By Jen Aiken
Have you ever been an intern? Think back on that experience…did you enjoy it? Was it related to the field you are in now and, if so, what skills did it provide for your current career? As a non-profit environmental education and conservation organization, part of our mission is to inspire the next generation of environmental stewards through internships. This past year, Graham Elmore enthusiastically filled the role as one of ClearShark H2O’s interns (in partnership with Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve).
Growing up in Western Maryland with his parents, sister, a dog, and a cat, Graham spent a lot of time whitewater kayaking and then moved to Cape St. Claire his freshman year in high school. Since then, Graham and his family spend a lot of time boating on the Magothy River. It is because of these experiences that Graham realizes how important healthy water is to our livelihood. As an avid outdoorsman, Graham knew that the ClearShark H2O internship was an opportunity that he couldn’t pass up. Since he jumps at every chance to explore and get outside, the internship proved to be a great fit as Graham had a lot of time to kayak, catch minnows and monitor water quality, providing him with hands-on environmental science experiences.
One of Graham’s favorite parts of the internship was kayaking to Crystal Cove during the warm summer days to throw a cast net over large schools of menhaden and killifish. “The surprise and unknown of what I could catch or see in the water was very exciting”, states Graham. Not only was Graham catching and recording which species of aquatic animals he caught, he was also monitoring water quality. Analyzing the water quality data proved to be a big learning experience gained for Graham as he interpreted and formatted the data into tables and graphs. By doing so, he was then able to visualize the trends and changes that occur in water quality over time.
Several tangential and unexpected skills gained through the internship consisted of honing in on managing his time and important deadlines, communicating effectively with his mentors, and planning and preparing for meetings. Overall, Graham really enjoyed doing field work and then interpreting that into real life environmental processes. While he realizes that climate change is the biggest issue facing his generation, Graham feels that the best approach to creating change is to “teach students how to love the environment and make changes out of appreciation and not fear”. These are certainly wise words from this budding environmental scientist.
This Fall, Graham plans on attending the University of Maryland Baltimore County to pursue environmental engineering in hopes of finding solutions to issues surrounding construction, industrial pollution, and creating more sustainable, eco-friendly buildings and homes. With Graham’s work ethic, passion, and academic achievements, we can’t wait to see what the future holds for this young environmental steward. Thanks for being part of CSH2O, Graham!