Dare County Soil and Water Conservation District Internship

The Dare County Soil and Water Conservation District has been a great place to work for my internship this semester, despite not being sure who I am working for. The district is a county agency that is not even funded by the county but by the NC Coastal Federation and the State of North Carolina. Therefore I spent every Monday at the Coastal Federation offices in Wanchese and every other Wednesday at the Dare County satellite offices in Kitty Hawk. However the strange circumstances the that I operated under actually gave me a unique opportunity to get much more out of my time there than otherwise possible.

Each morning of my internship I headed in to my office for the day and settled in to work on my main project. Ann Daisey, my intrepid mentor for the semester and the only employee of the district, had me working on watershed restoration plan for the sound side beach at Jockey’s Ridge State Park. The only problem was that the plan itself, which she would submit the to EPA after I am long gone, was far to large a task for one intern a couple times a week. I therefore contributed what I couldĀ for the project, which was collecting and analyzing data for the watershed and getting the historical context for the area. This included collecting the bacterial data for the beach over the past 20 years, and then looking at the trends that cause the levels to rise so much as to cause a no swim advisory. In addition I collected historical aerial photographs to establish a baseline, created a stakeholder list for the whole watershed, and found zoning maps for the whole area.

The watershed restoration project wasn’t the only thing I did in my time with Ann. Spending much of my time at the Coastal Federation unexpectedly gave me look into the world of non-profits which I greatly appreciated. I even helped make the list of invitees to their economic development submit next year. In addition I helped out with another watershed project in southern shores, albeit in a much more reduced capacity. Some of the most interesting moments of my internship came from just being around the Coastal Federation and joining in on normal operations of the day. I helped educate some Manteo middle schoolers on water quality, and also helped bag oyster shells to be used in living shorelines projects. Little things like that, stuff that broke up the normal process of my main project, were some of the best parts of my time this semester.