2005 PFIG Recipient Elysa Miller

Career Administrator

Elysa Miller
College of Arts & Sciences
Environmental Science
2007 Graduation Year

Internship: Chesapeake Bay Foundation Education Center

Notes on the first week

Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) has four island programs where a manager and boat captain host groups of students or teachers for three or four days. The participants stay in an environmentally friendly, low energy lodge and learn the importance of conservation as well as the simplicity of many conservation techniques. It is a remote, rustic environment and we run on bay time—only going by the sun and how we feel. During their stay, we lead the participants out on the boat to teach them the ways of watermen, taking them crabbing, oyster dredging and fish seining. We also spend time on the island and in the marshlands surrounding us, teaching the importance of marshes and giving an overview of many environmental science topics. I am interning at one of these lodges for the summer, spreading environmental education and awareness to many people in a fun, memorable way. This is not my very first journal entry, as I spent a week out here without internet, but this is one that I particularly enjoy because I love when I can pull myself away from the hectic schedule of life.

I can’t wait for the trips to start. I feel like I will be making a visible difference. I can’t wait to teach the students and teachers all about the bay and conservation. I’m excited to learn from them, mainly because I have no idea what I will learn from them—probably science knowledge from the teachers. It will be eye-opening to see each person’s different reaction to nature. Everyone should experience a sunset and learn how easily they to can conserve and how much every little bit helps and I’m thankful I get to step in and help educate so many people in one summer!

Midway

I cannot believe my summer is half over. I wish I could stay out here forever. I am eager to come back out here once I finish school, and Anne, my manager, said that they would love to have me back. This internship has provided a great experience for me this summer and set up great contacts and opportunities for me in the future. I am pleasantly surprised with how much I have accomplished as well. I have learned so much about the bay and its surrounding ecosystems on the science level, but I have also attained a great deal of skills in education and working with people. On more than one occasion I have led a trip where I met the other leader the same time I met the students. I have gained a lot of experience in being flexible and learning to work with people of all types and with different ways of running trips. I can now say I have lead multiple trips of 20 or so hot, tired, middle- and high-schoolers in the heat and humidity through camping, canoeing, crabbing, oyster dredging, and understanding the complex systems of nature. And I can confidently say that they had a good time and learned a good deal as well. Although still refining my skills, I am able to keep the children’s attention and keep them interested, one of my weaker points as I entered this internship.

Not only have I improved my skills, but I have also developed a love for the water. I have always enjoyed being wet and playing in the water and canoeing, but I now have a deep respect for all the watermen whose livelihood depends on the water, weather and effects of people’s actions upstream. I also have an understanding of so many concepts I didn’t even know existed before this summer, such as the way lights work on a boat, and the meanings of shapes and colors of buoys.

At this point, I am just trying to not think about how soon I have to leave, and soaking up as much knowledge as I can in these last few weeks.

Final Reflections

My last full day out here happens to be my birthday! We do not have a trip out here, so the new assistant manager, the captain and I worked on maintenance around the center, mainly getting ready for new couches to be delivered tomorrow, and then they took me out to an all-you-can-eat (fresh!) seafood buffet tonight! I am so sad to be leaving this center. I am excited to return home and see my family and then return to school and see my friends, but it is going to be very hard to leave the friends I have made out here, and to leave the center. The only thought that will make it easier is the fact that I know I will be coming back out to work here at some point. I have had the most amazing summer of my life. I learned more out here over the summer than I could have ever imagined, and in so many different areas. I learned a lot about the environment, the estuarine ecosystem, boats, watermen, and the water itself. I learned a lot about myself and interacting with others, all of which will help me as I continue through life. I gained experience working with students from fifth grade through adults, and adapting my teaching style and information for each group. I also acquired skills necessary to create an enjoyable relationship with coworkers, through a lot of observation, and obviously through first hand experience. I will look back on this summer fondly for the rest of my life. It was such an incredible experience, which was enhanced by all the information, knowledge and wisdom I attained throughout the summer. I also made some really good friendships with the managers and captains that will last beyond my return to Charlottesville. Lastly, I got to know myself better as well. With no one around to influence my thoughts and actions, I was able to investigate and examine my personal thoughts, beliefs, personality, and reactions. This internship was one of the most beneficial activities I have ever done.