By Megan Verfaillie, NH EPSCoR Citizen Science Intern, summer of 2016. Megan will be a sophomore at the University of New Hampshire working on a degree in Environmental Engineering.
For those of you who have been reading my stories and blog posts so far, I wanted to say thank you for taking interest in the work I’ve been doing this summer. When I first accepted this internship, I had no idea what to expect. It turned out to be an amazing and memorable experience full of great staff, professors, interns, and volunteers. I couldn’t have imagined a better way to spend my summer. Since this is my last blog post, I wanted to give a short recap of some of my most memorable moments from this summer. Some you’ve heard and some may be new, but to me they’re all special.
“Megan vs. the Rock. Megan Wins”
This picture (above) was from a Stream Buffer Restoration workday with the NH Sea Grant Coastal Research Volunteers at the Sagamore Hampton Golf Course. This golf course has been working towards a special Audubon International Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf certification so they have been working on a lot of projects like this one. For this project, volunteers and several interns spent hours outside digging holes and planting shrubs and trees in order to create a buffer to protect the stream from runoff and lower the level of nitrogen passed into the watershed. This picture was taken towards the end of the day. We only had a few holes left to dig and I had been working on this particular hole for some time. I had already unearthed a small colony of ants and gotten covered in dirt when I hit a rock. Undeterred, I kept digging and pulled out a small rock only to discover that there was a much bigger one right underneath it! I decided that I was already too invested in this hole to start digging somewhere else so I kept working at it. After what seemed like forever, I unearthed the rock you see here. Alyson Eberhardt from the Sea Grant took this picture of me holding my “trophy” with my foot in the hole I made.
“In Over My Boots”
Some of you may remember this picture from an earlier story I wrote. At the time it only had the caption “It’s easy to get in over your boots at the Bellamy River” so I wanted to share the story behind it. Emily Balcom (NH EPSCoR Intern), Malin Clyde (Stewardship Network: New England Project Manager), and I were doing some routine site visits at the future volunteer sample sites. At the same time, I was also taking some pictures of the sites as to better describe them to volunteers. We were wrapping up at the Bellamy River Site when Emily suggested that she and I take a picture together under the bridge. I agreed and handed the camera over to Malin to take the picture. We decided on a good place to stand, but I had the bright idea to stand in the water to make it look more interesting. I stepped off the rock onto what I thought was the bottom of the river and was immediately up to my knee in mud. The water was way over the top of my boot and I couldn’t pull it out on my own. Thankfully, Emily wasn’t far away so she helped pull me out of the mud. This picture was taken moments after as I was dumping the water out of my boot. After this, I learned to place my feet much more carefully when stepping into the water.
“It’s Like Wearing a Wetsuit”
This picture was also taken on a routine sampling trip with the other EPSCoR interns. Pictured here are Emily Balcom and Maddy Webb posing in their stylish waders borrowed from the UNH labs. Shortly before this picture was taken, both of them had been up to their knees in Gerrish Brook. Emily’s waders were much newer than Maddy’s, and she had used them several times over the summer. Maddy however, had borrowed an older pair that were many sizes too large for her. Despite this she was ready to get into the brook and help sample. Only seconds after stepping into the water, her waders started leaking. They were filing up with water so Maddy quickly climbed back out. They finished sampling and we started walking back to the car. At this point Maddy made the comment that it felt like she was wearing a wetsuit since her waders were so full of water. We could even hear the water sloshing around in her boots. I snapped this picture right before she took them off and dumped the water out.
I hope you enjoyed these stories as much as I did! These are only a few of many great memories I've made this summer. My internship was absolutely amazing, and I loved every minute of it. They say if you love what you do then you’ll never work a day in your life, and in all honesty my job this summer was a true testament to that. I got to work with some wonderful and inspiring people and I can’t thank them enough for everything they’ve taught me. Most of all however, I want to thank Malin Clyde for being the most fantastic mentor I could have imagined. I hope you all enjoy the rest of the summer and make sure to check out the Stewardship Network Events calendar so that you can get involved in projects like mine and make a difference volunteering for nature!