Lichen that Lichen

Photo Cred to India Mackinson

This past week, we took a trip to Ocracoke for an overnight retreat. One of the things that we did while on our retreat was tour Portsmouth Island, an abandoned settlement across Ocracoke Inlet. The town was primarily a fishing village and had a peak population of approximately 680 but a combination of economic and environmental hardships steadily forced people off the island. The last residents left the island in 1971 and since then the island has been a historic site with some standing building for tourists, OBXers, and ex-Portsmouth residents to visit.

The island is home to a very prominent maritime forest as well and within the forest, there are lichens carpeting the ground. To be honest, I barely knew what lichens were when we got to the island but I was intrigued by them when I saw them. Therefore, I decided to look into their ecology so that I could better understand their value to ecosystems.

At first glance, I think most can recognize that lichens are a sort of fungus and that is partly true. Lichens are actually a symbiotic relationship between fungi and algae or in some cases, cyanobacteria, and are an important part of the biological soil crust (Ahmadjian, 2017).  In the relationship, the algae or cyanobacteria photosynthesizes while the fungi works in the acquisition of water and nutrients (Luecking, 2016). They are found across all terrestrial habitats and can also be found in aquatic and marine habitats. Lichens are known for being able to thrive in the harshest of regions, such as boreal forests, on any kind of inanimate object and play a large role in the wellbeing of these ecosystems (Ahmadjian, 2017). Much of the research that has been done on lichens has been on the European and North American continents and so there is still a lot unknown about the ecology of lichens (Will-Wolf, 2006). Although, studies do theorize that there are a similar number of species in all kinds of regions (Luecking, 2016) It is known that they offer significant habitat and food for invertebrates and small vertebrates in harsh ecosystems too (Zedda and Rambold, 2015).

Furthermore, lichens have ecological value as bioindicators and biomonitors of pollution and air quality (Jovan, 2008). Studies show that lichens are very sensitive to air pollution and so many people have begun using them as a way to monitor for specific pollutants and overall air quality. The presence of lichens on Portsmouth could point to this trait of lichens since the island is largely cut off from human disturbances. Lichens have also been found to be a cheaper way to monitor air quality than most conventional methods (Luecking, 2016). Lastly, since lichens are so sensitive to environmental change and anthropogenic impacts, they have been cited as a good indicator of climate change (Aptroot, 2009).

At face value, lichens seemed to be just an aesthetically pleasing part of the ecosystem on Portsmouth Island. But after some research, it is clear to me that they play a much larger role within the island’s maritime forest and the global ecosystems.

Works Cited:

Ahmadjian, Vernon. (2017). Lichens. In AccessScience. McGraw-Hill Education. https://doi-org.libproxy.lib.unc.edu/10.1036/1097-8542.380500

Aptroot, A. (2009). Lichens as an indicator of climate and global change. In Climate change: Observed impacts on Planet Earth. Edited by T. M. Letcher, 401–408. Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Elsevier B.V

Jovan, S. (2008). Lichen bioindication of biodiversity, air quality, and climate: baseline results from monitoring in Washington, Oregon, and California. Portland, OR: U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station.

Luecking R., Will-Wolf S. (2016). Lichen Ecology. Oxford Bibliographies on Ecology. Oxford University Press.

Will-Wolf, S., L. H. Geiser, P. Neitlich, and A. Reis. (2006). Comparison of lichen community composition with environmental variables at regional and subregional geographic scales. In Journal of Vegetation Science.

Zedda L., Rambold G. (2015) The Diversity of Lichenised Fungi: Ecosystem Functions and Ecosystem Services. In: Upreti D., Divakar P., Shukla V., Bajpai R. (eds) Recent Advances in Lichenology. Springer, New Delhi

 

Dropping Temperatures, Rising Workload

Hello from the Outer Banks!

As the temperature is dropping, our workload is rising here in Manteo. With internship presentations coming up, a Community Advisory Board to impress, capstone research to complete, and birthdays to celebrate – there has been no time to waste! Even though we’ve been super busy, we were all still looking forward to our Ocracoke retreat…but it got canceled! (hopefully rescheduled) The weather is to blame here – and that completes the hat trick of altered retreats due to weather! Regardless of that bittersweet reality, there’s still much to report.

