Greetings everyone!

Hi everyone! Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Patrick Peck, I am a Geoenvironemental Studies Major with a Biology minor and GIS certificate. I am currently attending Shippensburg University in South Central Pennsylvania, and expect to graduate this December. My passions are rooted in the outdoors, specifically in exploring and helping protect and conserve our aquatic world. Thanks to OWUSS, I will have the opportunity to do just that. This summer, I will have the honor of being the Dr. Jamie L. King REEF Environmental Education Foundation (REEF) Marine Conservation Intern.

I am deeply grateful for the funding and support of the Our World Underwater Scholarship Society. Everyone from the society has been immensely kind and helpful as this journey begins to unfold. I would also like to thank REEF for hosting the internship and giving me the opportunity to work, learn, and dive in the exciting and fun field of marine conservation. As appreciative as I am for this wonderful opportunity, I would also like to thank all those who have helped me get to this point, specifically the staff, faculty, and educators of the Geography and Earth Science Department at my school for preparing me and helping guide me in my academic pursuits, and the Chincoteague Bay Field station where I have begun my foray into Marine Science.

Living in Pennsylvania, the trip to Key Largo is about an 18 hour, 1,200 mile journey. Being a long voyage and summer, one’s first thought is usually road-trip. Unfortunately, during long car rides, I tend to get rather bored after the 5 hour mark. Thus, I took the less exciting train option. Amtrak operates a train from Lorton, Va to Orlando, FL where passengers can park their vehicles in specialized cars in the back, and enjoy the option of napping whenever one pleases toward the front. So after a series of long naps, I arrived in Orlando early one morning, and finished the uneventful journey to Key Largo.

While the trip down was uneventful, the internship has been far from that. In the first week alone, we had the opportunity to go diving and conduct our first fish survey (more on that in the next blog post), kayak through the mangroves at John Pennekamp State Park, dissect a lionfish, and assist in one of our first REEF events, one of the monthly Fish ID presentations. As well as all the fun and excitement of field work, the other interns and myself have been hard at work learning where everything is around the office, how to handle storefront orders and materials, and all the effort and work that goes into working at a non-profit. While REEF does keep us busy, I am so excited to be working all summer with such a fantastic and passionate group of people. I look forward to sharing all of this summer’s adventures so stay tuned for more!

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