As my time as a student comes to an end at Clemson University, so does my time as a Conservation of Marine Resources team member. I like to look back and see all the things I've learned and experienced.
I began with CMR in the summer of 2014. We left early in May of that year for the Florida Keys to conduct field research and returned near the end of July. Over that two and a half months I was submersed in a new environment (mostly water) that I fell in love with. I found that as long as I was thirsty for knowledge and kept my eyes peeled, there was more to be learned than I could fit into a Summer. For example, on my first ocean dive, the first thing I noticed was the clicking sound that resembled the sound of static or white noise. It never seemed to stop and I had no idea what it was. I later found out that the noise is caused by thousands and thousands of tiny snapping shrimp that inhabit and defend sponges and usually go unseen. The ocean is full of situations like this one. You can look at one piece of substrate, and to an untrained eye it looks like nothing, but with a little digging or conversing with Dr. C you may find that there are a multitude of ecological processes going on that you can't even see.
Along with the the knowledge I feel that I grew as a person in CMR. I became more comfortable presenting and talking in front of a crowd. I learned to trust myself and the original thoughts that I have. I gained a better understanding of the scientific process; I don't mean the one you learn in 7th grade but the process of conducting scientific research at a university or government level. I feel that understanding this process better enables me to form arguments and draw conclusions from things I observe and evaluate.
Lastly and perhaps most importantly, I gained new friendships. Unfortunately, we are at a time in our lives where each of us will inevitably move on and follow new opportunities and dreams but I will always have the friends that I made in CMR even when we go our separate ways. It's perfectly reasonable to think that ten years from now I would stop by wherever Randi may be to catch up, or show up in the Keys to help Kylie nail rebar under water. We are all chasing different dreams and goals and I want to wish each of my CMR teammates, my friends, the best of luck in all that they do. They are great people that will certainly do great things.