Marcia Cline’s “Sunset” size: 2 ft x 4 ft

Monday was an exciting day at my internship at the Dare County Arts Council. We got three new teachers signed up to teach Power of Art classes in 2018, I opened up some awesome new fused glass supplies, and I helped finish hanging a new exhibit in the gallery! The artist’s name is Marcia Cline, and she paints beautiful scenes from around the Outer Banks.

(from left) India, Amelia, Tara, Danielle, Bianca, Mark, and Saxophone-Brett pose behind the movie station

Monday was also Emily Pierce’s birthday. We welcomed her into the early-twenties club with Brett’s surprise saxophone solo (it was also national saxophone day) to the tune of happy birthday, a  sizable cookie-brownie cake, and a resourceful movie-watching area for her favorite movie ever: Mamma Mia! (we all still have ABBA stuck in our heads).

Steve Trowell discussed the CAMA/Dredge and Fill General Permit 7H.2700 in his presentation on living shoreline permitting

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday brought the unfortunate news of the Ocracoke Retreat’s cancellation, but Steve Trowell from the NC Division of Coastal Management helped us through it with a fresh take on Living Shorelines. He elaborated on the intricacies of, advances in, and future goals for streamlining the permitting process for living shorelines in North Carolina.

Core samples on-deck for processing

 

Wednesday became a field collection day (instead of an Ocracoke day) and everyone dispersed to various capstone gas sample collection sites. It was a cold and rainy day, but most groups found sampling success…most. Paris, Tara and Mark drove all the way to Hatteras only to find that the sample sites were flooded, so they came home empty handed 🙁  On the other hand, we devised an efficient system to process core samples, and it’s been going well!

 

Tara stares down the pins, Brett gets too excited about his turn, Kurt stays bitter about his score, and everyone else keeps having fun!

 

 

On Thursday we started working on a group code-book to use in analyzing our interviews for the human-dimension aspect of our capstone work. The code-book wasn’t finished that same day, but since everyone had worked really hard, we went out for a well-deserved night of group bowling!

Featuring Tara and Brett: a dramatized re-enactment of what it mentally felt like while finalizing a group code-book

 

 

On Friday, a few of us wrestled to the finish line and completed the code-book in a stressful but productive two hours.

It’s always an exciting time here with the OBXFS2017 crew – tune back in next week and see what we’re up to then…thanks for reading!

 

 

A Wild Semester at the Center for Wildlife Education!

Hey, everyone! It’s Cassandra, here to tell you all about

An injured sanderling that was brought in to the Center

the best internship anyone’s every had here at the OBXFS, also known as an internship at the Outer Banks Center for Wildlife Education. By best, I mean that everyone I’ve worked with has been amazing, I’ve learned so much, and I’ve really never felt like what I’m doing is work. As well, just to point out how much I’ve enjoyed it, it’s generally an hour and fifteen minute drive from Manteo to the Center, and I can’t even complain about that!

Let me take a moment to talk about my internship mentor, Karen Clark. My first day interning, she invited me to sit in on a NEST sea turtle nest dig the next evening. Just like that. She always has great stories and great ideas, and is the most understanding, knowledgeable, and competent person I’ve ever met. She’s the Coordinator for the entire Center program, and also works with NEST and MMSN, the Marine Mammal Stranding Network, on top of who knows what else. Long story short, I’ve been incredibly lucky to have worked with her and to have been able to learn from her amazing experiences.

One of the storage shed’s resident tree frogs
Woody the woodchuck takes a beating during archery class

I’ve done a ton during my time here. At the start of my internship, we were still in summer programs, so I helped teach beginning archery for children and adults, an educational story time and crafts for young children and an interactive cart teaching people about seashells and other beach finds. I was also lucky enough to be able to participate in a lot of NEST activities, like checking turtle nests with volunteers and sitting in on nest digs. As the tourism season started winding down, some of our classes were rotated out, and I began helping run a kayaking trip, an educational maritime forest walk, and a “Sampling the Sound” class, where kids and their parents can use nets to catch fish, water insects, and other organisms living in the water here and learn more about them. I’ve also been able to help set up and collect wildlife cameras in the nearby maritime forest preserve, and then go through the photos to identify what sorts of critters have been living their lives in the area! Among the best photos I’ve seen are pictures of feral horses, coyotes, raccoons, and several resident white-tailed deer.

