2010 PFIG Recipient Haley Pack

Career Administrator

Haley Pack
College of Arts & Sciences
Environmental Thought & Practice and Economics Major
2011 Graduation Year

Internship: VA Department of Game & Inland Fisheries

Notes on the first week

Hello! My name is Haley Pack and I am working for the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) this summer. The mission of this organization is:

  • To manage Virginia's wildlife and inland fish to maintain optimum populations of all species to serve the needs of the Commonwealth;
  • To provide opportunity for all to enjoy wildlife, inland fish, boating and related outdoor recreation and to work diligently to safeguard the rights of the people to hunt, fish and harvest game as provided for in the Constitution of Virginia;
  • To promote safety for persons and property in connection with boating, hunting and fishing;
  • To provide educational outreach programs and materials that foster an awareness of and appreciation for Virginia's fish and wildlife resources, their habitats, and hunting, fishing, and boating opportunities.

Over the course of the summer I will be working with fisheries biologists and other members of the VDGIF staff to assess and improve the health of aquatic ecosystems. I will be educating local and state residents about our natural resources and working to get individuals and groups involved in their environments.

During my first week, I sampled fish in the South River, stocked fish in Robertson Lake, and attended a conference on fish health. The fish sampling in the South River was part of ongoing research into Mercury contamination in the river and its watershed. Part of the fish health conference I attended centered around fish kills and fish mortality in Virginia Rivers. During this first week I also created my blog, riverreading.wordpress.com, to share my experiences with others.

I can’t believe that I am only one week into my internship, because I already feel like I have learned so much! I am glad that I am keeping a blog and a journal so I can remember everything. During this first week I have seen some horrible environmental problems, mercury contamination and fish kills, but I have also met and worked with people who are trying to mitigate them. This week has reiterated to me the need to keep environments healthy and free from pollutants, and it has been encouraging to see that people are working to accomplish this. My first week has made me excited for all that I will learn this summer and for all that I will have to share with others. I am looking forward to learning ways to engage citizens in their environments and environmental decision-making, learning about different careers which help make environments healthier, and seeking the best role for me to play in environmental public service in the future.

Midway

Working with the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) over the last month has been awesome! I have had the chance to participate in many different projects, learning to evaluate aquatic resources and work with citizens to restore damaged ecosystems.

To learn about our lakes, rivers, and streams I headed "into the field" with the biologists and technicians from the DGIF. Sometimes this meant hiking hours to reach a remote stream in St. Mary’s Wilderness, driving to Fredericksburg to sample the Rappahannock River, or simply putting a canoe in the South Fork of the Shenandoah River. At each location we visited I learned something new. By electro-shocking streams and talking with anglers I learned about fish species, their life histories, and their importance to fishers and nature enthusiasts in Virginia. I also learned about invasive species, such as Didymo, harmful pollutants like E. coli, phosphorus, and nitrogen, and our essential needs for clean water.

Out of the water, I participated in educational demonstrations for kids and teachers and loved seeing the excitement they felt about our rivers. I also learned about the communication, planning, and public participation necessary to manage our rivers and streams. There are many different groups such as fishers, farmers, swimmers, canoers, kayakers, factories, and others that all have an interest in our water. By learning about point and non-point source pollution regulation, attending meetings of research teams, non-profit groups, and government agencies, and visiting stream restoration and dam removal sites, I have learned more about the necessary cooperation between stakeholders and methods for making streams healthy again.

Whether people want to fish and eat from the river, withdrawal water from the river, play in the river, or discharge effluents into the river, all have a claim to the resource. The challenge, one which I find motivating, is to understand the resource and balance the needs of many different users without compromising the integrity of our wonderful rivers and streams.

Final Reflections

My internship with the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries this summer was not only fun but meaningful as well. Whether I was researching a stream, learning about a particular fish species, or teaching kids about local rivers, no two days were alike and I was always learning something new. Throughout all of this I was surrounded by knowledgeable, enthusiastic, and patient mentors who supported me and challenged me to explore different environmental issues. Because of this continual exploration and collaboration I was excited to go to work each day.

Although I have completed my internship, its influence on my life is far from over. Participating in many different avenues of environmental public service this summer, such as education, management, and planning has given me a clearer direction for my future. I want to continue to be involved in environmental issues, become more educated about methods to prevent pollution, and work with communities to solve environmental problems.

I am very thankful to the Parents Fund for making my internship possible. This internship has taught me about myself and about how I want to pursue public service in the future. Thanks!