Chesapeake Summer, Colonial Times

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Getting Real

Reverse culture shock is real….especially when you never let yourself fully engage in it. If you recall, shortly after I returned home from the Galapagos, I moved to Williamsburg, VA for my internship. I began working 8 hour days, 5 days a week, then went to the gym all evening, made food, slept and repeat. I never gave myself much time to think about what I learned from my experiences and how I was impacted.

After my internship, I had a short period of down time for travel and relaxation before I was back on Juniata’s campus for tour guide training and cheerleading. It was difficult coming back to living on campus for the first time in a year while learning about everything that has changed while I was away. Luckily, I have great roommates to help me with this transition but it is still hard for me. Our Center for International Education has hosted events for study abroad returners to give us a place to talk and discuss our transition process. It has been really great to have that resource.

Roommates Deanna (left) and Mara (middle) in our new home Pink Palace

That being said, I finally feel like I have somewhat of a routine on campus again and can start finding time to write about my most recent experience. It is long overdue, but better late than never.


The Internship

Just to recap from my last post, this summer I participated in my NOAA Hollings Scholarship internship at the Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (CBNERR) at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS). Since VIMS is the graduate school of marine science for William and Mary, I learned more about graduate school options for my future.

My Project: Translating Chesapeake Bay Research and Stewardship Projects into Useful, Hands-on Education Products

This is a paraphrase of my previous post but I felt it was important to explain again. I worked with both the stewardship coordinator, Scott Lerberg, and the education coordinator, Sarah Nuss, to enhance education on Chesapeake Bay environmental issues and current restoration projects. I only had 9-weeks to plan, conduct, and analyze my project. The 10th week was a presentation at NOAA headquarters in Silver Spring, MD.

My project was 2-fold: first, I created a lesson plan based on the current National Estuarine Research Reserve System’s thin-layer placement (TLP) project and then I made an interactive digital version using Esri Story Map.

The basic definition of TLP is the purposeful placement of sediment or dredged materials to a specified thickness to provide higher elevation for marshes to withstand sea level rise and erosion. The National Estuarine Research Reserve System is comprised of 29 locations and 8 of these are home sites for the two-year TLP restoration experiment. CBNERR-VA is one of these sites and I was able to participate in monitoring of the experiment first hand.

Esri’s ArcGIS Story Map is an evolving tool that allows end users to explore a topic through images, videos, interactive maps, data, figures, and text. This platform is accessible for educators, researchers, industry professionals, and even students. I highly recommend this for teachers or for public outreach. I already knew how to use GIS (mapping software called Geographic Information Systems), but this allowed me to use it in a different way to reach the public.

The second step of my project included piloting the tools with students and receiving evaluations from teachers on both the traditional and digital platforms. This included interviews with both groups to gain their perspectives on digital learning vs. traditional learning of science. I was able to access both teachers and students over the summer through two of the CBNERR events: Teachers on the Estuary (TOTE) workshop and VIMS/CBNERR summer camp.

The TOTE workshop was held at VIMS Eastern Shore Laboratory in Wachapreague, VA. This week long workshop is designed to train teachers on research and field methods in their local estuary. This allows NERRs to create connections with teachers and show them what tools are available to enhance their classroom instruction. Teachers had the opportunity to go into the field and practice what they can teach. I used this week to interview them for my project and have them sign up to review my tools.

Some images below are thanks to CBNERR-VA Staff, VIMS Staff, and fellow teachers.


The VIMS/CBNERR summer camp was also a one week experience for rising 9th graders and above to learn about the Chesapeake Bay, environmental stewardship, future careers, and to train to be a junior camp counselor for future camps. I used this week with our students to interview them about their technology use in class, I practiced teaching my lesson, and also had them explore the digital tool. Some images below are thanks to CBNERR-VA Staff.


My everyday work was different each week. In the beginning, I was working more with the stewardship team doing field work in the reserve sites. I got to visit each of the four reserve sites and learn about all the projects ongoing at CBNERR-VA. Here’s some photos from my field work adventures!

I then transitioned into thinking more about my project and writing my lesson plan. Once my lesson plan was closer to completion, I was able to begin my Story Map. From there, it was a lot of computer work but I got to break it up by going to TOTE and helping with the VIMS summer camp.

I also helped with two Discovery Labs, which are themed public outreach nights for all ages to come and learn about science at VIMS.


Through these experiences, I learned a lot about the lack of resources and difficulties teachers are facing in our developing technological society. I also was able to understand how students respond to technology and what learning styles they prefer. Overall, I was able to create the first story map for CBNERR-VA and understand how to help science teachers effectively teach science while using technology. This will help NOAA and the NERRs system better equip teachers to share estuarine science.

Personally, I learned how to conduct research in education, how to effectively teach science, how to create and design a lesson plan, how to create a story map, and the importance of estuarine stewardship. I gained a new understanding in my role as a scientist with a passion for outreach. Interacting with the students during my lesson and watching them interact with the digital tool was one of the highlights of my summer. It was great to see my hard work have a positive impact on students.


Adulting 101

This summer, I was forced to be more independent than I ever have been before and be an…..*gasp* ADULT! It was great practice for my next steps after graduation (which as of right now is getting a job…more about that later). Although I spent my summer working a 40-hour week and going to the gym everyday, I found some time to have fun and enjoy colonial Williamsburg.

For the summer, I lived in a house with William and Mary students in Williamsburg, just 20 minutes away from VIMS, which is down the York River in Gloucester. I lived a 5 minute walk from Colonial Williamsburg and had easy access to a direct drive to VIMS on the Colonial Parkway. I loved the people I lived with and the friends I made this summer. I lived in a beautiful place and there was always something to do. They also showed me the local bar scene.

