Emily Bodell ’17
Internship: Napatree Point Conservation Area, Watch Hill, R.I.
Funding source: Wheaton Fellowship Program
Returning to a childhood favorite: “I have been visiting Napatree Point since I was a child—I would spend hours swimming, collecting shells, crabbing, and bird watching. When I learned about the conservancy and the work that they were doing on Napatree, I was immediately interested in working with them to protect this area, which still remains one of my favorite places to visit.”
Watching over an important place: “The Watch Hill Conservancy is a nonprofit organization that works to preserve the natural and historic manmade landmarks in Watch Hill, Rhode Island. The Napatree Point Conservation Area is one of the conservancy’s major initiatives. The point, around 1.5 miles long, acts is a crucial habitat for a variety of terrestrial and aquatic species, including the federally threatened Piping Plover, as well as ospreys, oystercatchers, horseshoe crabs, and many species of fish. During my internship, I participated in many of the projects going on at Napatree, including beach patrol, horseshoe crab surveys, bat surveys, marsh edge monitoring, piping plover surveys in collaboration with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, educational programming, water quality testing, and special events.”
Taking initiative: “As an independent project, I deployed a motion-activated trail camera in a densely-vegetated area at the end of the point in order to determine mammal activity. The data collected will be compared to photographs taken on the camera during the winter months to see how different the mammal activity is seasonally. Each of the monitoring or survey projects established on Napatree provide informative data about the condition of the habitat on Napatree, the species present in the area, and the success of those species and the habitat over time.”
Learning to adapt: “I learned that I love working in the field, whether I’m collecting data, searching for piping plover nests, or seining for fish. I enjoy the challenge associated with working in an environment in which there are always shifting variables—some days it may be pouring rain, or your test site is submerged in the high tide, or all of the piping plover chicks you are counting are hiding in the dunegrass, completely blending in with their sandy backdrop. I learned that I can adapt to these changing situations and ultimately achieve the goal I set out to complete despite potentially difficult circumstances.”
Prepared for the future: “Many of the courses I have taken for the biology major, including ornithology, geology, coastal zone management, and environmental science provided me with a solid foundation of knowledge that I could apply at my internship. I hope to pursue a career in marine biology, more specifically working in conservation education or field research. This internship was perfect because I was able to gain experience in both fields by participating in the education programming as well as working side by side with scientists as they established or continued to monitor their projects.”