My 2022 Internship Experience: Jacob Wilson

2024 Sarasota County Summer Internship applications are available!

man holding a horseshoe crab near water
Jacob Wilson, Sarasota County 2022 summer intern, participates in Horseshoe Crab Watch.

Are you interested in getting hands-on experience in your chosen field? Do you want to make a difference in your community?
Intern Sarasota County is dedicated to providing students with an unsurpassed learning experience and insight into the dynamic world of public sector employment.

Develop new skills you can apply in the workplace

Gain skills that will enhance your resume and increase your career options while exploring public service! Observe and participate in tasks and responsibilities preformed daily by skilled professionals. Experience workplace culture, office dynamics, and business etiquette.
Your internship will include impactful hands-on work within a department, networking, professional development, and building long lasting connections with other interns, mentors and Sarasota County team members.

2024 Summer Intern Cohort

The 2024 summer internship cohort applications will open in December 2023.

Program dates: The 2024 summer internship program runs May 20, 2024, through Aug. 09, 2024.

Internship hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday (some departments vary).

Pay range: $13 per hour (high school students) up to $20 per hour (grad/masters students), based on credit hours earned.

Your internship includes:

  • Competitive wage
  • Hands-on work experience
  • Professional headshot
  • 1:1 mentoring with county staff
  • Professional development events

Minimum qualifications:

  • At least 18 years old, or age 16 with parental consent.
  • High school diploma, or equivalent (if applicable).
  • Eligible to work in the United States – we love local, national, and international students!
  • Currently seeking a diploma or degree through an accredited secondary or post-secondary educational program, or within 12 months after graduation.

This year our Environmental Education and Outreach interns might work with a variety of our programs, including 4-H Youth Development, Agriculture, Ecology and Natural Resources, Marine and Coastal, and Sustainability.

Continue reading to learn about the experience of Jacob Wilson, one of our 2022 Sarasota County summer interns.

My Internship Experience

photo of female and male intern in front of UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County sign
Jacob Wilson (right) and Gabriela Benitez (left), UF/IFAS Sarasota County Extension 2022 summer interns

During the summer of 2022, I was provided the opportunity to work at the UF/IFAS Sarasota County Extension through the Sarasota County summer intern program. In my position as the Environmental Education and Outreach Intern, I was exposed to an array of education and resources provided by a well assembled team of experts in their fields, including youth development, ecology and natural resources, sustainability, entomology, marine sciences, and agriculture.

I feel that my internship experience was quite unique, in that it was divided into two separate halves, working with two different programs- 4-H Youth Development and the Ecology and Natural Resources program.

4-H Youth Development

4-H youth and UF/IFAS staff members are pulling invasive plants for removal from Carlton T. Mabry Reserve
4-H youth remove invasive plants at Carlton Reserve during the 4-H Exploring Your Environment summer day camp

The first half of the summer, I was working directly with 4-H Youth Development. While working with 4H, I was able to assist in the planning and coordination process of the 4-H Exploring Your Environment summer day camp. This was a two-week camp in which we were able to provide local Sarasota County children, many of whom attended camp through scholarships, the opportunity to become more educated in their local environment while enjoying time with friends.

Throughout this summer camp, I was assigned the role of supervising youth with other Extension colleagues, and delivering different activities and lesson plans while touring many of Sarasota County’s beautiful parks and preserves.

Natural Resources and Ecology

back of man's head while viewing a Florida scrub-jay sitting on scrub oaks
Florida scrub-jay at Oscar Scherer State Park (left) being observed by intern, Jacob Wilson (right)

During the second half of my internship with Sarasota County, I worked on projects in the Ecology and Natural Resources program. While working with this program, I was given the responsibility of writing and publishing wildlife-related blogs, and developing and presenting wildlife webinars. The subject matter included local wildlife species, conservation, and our environment. Through this opportunity I was able to expand upon my writing abilities and improve my public speaking skills.

I was also able to attend a few Florida Master Naturalist Program field trips to some of our most unique upland areas in Sarasota County, including Myakka River State Park and Oscar Scherer State Park where I got to see my first Florida scrub-jay!

Read Jacob’s blogs HERE

Watch some of Jacob’s webinars HERE in our Wild Sarasota series.


4 members of UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County Sustainability team standing in front of a building in green Energy Upgrade t-shirts.
UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County Sustainability team participate in the Energy Upgrade program.

As part of the Intern Sarasota County program, I was assigned a mentor from the Sustainability program. As I am currently pursuing my Graduate Degree in Global Sustainability, it was excellent to be able to speak with a working professional in the field. With Sara Kane and other members of Sarasota County’s Sustainability Team, I was given the opportunity to take part in the Energy Upgrade Program. This initiative involved going door-to-door throughout Sarasota County’s Housing Authority installing and upgrading their fixtures and appliances to those that are more energy efficient. This program has a positive impact on the community by educating residents on the importance of energy efficiency as well as helping to reduce their utility bills.

Local Wildlife Citizen Science Opportunities

Armando Ubeda, Florida Sea Grant Agent, and intern Jacob Wilson participate in Horseshoe Crab monitoring.

While interning with Sarasota County, I was offered the chance to work with some local citizen science programs. Working near Sarasota’s beautiful beaches, the wildlife I encountered happened to be nesting sea turtles! During nesting season, many Greenback and Loggerhead Sea Turtles come up to our Gulf Coast shores to lay their eggs. From 9:00 at night to 4:00 in the morning, I assisted Sarasota County staff to patrol Manasota  beach, keeping an eye out for oncoming sea turtles. We would watch to see if they if they were already tagged. After the female turtle is done laying her eggs, if she was not already tagged, we would tag one of her fins and then record her measurements and any observations.

The research opportunities didn’t end with sea turtles. Joining Armando Ubeda, Sarasota County Extension’s Sea Grant Agent, I was given the chance to search for and tag breeding horseshoe crabs for research. These efforts help the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Horseshoe Crab Watch keep track of population numbers, which assists with the management and conservation of horseshoe crabs and their habitat. Not only was I able to enjoy a field day in Sarasota, but after  only one afternoon, I left feeling well educated on how important horseshoe crabs our in our ecosystem, and why we need to do our part in preserving their habitats.

Thank you!

I will always be thankful for the work experience and education gained during my time  interning with the Intern Sarasota County program at UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County. As an aspiring professional in the fields of sustainability and ecology, I left this internship with more confidence in a wide set of skills, including public speaking, research, data collection, writing, and ability to work with others in a professional environment.

Read more about the experience of Samantha Sliger, one of our 2023 Sarasota County summer interns, HERE


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Posted: January 3, 2024

Category: 4-H & Youth, Natural Resources, Professional Development, Wildlife, Work & Life
Tags: 4-H, Conservation, Ecology, Intern, InternSarasotaLife, Internship, Pgm_EcoNR, Sarasota County, Wildlife

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