One of my favorite things to do included going to the farmers market on Saturday mornings. I got local vegetables, fruits, soaps, and kombucha! Check out my favorites from the Willliamsburg Farmer’s Market: Ninja Kombucha, Virginia First Tea Shop, Glow Holistic, and Tasha’s Own (lovely goat milk soap).

In addition, I was able to enjoy visiting Colonial Williamsburg and Historic Jamestown with my family when they visited and with friends.

On my own, I ran in many different parks and sat on many riverside beaches.


Thank you CBNERR-VA for having me this summer. Also, thank you for the lovely farewell dinners!

There are so many amazing things to do in this area and I truly loved it. Thank you to my College of William and Mary friends for taking me in for the summer.

Follow my Facebook Page that I am finally uploading photos and videos to!


Coming and going

*Sometimes I use affiliate links in my content. This won’t cost you anything and will not harm our mother earth. I just might get some funding to go toward filling my logbook and sharing more with you.

Hi, it’s me. Writing to you, back in the United States.

Leaving the islands was hard. I was excited to come home but I could not imagine being away from the place I knew and loved without knowing when I would return.

It was especially hard to leave knowing all the responsibilities waiting for me at home. A few weeks after arriving home, I was moving to Williamsburg, VA for my summer internship.

Everyone asked me while I was home, “Will you be staying here for the summer?” and I just kinda laughed.

“Now why would I do that?” I would respond.

As much as I love being home, with my family and friends, that is just not in the cards for me. I won’t say that’s not who I am, but my drive to adventure, experience new things, and educate myself in different places is too strong.

Coming and going. That’s what I do.


Lima, Peru

Before heading back to the US, I decided to take one last adventure in South America and use my connections. I flew to Lima, Peru and spent the week with a friend I met on the Galapagos, who now works at a restaurant in Lima.

I really enjoyed getting to know Barranco and Miraflores, two of the districts in Lima. It was awesome to have my own town guide and I ate AMAZING food while I was there.

List of Restaurants I went to in Lima:

I loved walking along the coastline. The view was beautiful and there were tons of dogs!



One of my favorite places was Parque Kennedy, where dozens of cats live. You can see them hoping to get a bite parked next to the food vendors or people enjoying their snacks on a bench.

Parque del Amor

Enjoy these pictures from my Lima adventure:

It also was a nice stepping stone before going back home to help me get used to being back in “civilization”. Since I was so excited to go to Peru, I was not as upset while leaving the island. However, I knew once I got home, I would start to feel the sadness creep in slowly but surely.


Back in the USA

I was happy to see my mom, my brother, my grandparents, and my friends. However, there were a lot of things I did not miss, such as the fast paced lifestyle. I have the whole reverse culture shock feeling, which has been difficult to deal with.

I spent my first few days at home resting. I was extremely tired from my travels. Eventually I worked my way back into driving, throwing toilet paper in the toilet, and speaking English. I tried to relax for a little because in a few short weeks, I was packing my things up again and going South, but not as far this time.

While home, I saw my friends and my doctors, tried aerial yoga, visited the Distinguished Young Women of Maryland orientation, celebrated my birthday 21st birthday, swung by the local farmers market, ate at the Greek festival, and went to the Boonsboro Green Fest with my mom.


Gilman Scholarship/Follow-on Project

Also while I was home, I completed part of my Follow-on Service Project for the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship. I went back to my high school, Middletown High School, to present to students about studying abroad in the Galapagos. Some classes even read my blog prior to my arrival and had questions prepared about my experiences. I talked with biology, Earth sciences, and Spanish courses. It was certainly a rewarding experience for me. I had several students come up to me after to ask more questions or thank me for coming. I am glad I was able to spark interest in study abroad or certain careers for students. It was moments like those when I was in high school that really opened my eyes to the opportunities world holds and what could be my future. Thank you MHS for having me!


Down South: Williamsburg, VA

On May 26th, I packed my car and drove a few hours down to Colonial Williamsburg. Why the heck did I do that?!

Well, it has been awhile since I talked about my internship for the summer as part of my Hollings Scholarship. If you remember my post from December, I visited where I was going to work and met my mentors. Seems like forever ago. The Hollings Scholarship requires students to figure out locations and projects pretty early on, which was nice so I did not have to worry about any of it while I was abroad. Before I left, I even had my housing figured out thanks to my connections from DYW!

This summer, I am working at NOAA’s Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in Virginia. The reserve is on the campus of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS). My internship is 10-weeks long, including the last week where we present our projects at NOAA headquarters in Silver Spring, MD.


My Project: Translating Chesapeake Bay Research and Stewardship Projects into Useful, Hands-on Education Products

So the idea of my internship is to work both with the stewardship coordinator, Scott Lerberg, and the education coordinator, Sarah Nuss, to help share more of the work being done on the bay in educational settings. We met together and they shared their visions. There are so many projects I wanted to do with them and ideas we had, but unfortunately I only have 9-weeks to plan, conduct, and analyze my project.

We looked at what resources were available to me and decided on a project. I will be creating a traditional lesson plan and a digital lesson plan using Esri’s Story Map to teach about marshland restoration and sea level rise. Specifically, I will be drafting a lesson that explains thin layer placement as a restoration technique and discuss a current experiment throughout many of the NERRs system.

Not only am I making these two avenues to teach students but I will be 1) interviewing teachers at a teacher workshop about their experience with technology and digital learning, 2) having teachers evaluate the lessons, 3) piloting the lessons with high school students at a summer camp, and 4) interviewing students before and after the lesson to evaluate their learning preference.


What is thin layer placement?

You’ll find out once I finish my Story Map….or you can Google it…

See you next month when I finish up my adventures on the Chesapeake Bay!

Until then, follow my Facebook Page that I am finally uploading photos and videos to!