2017 Summer Scholar Katie Gregory working in the field on the coast


By Tiffany Woods

Ten current or recent undergraduates now have a better understanding of various marine science careers and their own aspirations, thanks to internships organized and supported by Oregon Sea Grant.

The interns, who beat out about 150 other applicants, were enrolled in or recently graduated from universities in California, Connecticut, New York, Oregon and Pennsylvania. For 10 weeks, they worked for the following:

  • Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
  • Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development
  • South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve in Charleston
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • Wild Rivers Coast Alliance in Bandon

The interns were paired with a mentor and assigned to a project. For some projects, the interns:

  • waded into bays to set up cameras that monitored how crabs and fish behaved around two different types of oyster aquaculture systems
  • went door-to-door, surveying coastal residents about their thoughts on Oregon’s marine reserves 
  • encouraged people to share photos on social media of the highest tides of the year in Oregon to help coastal planners visualize how rising sea levels may affect communities
  • trapped invasive European green crabs in the South Slough to track their population and distribution
  • collected water samples in Tillamook Bay
  • browsed websites of professional photographers with the aim of hiring several to promote southern Oregon’s natural beauty
  • helped organize a marine-themed Bingo activity at a pub and two barbecues “with a side of science” to inform fishermen and the public about marine reserves.

The interns, who wrote about their experiences on Oregon Sea Grant’s blog for scholars, grew not only professionally but also personally. They improved their cooking skills, learned how to cope with homesickness and sedentary office work, pondered where they want to live, and thought about their career aspirations. 

In their free time, they explored Oregon and got to know each other. They went camping, played beach volleyball, watched a solar eclipse, swam in Crater Lake and hiked to the tree line at Mount Hood. 

“Thank you, Sea Grant, for pushing our bounds and asking us to grow,” Sarah Coffin wrote in her final blog post. “I am leaving this internship a better and more hopeful person than I came.”

A video about the internship program is on Oregon Sea Grant's YouTube channel.