A Week of Firsts

With orientation solidly in the rear view, the thirteen field site students faced the perpetually daunting task of getting back to class after a hot summer and a long labor day weekend. Tuesday brought plentiful classroom time, reminding us all that while the beach is only a quick trip across the bridge away, we are, in fact, here for school! That Tuesday night we attended our very first (and significantly less terrifying than originally expected) CAB meeting, which Mark discussed in his previous post. I personally had interesting dinner conversations with Heidi Wadman from the Army Corps of Engineers, and Mathew Price, a coastal developer. After a very full first day, everyone headed home eager to face the next first of the week–internships!

The Emilys enjoying a beautiful post-CAB meeting sunset

Wednesday morning rolled around and it was time for the squad to split up, all heading our separate ways. From excavating sea turtle nests and completing dolphin surveys to attending town board meetings, it’s safe to say that everyone had a unique first day on the job! More to come on those internships later as each of us will be explaining our adventures in individual posts. Thursday brought in a new day of classes along with beautiful weather. [Specifics on the material covered in class?] With the afternoon free, we spent our free time volunteering at the Dare County Animal Shelter, working on our plot at the community garden, and taking some much appreciated nap and Netflix time. Coming back together later that evening, a couple of us took on (an Andy Keeler favorite and an Outer Banks classic) Food Dudes Taco Thursday. Fried avocado tacos and coconut shrimp tacos were both fan favorites of the evening as we headed off to bed before a sure-to-be-exciting first Friday of field work.

Friday morning was our first day of field work for our capstone project! We set our sights on two living shoreline projects for various tests which included soil cores, biomass analysis, salinity measurements, and measures of other ecological variables. As it turns out, trial and error is a huge part of scientific field work… our soil cores didn’t come out quite as well as originally anticipated, but we still gathered valuable data and knowledge to make our next attempt at data collection go more.. smoothly. We also got to visit two living shoreline projects and see the concept in action, in addition to showing off some super fancy waders. (modeled below)

Making observations about the living shoreline at Jockey’s Ridge
Stellar display of the utility of waders and waterproof research equipment

As always, Friday night provided the perfect time for some group shenanigans! We started the night with chips and salsa on the porch because the weather was absolutely beautiful. Afterwards, we piled in our cars and made our way to Mutiny Bay where we proceeded to played a mean round of mini golf. Mark was the winner, but Emily P. was a close second; unfortunately, Kurt lost. Bianca got so many hole-in-ones that she ~won~ a stuffed shark named Chantel. We really bonded over our sporty endeavor and decided to go to sonic to refuel. Overall, the night was full of wholesome fun and laughter.