An injured box turtle I rushed to the vet
Baby sea turtles!
A very unhappy black rat

On top of helping out with classes and activities, I also was put in charge of designing a new educational board as my own personal project. I chose to focus on the habitat value of both ocean and sound shorelines, with an interactive and multi-media approach, using flip-up cards, fabrics, and 3-D animal cutouts to create the final product. Hopefully people will see it as a fun and interesting approach to learning more about the animals that call the marshes, dunes, and waters of the Outer Banks home!

A beautiful cottonmouth spotted on one of our kayaking trips!

Although I’ve really enjoyed and learned from all of the educational activities I’ve helped run and participate in, my favorite part of my internship here has been the wildlife. Anyone in my field site group will tell you I adore snakes, and there have been so many here! From cottonmouths on the lawn to black rats sunning themselves on the steps, I’ve been able to get a ton of great photos and just appreciate having them here. There are also resident tree frogs in the shed, and a gray fox that I’ve been lucky enough to glimpse on occasion. The grounds here are home to a great many raccoons, and you can see their tracks running across the mud by the boat ramp every morning. Being able to see and be a part of nature here while helping teach other people, especially children, more about the world we live in has been an eye-opening experience, and has definitely made me consider environmental education as a career path more strongly than I might have before.

Boat Days are Better than Field Trips

Week of 9/11-9/15/17

Hey, y’all! This is Cassandra, writing to tell you all about how miserable (read: exciting), exhausting (as in exhilarating), and completely dreadful (meaning absolutely and positively amazing) the second real week of classes here at the OBX Field Site has been! I’m going to start off by giving props to Corey Adams, our internship coordinator, for setting me up with the most amazing program I could have asked for; I’m at the Outer Banks Center for Wildlife Education, which means on Monday I got to set up wildlife cameras, learn about sea turtle strandings, and help create a trail for the Center’s new herping expedition! If that isn’t cool enough, some of my other duties include story time and teaching kids archery.

My internship mentor invited me to come to a sea turtle nest dig on my second day!

Tuesdays and Thursdays are when we take “actual” classes, all of which have so far been both interesting and relevant in terms of this area and environmental topics in general. Since we are only in the second week, much of the material has been introductory, but I’m definitely already learning a lot, and having such a small class size means that we are all able to get clarification when we need to, which is great compared to many of the huge lectures I’ve taken in the past. However, this Wednesday we had our first intensive Capstone day, and by intensive, I mean INTENSIVE. It’s really incredible to me how much a group of people can get done in a single day when we all work together. Right now, we’re working in two different directions: learning how to conduct qualitative interviews and write an interview guide on one side, and planning our ecological sampling methods and testing them out to see what will work best for our sampling sites on the other. We started off with an interview workshop, then took a mini field trip to the living shoreline at Festival Island Park, where we tried out different potential sampling methods and ate our lunches on the boardwalk. Finally, we returned to CSI for a second interview workshop, and left for the evening with a far better understanding of how our interviews are going to work and what we need to do now.

As you can see, we all rocked our waders and enjoyed the break between interview workshops to go to Roanoke Island’s Festival Island Park for sampling practice.

In the spirit of ending the week on an especially high note, this Friday we took a boat trip around the Roanoke Sound in order to practice different water measurement and sampling methods, as well as to get a firsthand look at an oyster aquaculture facility in the area. We definitely learned a lot about different measurement methods and tools, how much water quality can vary, and how to handle some extremely expensive equipment, but I think it’s safe to say that our educational drive momentarily disappeared when we encountered a pod of dolphins, not once, but twice! There was also time built in to explore an island near CSI and take a dip in the Sound. The day was a blast, and our professors and faculty know exactly how to plan a trip that’s a lot of fun while still giving us research skills and educating us along the way!

I have high hopes for the rest of the semester, but this week was a winner. I’m so grateful to have been accepted into this program and can’t wait to see what we do next!

Spotting dolphins in the Sound!
Some of the equipment we used to test water parameters including salinity, turbidity, and oxygen content.

Manteo to CSI (and Jennette’s)

Orientation

For the first two weeks of our semester, we were on an orientation schedule in which classes did not meet regularly and we were guided through trips and presentations that acquainted us with our surroundings and our course of study and also encouraged us to take time to explore the area ourselves.  Here are several of the elements of orientation that were most meaningful to me.

First Day Activities

Solar Eclipse

Our very first day at the Coastal Studies Institute coincided with the solar eclipse.  We all got eclipse glasses and were able to watch from the front patio of the building.  We observed as the sky changed shade to a deeper blue, the vegetation cast crescent-shaped shadows, and our own shadows on the concrete started to look a bit fuzzy.  Supposedly we viewed over ninety percent of the sun being covered by the moon, though that meant we still had to keep our glasses on the whole time and it never really got close to darkness.

