It is hard to sum up two summers worth of incredible learning opportunities in a five hundred word blog post. But I’ll give it a shot anyway.
First and foremost, my internship at Inland Seas has affirmed for me that I am in exactly the right field for me. I sought out this internship last summer hoping to get a taste for environmental education and decide whether or not this is a field that I would like pursue, and I feel so confident moving forward with this career path after my internship experience. Not only is environmental education truly what I enjoy doing, but it is also extremely imperative at this point in time, with human-induced climate change rapidly altering the earth and the species we share this planet with.
Through my work at Inland Seas, I have also learned that I love teaching. I accepted this internship in environmental education thinking that the environment side of my work would be what drove me each day, however, I have discovered that my passion for education is just as fervent. This summer, I have begun to seriously consider teaching as my future career, and the possibility of the uncertainty ahead excites me. I have found that there is nothing more rewarding than teaching students about my passions and seeing them as equally as excited about the Great Lakes as I am.
While I have loved my internship and have learned so much from my time here, this opportunity has been equally as valuable in teaching me exactly what I do not enjoy doing. On the rare occasion that the boat was not sailing and we did not have a program we were in the midst of planning, the interns and I found ourselves in the office doing data entry and logistical work. As essential as I know these things are to any science organization, I am certain I do not want to pursue an office or lab position in the future. Spending eight hours in an office on a beautiful, sunny summer day is enough to make me go stir crazy.
Lastly, my internship opportunity at Inland Seas has given me so much confidence; confidence as a scientist, as an educator, as a leader, as a coworker, and believe it or not, as a sailor too (although it did take me four months to learn how to tie a bowline knot). As I was the lead instructor on my last sail of the summer on Friday, I thought back to my first sail in May of 2015. It was cold and rainy and I had no teaching experience and I was incredibly nervous about doing something wrong. I muddled my way through my first sail and about a dozen more after that, but eventually I found a rhythm that has carried me through two incredible summers with Inland Seas. And I wouldn’t trade my first or last sail – or anything in between – for the world.