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pond with lily pads

Soil and Water Summer Experience – Katie Schoenberger

The UF/IFAS soil and water sciences department is offering students the chance to blog about their summer experiences. The students enrolled in one of three courses over the summer, for which they received credit: SWS 4905-Individual Work, SWS 4911-Supervised Research in Soil and Water Science, and SWS 4941 Practical Work Experience. This is Katie Schoenberger’s summer experience: environmental science


woman standing in pond measuring water quality for environmental science.

Katie Schoenberger sampling water in a stream in Gainesville, Fla. (photo provided)

My name is Katie Schoenberger, and I am a third-year environmental science major with a minor in soil and water science. I had the pleasure of interning in Dr. AJ Reisinger’s Urban Ecosystem and Ecology lab this past summer. Working in this lab was never boring as I did a wide array of activities. I had the opportunity to travel to Palmetto, Fla., with one of the graduate students to collect water samples from stormwater ponds to test for greenhouse gases and nutrient cycling. We then compared these results to natural ponds found in the Ordway-Swisher Biological Station.

Additionally, I had the opportunity to participate in a project installing lysimeters. These measuring devices collect water that leaches through the soil profile. We placed them in the yards of Gainesville residents to analyze the effect of different residential fertilizer treatments.

Real-World Experiences
woman on boat conducting environmental science sampling.

Katie collecting water samples on a stormwater pond. (photo provided)

Through this internship, I was able to meet lots of people and even worked with a different lab for a few days to study the behavior of crayfish! Aside from all the fieldwork, I also gained plenty of experience in the lab. I learned proper lab safety and protocols, how to use different analytical machines, create different reagents, make dilutions, and more!

Prior to the internship, I had not taken very many environmental science or soil and water courses. However, the general biology and chemistry courses I took provided me with plenty of background. I understood what we were testing and could take part in the scientific communication with the graduate students in the lab.

This internship provided me with a real-world example of what it is like to have a job in a lab. I attended weekly lab meetings and learned how labs operate. Overall, this internship was an extremely educational and rewarding experience. I met awesome people and made some really good friends, too. I am very grateful to Dr. Reisinger and the IFAS Research Internship Program for giving me this opportunity.