Solar Eclipse Gazing
Students watching the solar eclipse in front of CSI on our first day of orientation

Jennette’s Pier

Shortly after the peak of the eclipse we drove out to Jennette’s Pier where we participated in a class called “Catch it, Clean it, Cook it”.  We learned how to fish from the pier and fish that we caught that were big enough to eat were saved for preparation and consumption on site.  I caught two fish that were not suitable for eating and threw them back in the water.  India was lucky enough to catch two sizable atlantic spadefish.  Since then, some groups of students have taken trips back to the beach next to Jennette’s Pier to catch ghost crabs after dark and to watch a world-class professional surfing competition.

Adding raw shrimp as bait
Waiting for a pull on the line

Cleaning a fish I did not catch

Roanoke Island Exploration

Scavenger Hunt

One of our tasks during orientation was to do a photo scavenger hunt that prompted us to familiarize ourselves with the human ecology of the area.  A unique part of my experience at the field site is that I do not have a car.  Because I wanted to work on this project independently, most of my photos were taken on a kick scooter trip I took around Manteo.  We were prompted to find evidence of development pressure; my response is below.

New development with a recently installed bulkhead near the end of Scuppernong Road

New Route

As previously mentioned, I do not have a car this semester and while it is easy to hitch a ride with a classmate in the mornings to the Coastal Studies Institute or elsewhere at other times, I sometimes do want to travel on my own or get in a little exercise on the commute.  Until this year, it was not feasible for students to bike to CSI due to the lack of an adequate shoulder past the Highway 64 Bypass.  Now a path is finally completed that runs from the Dare County Government Complex to CSI entirely on trails and back roads.  Back in Chapel Hill last semester, Lindsay brought up this exciting development and I was eager to check it out as soon as possible.  Even before I arrived in Manteo, I looked online for a map to see where the trail was and how I could navigate it.  There were no maps or directions on the Dare County website or popular map sites like Google Maps or TrailLink  I could not even find any mention of the trail in local news or public records online.  Fortunately, Tara had already scouted out the trail early in the first week, I think with the help of one of our instructors, and she was able to show me the way.  Still, I wish there was more publicly available information about this wonderful trail so that it could be used by people who need to commute to CSI as well as fitness and nature enthusiasts.  I decided to make a map of the route from the Friends of Elizabeth II Guesthouse, where we live, to the Coastal Studies Institute.  It is relatively simple right now and mainly includes the turns and landmarks, but I have taken photos along the route as well and would like to include them eventually.  I hope to also submit the data I have collected and will continue to collect for inclusion in the trail databases I had previously searched unsuccessfully.

WEB ADDRESS FOR TRAIL MAP: bit.ly/csitrail

An image of the map I created of the route between the Coastal Studies Institute and the guesthouse

First Day of Classes

This past week marked our first real week of classes. After a hardly deserved but much appreciated three day weekend of lazy beach days and thankfully not contracting norovirus, we met Tuesday morning at CSI for Econ, Coastal Management, and to decide on topics for our capstone research project.

Posing for a group selfie before the presentation at the CAB meeting. George looking extra dapper as always.

Tuesday night was our first community advisory board meeting. We met at the NC Coastal Federation building for dinner and a brief presentation on our experience on the outer banks thus far. Paris, Brett, Emily P., and Bianca all bravely took one for the team and gave the presentation. As Kurt would say, it was electric. After the presentation we mingled with the advisory board members over a dinner of stuffed portabellas and asparagus, kindly arranged by Lindsay to meet as many of our group’s varying dietary restrictions as possible.

Sunset over the sound behind CSI. On the Kurt scale of “toof” to “dopamine”, this sunset was a solid “big for the program”.

After dinner we left the Coastal Federation and went back into Manteo to enjoy the rest of our Tuesday evening. Here at the OBXFS we have taken a liking to several evening and night time activities. Sunsets at CSI, beach fires, and as Kurt would say just boolin’ at the

Amelia, Brett, Danielle, and Emily P. practice poor fire safety as they leave a most certainly flammable cardboard box of graham crackers way too close to the fire.

guest house have been the staple of many a night. Overall I think our first day of classes was a success.

Let it Grow!

