By: Emily Woodward
Four recent college graduates have been awarded one-year education internships with UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant. Funded by Georgia Sea Grant, the interns will serve as educators for students, teachers and members of the coastal community.
The interns will spend 50 weeks on Skidaway Island at the Marine Education Center and Aquarium offering educational programs focused on the ecology of Georgia’s coastal and estuarine ecosystems. They will also participate in community outreach by attending events like CoastFest and Skidaway Marine Science Day.
They began their training in September just as Hurricane Irma was bearing down on the coast, which presented a unique opportunity for them to learn how to prepare the aquarium for evacuation. With Irma now in the rearview, the new educators get to shadow Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant’s faculty and staff and gain the skills they need to teach all of the classes offered at the center.
The interns are:
Isabella Espinoza graduated from Boston University with a degree in biology, specializing in behavioral biology. For the past two summers, she worked with the Brookline Recreation nature camp in Massachusetts. The camp focuses on local nature education for all ages and has an outdoor adventure component for the older age groups. She also worked as a learning assistant in a vertebrate zoology lab course at Boston University. The course focused on the adaptations and life histories of species from the major vertebrate groups (fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals).
Victoria Green is from Ormond Beach, Fla. She graduated from Duke University with a degree in earth and ocean sciences and a certificate in Marine Science Conservation and Leadership. She studied at the Duke Marine Lab in Beaufort, N.C., and at Seacamp in the Florida Keys. Through these experiences, she’s learned to take complicated marine science topics and translate it into information that K-12 grade students can absorb.
Mandy Castro is from San Diego, Calif. She graduated from Smith College in Northampton, Mass., with a degree in biological sciences and a minor in education and child studies. For the past three summers, she has been part of a team of Smith College student educators teaching marine science and conservation to local school children in Belize. While in Belize, she also collected data for her honors thesis, which focused on characterizing hard and soft corals of Mexico Rocks, a marine protected reef complex north of San Pedro.
Megan Wilson is from Salt Lake City, Utah. In high school, she began volunteering and interning at the Living Planet Aquarium, Utah’s only aquarium. She graduated from California State University in Long Beach with a degree in marine biology. In college, she conducted undergraduate research on the metabolic rate of the California horn shark. She also raised jellyfish while working for Sunset Marine Labs and acquired her environmental education skills while working in the education department at Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, Calif.