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Times at River Park North

My internship was at a city park called River Park North in my hometown of Greenville, NC. I was the natural sciences intern for the summer and worked with a parks and rec intern, student park attendants, and full time staff. It was a helpful and enjoyable experience as every day was different and presented new opportunities.
   My main project was renovating outdoor tree identification examples along with improving the corresponding map. I also worked on, and am continuing to work on now, a secondary project with NC Natural Heritage to get a section of the park registered as important natural habitat.  These two projects allowed me to experience multiple sides of natural resource work. I was able to be outdoors finding the tree species, pruning, and installing identification tags, as well as work with the city government, complete desk work, and do paperwork. Another aspect of my internship was working with the public. River Park North has an interactive nature center as well as fishing piers, kayaks, and john boats. I learned about the many categories of running a city park such as safety, communicating with visitors, upkeep of the facility, animal care, and certain requirements.
   One of my favorite parts of the internship was working with NC Wildlife Resource Commission and US Fish and Wildlife Service. I was able to talk with the fisheries technician who restocks the fishing ponds about the process, fisheries management, and careers in NC WRC. I also got to participate in bat mist-netting with the US FWS which was a really unique experience! I worked with two professionals who had set up four mist-nets on one of our trails to learn about the bat species in Greenville/Pitt County. Once we caught some bats, I helped with data collection and learned about bat health, anatomy, misconceptions, and other interesting facts. It was a great way to network because we talked about college and career paths as I spent the evening working with them.
   The most challenging aspects were handling unexpected delays in the projects as well as dealing with
government red tapes. I was not always able to make as quick of progress as I wanted due to these issues. For example, we had to wait until the new fiscal year (July 1) before I could order any supplies. We also had to go through (and still are) a long chain of city officials in order to finish the NC Natural Heritage Registry.
   However, this internship was a very beneficial experience. I learned a lot about working in city government and being flexible. My communication skills improved from working with other students as well as the public. It also helped me step outside my comfort zone and network with more professionals. I would certainly recommend interning to others because it is an invaluable real world experience.