Volunteer Spotlight: College interns dive into conservation work

This summer, the Aquarium Conservation Team (ACT!) was lucky enough to take on four college student interns, thanks to generous grant funding from Dillon Fund and Praxair. In just eight short weeks, these enthusiastic students jumped feet-first into the world of conservation and the many career avenues that exist within the field. Each intern came to us with different backgrounds, school experiences, and personal strengths, but together they made a great team!

Zebidiah Buck, a rising senior at Lycoming College in Central Pennsylvania, had lots of experience researching freshwater reptiles and amphibians in local streams, but yearned to dive into the bigger waters of the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean!

Other interns came to us from our very own Baltimore City; Russell Bunn is a recent graduate of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore with a degree in biology and marine/estuarine science, and LaVonna Livingston is a rising sophomore at University of Maryland College Park, who was previously part of the Aquarium on Wheels Program in high school. Tiana Jones is a rising sophomore at UMES who learned of ACT’s efforts by participating in several of our past restoration events through her volunteer work with the Maryland Conservation Corps.

This crew worked with both the Marine Animal Rescue Program and the Conservation Team, exposing them to a wide variety of experiences. They spent time behind the scenes at both the Baltimore and D.C. venues of the National Aquarium, and came face to face with some other amazing animals at the National Zoo, as well.

Some of their most rewarding work involved hands-on care of animals being rehabilitated at the Aquarium, and then assisting with the releases of several sea turtles and a gray seal! They planted marsh grass at Poplar Island, collected debris at Fort McHenry, canoed, camped, and generally took in everything the environmental world had to offer! One of the summer’s highlights included a week-long trip to the Virginia Institute of Marine Science to explore graduate school options and learn more about the scientific research that supports marsh restoration.

These students were an invaluable asset to our educational programs and restoration trips, and helped us to complete projects that we simply could not have accomplished without their help. We thank them for their hard work and upbeat attitudes, and wish them the best of luck in their future conservation endeavors!

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