It’s no secret that I love gardening. I really enjoy being able to grow good food right out of the ground and then sharing that love with other people.

This lovely sign welcomes you to the garden
This lovely sign welcomes you to the garden

Thanks to Robert Perry, former director of the field site and a member of the community advisory board, we got our own look into local agriculture systems this semester with a plot in the Roanoke Island Community Garden.

In the beginning of the semester, Robert showed us the community garden — a conglomeration of garden plots and communal fruit trees (and a bee hive!) near a wooded area in Manteo — and a plot that we could call our very own. The plot was covered in grass, so we had a lot of work ahead of us. The first few work days involved clearing out the grass, putting down compost and (hand) tilling up the land. Then, we got to plant our first seeds.

Tamara, Alex and Jack helping to clear the plot
Tamara, Alex and Jack helping clear the plot

We planted a lot of things, including beans, spinach, broccoli, kale, collards, bok choy, herbs and mustard spinach, and a few of us made the short trip to the garden (it’s practically next door!) a couple times a week to water and tend to our baby plants. Unfortunately, a few tropical storms and Hurricane Matthew (maybe you heard about it) wiped out a lot of the young plants we had growing and made way for a host of weeds to take root among our garden. The result was a whole lot of mustard spinach and kale, as well as some surviving bok choy, collards and cilantro.

What was left of the garden after Hurricane Matthew
What was left of the garden after Hurricane Matthew

While I don’t have very many pictures of the garden before the storm, what did survive ended up really thriving. Our mustard spinach plants grew huge, enough to harvest and get a few dinners out of for the group, and our kale grew to be tasty, too. A few weeks ago, we made white bean and mustard spinach soup (it was great!), and the other night, Jack, Alex and I cooked down some more mustard spinach and kale to eat with rice.

Yours truly with a big box of mustard spinach and kale
Yours truly with a big box of mustard spinach and kale

Right now, our collard greens are still growing, and we’re going to go check on them soon (finals season has sadly kept us away). Although we have to pack up and leave the field site in a week, I’m hoping we can harvest some collards for one last home-grown meal before we all leave. It’s been a great semester and a great time tending to this garden, and I’m definitely a little sad to have to leave it behind.

 

An Internship in Science Journalism

This semester, I’ve been taken a closer look at how the public stays informed about research and environment-related issues. My internship was different than everyone else’s in that it was largely independent — Andy Keeler, the director of the field site, was my mentor, and together we looked at examples of “science journalism” and tried to unpack that phrase.

I came to this field site with a strong background in journalism. When it came time for interviews to help select our internships, I had the idea of pursuing science journalism, which was what I always thought I wanted to do. Although that has since changed (I changed my major right before the semester started), this internship was still a helpful and interesting experience.

On internship days, which were every Monday and every other Wednesday, I headed to the Coastal Studies Institute to meet with Andy about what I was working on and where I was going. Normally, this meant talking about articles I read or about an assignment. Then, I either stayed at CSI or headed to the public library (such a quiet place to work!) to get through my to-do list.

The first articles I looked at spanned a large timeframe. Invention Factory by Malcolm Ross is a New Yorker article that is a good example of writing that has stood the test of time — the article is from 1931 and is exciting to read! For something a little more recent, The Social Life of Genes by David Dobbs was my favorite article I read for this internship.

(Not to load this post with links, but if you want to read my favorite remotely-science-y piece ever, head to National Geographic for To Walk the World by Paul Salopek)

I’ve also been looking at some longer works, too, like Silent Spring by Rachel Carson and John McPhee’s Annals of the Former World. I spent part of the semester working on writing some pieces, myself. I tried my hand at a press release about the Outer Banks Field Site, as well as a researcher spotlight about my mentor, Andy. I’m still working on an article about beach combing and laws relating to that, which I hope to have done soon.

All in all, I’m glad that my internship was low-stress and largely self-paced. When I applied, I was a journalism major, and having an opportunity to pursue that field while also studying the environment really drew me in. It’s just another example of how the Outer Banks Field Site really is open to students who come from all disciplines and backgrounds.

