This past summer was originally supposed to be the best summer of my life, backpacking across Europe and going on South African safari rides. But, as many can probably relate, that all came crashing down around me in March when the world shut down due to coronavirus.
Still, it’s hard to complain about quarantining at home when home is on the south shore of Long Island and a 5 minute bike ride from the beach (although, it would be nicer if there were places to go diving).
I found things to occupy my newly found free-time, including relaxing at the beach and working as a hostess at a seafood restaurant. The amount of times I had to remind people to put their masks on, and got yelled at for it, is too many to count.
My favorite activity though, was working as a virtual volunteer for the New York Aquarium. Even though the zoos were all closed due to Co-vid restrictions, they still wanted to provide opportunities for the public to connect with the animals and continue to learn. As a Discovery Guide volunteer, I worked on a team to put together interactive and educational activities for kids that could be accessed virtually. It was such an amazing feeling to know I was helping people stay in touch with the aquarium even if they couldn’t visit in person, and give them something fun to do during the boring days of quarantine. It also taught me a lot, as I learned about the different animals that lived at the aquarium, and listened to seminars from professionals in the conservation field.
Here's an example of one of the activities we made.
But I was more than ready to come back to Clemson in August for the fall semester. I participated in Something Very Fishy spring semester of my freshman year, and now as a sophomore, this is my first semester with the Dr. Childress lab. Growing up by the coast, I’ve wanted to pursue marine conservation for a while, and worried about finding a research lab that interested me in the forestry-heavy focused areas at Clemson University. That made finding and being able to participate in the Childress lab so exciting, and I’m excited to continue, especially on the project I’m working on now concerning marine debris and how it affects organisms.