I cannot believe that this summer is coming to an end.
Interning at the National Marine Life Center completely made my summer and gave me friends and experiences that I will never forget. As marketing and animal care intern, I was able to see many different facets of the NMLC. On my first real day as an intern I worked a small festival with Bretton Carter, a long time NMLC volunteer. I was immediately overwhelmed by all of the questions that were thrown at us by people stopping by our booth, as well as challenges and accusations made by die hard, old-school fishermen who strongly opposed seal rehabilitation. It was the perfect way to start my summer at the NMLC, learning on my feet and taking cues from experienced volunteers and staff.
That’s pretty much how the rest of the summer went. There is so much that goes into keeping the Discovery Center and hospital running, that everyday is different. There is no way to train for every situation that may arise on a day-to-day basis, so all of us interns quickly learned to go with the flow and learn fast. One day the building started to intensively flood while a fellow intern and I were trying to clean the pod of an aggressive gray seal, Mary Arnold. We were on our own with nothing but a hose and a board as everyone else dropped what they were doing to bucket water out of the Discovery Center and make a makeshift canal for the water to drain into outside. I had never really worked with an animal as aggressive or large as Mary Arnold, and we were in tight quarters but we did what we were supposed to do and made it work. Another time, two bus loads of kids from different organizations showed up to the center on the same day because of a mix-up with dates. Instead of going crazy like some might do, the interns banded together, and divided and conquered with no issue.
Interning at the National Marine Life Center gave me experience working with marine animals, as you might expect, but it also gave me massive experience in working with people. Education programs such as ‘Little Flippers’ and ‘Marine Animal Medical Mystery’ gave me an opportunity to work with large groups of children and helped me to improve on my public speaking skills. In my opinion, it would be easier to restrain and treat a 100lb. seal for an hour, rather than keep 20+ preschoolers engaged and under control for the same amount of time. It takes a special kind of person to be an elementary school teacher, and I now have more respect for them than I ever have in the past.
Besides obtaining communication and animal husbandry skills, I have also gained a great respect for non-profit organizations. The National Marine Life Center does a tremendous amount of good, with very few resources. I will never, ever forget this summer and what the NMLC has taught me.