Interning for the Pea Island Preservation Society

My Internship with the Pea Island Preservation Society!

Hello, My name is Francesca Fradianni, and I am a senior graduating this December! This semester, I’ve had the privilege of working with the Pea Island Preservation Society, a non-profit devoted to telling the story of the Pea Island lifesavers. Situated in Manteo, the original cookhouse has just two rooms, yet contains enough history to fill an entire museum. The Pea Island Station was the first and only life-saving station to have an all-black crew, when race relations in the south were a tumultuous and tempestuous issue. Through reconstruction and Jim Crow, this station thrived and worked to gain a name for itself, and saved people and cargo from the treacherous Graveyard of the Atlantic.

My role as an intern was to create content and infographics for the Pea Island Preservation Society. I researched various books, archives, and museums about the Pea Island station, and produced two infographics — One about Richard Etheridge (the first black keeper), and one about environmental issues that determined the livelihood and duties of the Pea Island lifesavers. I also produced a poster and other media for the 125th anniversary of the most famous rescue by Pea Island — The E.S. Newman. I really appreciated being able to have a creative outlet during this science-oriented semester, and I ended up being able to use all of the projects in my portfolio for both grad school and job applications!

The poster I made for the 125th anniversary event for the E.S. Newman posted in downtown Manteo!

The team at PIPS is small, but extremely effective. My mentor and the director of the Pea Island Preservation society, Joan Collins, has been one of the nicest and most welcoming people I’ve ever met. Since the very first day, she treated me with respect and made me feel like an important part of the team, and was integral to developing the content for the posters and infographics. Doug Stover is an incredible individual with astounding humor and humility who has helped immensely in my research of the history of the Pea Island Station. Coquetta Brooks is one of the coolest and brightest people I know, and has never been anything but extremely kind and supportive to me. Darrell Collins has been integral in checking my work for historical accuracy, and just like everyone else, has been a truly pleasant person to know. While these individuals had the greatest impact on my time as an intern, there are many other unsung heroes that contribute to the success of the Pea Island Preservation Society.

Doug, Joan, and Myself at the top of the Chicamacomico Lifesaving Station tower!


My time interning for Pea Island has been very rewarding and wholesome, and I’m very proud to have been able to contribute to an organization with such a focused and genuine mission in my final semester at UNC. Everyone involved does their work from the passion in the hearts, and they are deserving of all possible recognition and respect. If you want your internship experience to be close-knit, focused, and humanities-based, working with the Pea Island Preservation society could be for you!

– Francesca

Sitting on the steps of the lovely Pea Island Cookhouse Museum!

A Student’s Guide to the OBX

A Student’s Guide to the OBX

It is nearly impossible to write about just one single day or experience that I’ve had in the last three months living here in the Outer Banks. Since my arrival in Manteo, there have been many moments with my peers that I have committed to my memory, so I’ve decided to write about the ones that stand out the most to me. Here is a guide to memorable things you can do as a student in the outer banks field site!

A view of the sound at Pea Island Wildlife refuge. Salt marshes are one of my favorite ecosystems!

Go to the beach!

The first thing we did as a group was going to the beach after class on FDOC. We swam, sat on blankets and played cards, until the sun started going down. Jennette’s Pier is my favorite beach spot, where the sunset gives some of the most beautiful light on the pier pilings and shines through the waves. You can play Kadima, cards, or read and listen to music on warm summer evenings with the waves crashing in the background, surrounded by your friends.

Jennette’s Pier during golden hour!
Nathalie and Steve playing Kadima on the beach. It was a privilege to watch such athleticism!

Pick up bugs!

One of my favorite things to do during the break in between classes is to find all the cool bugs that reside around CSI!

We have a plethora of mantises, cicadas, locusts, and cool spiders! As long as you are careful and gentle, they won’t hurt you, and they make for such cute little friends! My personal favorite were the praying mantises, as they will walk across your hands and up your arms, or rest on your head!

Praying mantis hitching a ride on Kenan’s hat!
Mackenzie holding a praying mantis on campus!

Go stargazing and catch ghost crabs!

One of the most amazing things about the Outer Banks is the night sky. At Coquina beach, about 15 miles south of Jennette’s, you get some pretty dark night skies with the milky way visible! I loved putting down blankets and laying on our backs watching for shooting stars as they fly by. If you’re lucky, you will see thousands of ghost crabs covering the shoreline, and if your friends are really cool, they will teach you how to catch them!

Rebekah managed to catch two ghost crabs unassisted!

Have fun on field trips!

Take advantage of the interesting and unique field trips the field site will offer! We got to explore the entirety of Hatteras Island by going to different museums, checking out wildlife, and eating yummy food! We also got to conduct research down in Buxton, which was a really cool experience. Exploring Duck and Corolla was my favorite field trip. We got an in-depth tour of the town and went to museums and the Currituck lighthouse!  Afterward we kayaked through the marshes, watched wild horses from the back of a truck, and ate some really good pizza.

Steve and Joseph taking a nice relaxing paddle in Corolla.
Jason, Blakely, Steve, Nathalie, Cathy, Jane, and Rebekah all suited up to traverse our maritime forest, Buxton Woods!

Do something fun for fall break!

Most of us ended up camping at Jane’s farm in Maryland for fall break, a lovely retreat from the hustle and bustle of school and beach. We were able to go to D.C and visit lots of museums and eat delicious food! We had lovely fireside chats every night, and had fun with archery, crabbing, petting farm animals, and various other ventures.

Jane taking us for a joy ride in the Gator!
Anna holding a blue crab that we caught in a crab pot on the Potomac River!

Participate in spooky season!

We went to Island Farm and picked out our pumpkins for carving! We carved our pumpkins all together on the porch and it was really fun to see everyone’s creativity take form through their jack o’ lanterns! Wanchese woods –a haunted trail in the forest of East Lake– was another fun and spooky activity! We went in small groups, where Steve and Joseph showed us their vulnerable sides as they screamed throughout the horrifying maze. We watched several scary movies in the month of October, and finished on a high note by watching The Shining in our costumes on halloween night.

Blakely, Anna, and Nathalie with their prized pumpkins at Island Farm!
Joseph posing for a snap with his new friend, nightmare jester!

Visit Ocracoke!

This past Friday, we had a field trip to Ocracoke Island! We piled into the van at 7 am and headed down to Hatteras to board the ferry. It turned out there was a nasty Nor’easter in town, and the ferries for the weekend were all cancelled, so getting there was the easy part but the prospect of getting back out that evening was unknown. We decided that Eduardo’s, a delicious Mexican food truck, was worth the risk of getting stranded on an island for the weekend. Despite some gnarly waves and gale-force winds, we saw dolphins swimming and jumping  out of the water directly in front of us at the bow of the ferry, making it all worth the while.

A very poor photograph of a bottlenose dolphin swimming in front of the ferry to Ocracoke!
Rebekah soaking up the sun and letting the wind flow through her hair on the ferry!

Make new friends!

The people are by far the best part of living in the Outer Banks for the semester. I had some doubts about moving to a new place to live with a bunch of strangers, but it has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Every single person here has something special to offer, and each has their own set of unique qualities that are well worth getting to know. As soon as I got here, I was sad that I would have to leave at some point, but I am going to cherish this place and the people I am fortunate enough to call my friends until I have to go.

Kenan, Anna, Nathalie, and Rebekah climbing a large live oak tree in Corolla!
Jane wrangled a locust in the tall grasses of CSI!
Jane and Anna shaping up Steve’s luxurious locks!