallen on my desk at some point this semester. Watching Mr. Gadd work in court has also been very educational. I have observed everything from restraining order and divorce proceedings to juvenile hearings to DWI and possession defense.
In addition to the Field Site’s environmental law and economics curriculum, this internship has given me a broad exposure to the field of law. As an undergraduate it can be difficult to get exposure and education in the legal field. I started the semester with only basic knowledge and interest in environmental law, but this internship has broadened my interest within the legal profession and given me a good idea of what it’s actually like to practice various forms of law. This has been a great experience and resume-builder that I would recommend for any environmental student interested in law.