What to Expect in the Unexpected

When I arrived in the Outer Banks in August I had no idea what to expect. I am from Swansboro, North Carolina, so living in a coastal town isn’t a foreign concept to me. However, Manteo was still a very new place that I had never been to before. I had just returned home from Germany a week before I arrived in Manteo, so my research on the area was lacking as well. So, what should you expect during your first few weeks in the Outer Banks? Well, this was my experience:

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The Friends of Elizabeth Guest House

When I arrived, I knew I would be living in the Friends of Elizabeth Guest House, but I figured that would be in a literal house as you might have in Chapel Hill. This house is not quite like that. The Friends of Elizabeth Two Guest House is pretty much a small dorm that is hall way style. You share a bathroom with one other person, and there are two living rooms and one big kitchen. There is a really awesome house director who makes sure everything runs smoothly. The house is always kept clean, and the tenants are reminded that the cleanliness of living spaces is important. The other students in the program live there as well as governmental employees of different ages. The house is roughly a ten-minute drive from the Coastal Studies Institute (CSI).

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The first walk I took on the beach, I was with a classmate, Julia. After walking for a while, we noticed a huge black figure up closer to the dunes. Continuing to walk closer, it was clearly a huge sea turtle, that we originally thought was a large statute. However, the closer we got to this huge statute, the more it began to smell. This was no statute at all, it was an enormous dead sea turtle. I had never seen this in my life, even on the beach where I grew up. Why was this here? Was no one going to do anything about it? I later came to find out that dead sea turtles often washed up on the beach here. Different organizations would mark the sea turtles depending on the area of the beach they washed up on, and later the town would decide if they wanted to bury the turtle or not.

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I have had many adventures while in Manteo that I would have never expected. However, these are the two things that I found might be helpful for a future student. Time goes by quickly, so make the most of it while you can!

The Outer Banks Center for Wildlife Education

My internship for the semester is with the Outer Banks Center for Wildlife Education and my mentor is the center director, Karen Clark. Not to start off this post bragging about how incredible of an experience my internship has been, but it literally could not have been better. Karen Clark has been really fun to work with and is simply a fascinating woman in many aspects. As a biologist for N.E.S.T., she has allowed me to become very involved with a wonderful program, which I discussed in my last blog post “Nest or N.E.S.T.?”.  At the Outer Banks Center for Wildlife Education, there is also a curator, Sharon Meade, who lightens up my day every time I intern. She is incredibly knowledgeable about the surrounding area’s ecology and history. I have learned so much from her while also having fun at the same time. At the front desk is Elaine Goodwin, who can identify all the local species and is also incredibly knowledgeable. Finally, there is Jane Brown and Sam Stolkes who are seasonal environmental educators. I have worked with the public and schools most frequently with Jane and Sam. Jane has been an absolute blessing to work with and was the person to really show me the ropes around the center.  Sam graduated from UNC a few years ago, and he is extremely knowledgeable about many aspects of the environment.

When I started my internship in September, the center still had quite a few people visiting it on a daily basis. This allowed for many educational classes and carts so I often interacted with the public. Discovery carts are quick educational classes that we present on carts for anyone interested in stopping by. On Mondays, I spent the day with Jane

feeding the fish, doing discovery carts, and giving educational classes. We often had classes or carts on Gyotaku, which is Japanese fish printing. All of the fake fish we would use for Gyotaku are fish that you can find in the sound beside the education center. On Wednesdays, I would assist the kayaking class with Sam or Jane. While on this tour, we would talk about the historical background of the area as well as the ecological aspects.

Recently, I have been working more with my canine discovery cart, school outreach programs, and N.E.S.T. volunteer trainings. As a part of my internship goals, I needed to create a discovery cart for the center. Since red wolves and coyotes have recently become a prominent topic in this area, I thought that is was appropriate to create a cart to educate individuals more about them. The cart includes fact sheets on the animals, readings that people can look at, a craft and game for children, and a coyote pelt. I have used this cart a few times since finalizing it and the outcome has been very good. I have done two school outreach programs at elementary schools in Currituck County with Sam. One was presenting Sea Turtles in Jeopardy and the other was an interactive Velcro Fishing program. Moreover, there are often N.E.S.T. trainings at the education center that I help Karen with. I still continue to work with N.E.S.T. as explained in my earlier N.E.S.T. blogpost and will throughout the rest of my time in the Outer Banks. Finally, I continue to feed the fish every time I intern, but now I work more with the chemistry of the aquarium. Sam has taught me how to find the salinity and dissolved oxygen concentrations of the aquariums.

If you are an upcoming student reading this and you have any interest in environmental education, this internship is the way to go. I have gained experience and knowledge that has broadened my education in ways that sitting in a classroom cannot.