I have started my second internship at Cumberland Island National Seashore, and my experiences could not be more different! This time last year, I was heading down to Georgia from my home in Philadelphia, and it was my first time ever visiting the south. I was about to start a very field-intensive position with the NPS SECN Inventory and Monitoring program. My work involved deploying ARDs (Automated Recording Devices) throughout several parks in the southeast to record vocal anuran and land birds for research. The main portion of my internship was spent conducting vegetation surveys as a part of a 30-year study investigating the change in vegetation in National Parks. I got to know Cumberland Island very well, and visited spots that no other person has been!
I am a big fan of reptiles and amphibians. I have thoroughly enjoyed my field experience on Cumberland Island and my many wildlife encounters. Cumberland Island is home to feral horses, wild hogs, and of course, a variety of amphibians and reptiles. I am hoping to put together a program about the snakes of Cumberland and explain why they are so beneficial to have around! These creatures are so often misunderstood and hated, and are in need of some protections.
Cumberland Island is also a very important nesting location for a variety of endangered sea turtles and shorebirds. I was able to be trained by the CUIS Turtle Technician to conduct sea turtle nest inventories and excavate marked nests to count the number of eggs that have hatched. I had a lucky day excavating a nest that still had over 30 living baby loggerhead sea turtles inside and I was able to release them into the ocean!
I have spent the last couple of months navigating my way through an entirely new and different internship experience as a CVA. As much as I enjoyed conducting field work, I am very happy to be in a position where I get to interact with new people each day. The volunteers at Cumberland Island are so passionate about preserving the resources and educating the community, and it has been a privilege to work alongside creative and hard-working rangers at a park that is so unique.
So far, I have developed a relationship with the neighboring submarine base to have regular volunteer projects on the island, and recruited students from a nearby university as photography volunteers to expand our photo database. I have also led educational hikes with groups of 4th graders as a part of a project for Every Kid in a Park.
I am so excited that my CVA term has been extended and I will have the opportunity to spend even more time at this amazing park working to expand volunteerism and educational opportunities for the neighboring communities. Not to mention, it has been nice escaping the blistering cold of the northeast 😉