Soil and Water Summer Experience – Jenna Knobbe
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 Jenna Knobbe’s summer experience:
My name is Jenna Knobbe and I am majoring in interdisciplinary studies with a concentration in environmental management in agriculture and natural resources. I also have two minors: fisheries and aquatic sciences and wildlife ecology and conservation. This summer, I had the opportunity to volunteer with the Friends of MacArthur Beach State Park in their Education Department.
My internship focused on facilitating a conservation-centered youth summer camp in John D. MacArthur Beach State Park (MacBeach) in North Palm Beach, Fla. Our daily activities with the campers consisted of enjoying the beach, kayaking, fishing, video conferencing with various experts in marine research, seine netting in the estuary, “turtle time” with our resident juvenile loggerhead sea turtle, snorkeling on the rock reef, conducting citizen scientist fish counts, and learning about the different habitats within the park. I received training in handling various animals for the purpose of educating the campers about the types of critters found at MacBeach. Any animals or interesting phenomena that presented themselves to us were used as a teaching opportunity for the campers to gain a greater appreciation for the park. I planned and organized our daily activities and led presentations that aligned with an activity we completed or some aspect of the park.
This summer was one I will treasure forever. It was a very rewarding, very taxing, but very unique internship experience. It was really fulfilling to see a manatee or a stingray and to see a camper’s face light up and say, “I’ve never seen one of those before!” I learned more about myself as a person and my general style when it comes to leading a group. I gained an understanding of professional workplace dynamics and made great connections with my coworkers. My previous coursework at UF helped me with foundation-level knowledge of many different Florida ecosystems. My marine-oriented classes allowed me to have a more comprehensive understanding of habitats like the ocean and the estuary. While leading discussions with the campers, I was able to reflect on what I have learned from my time at UF and teach them these same concepts that I have come to know and love.
At times, it was difficult to keep morale high when the days were extremely hot and we were outside most of the time. Keeping everyone healthy and safe is its own challenge given the state of affairs in our world. Emphasizing a positive attitude and reminding the campers that we were very lucky to be outside enjoying a beautiful day helped to recenter our group and boost morale. Overall, I am very grateful to the Friends of MacArthur Beach State Park for giving me the opportunity to serve their mission and to build my knowledge and build my skills.