Forest Management major Sarah Bailey interned at the River Park North in Greenville, N.C. As the Biodiversity Intern, she identified tree species throughout the park and created new labels and maps for visitors to learn more about the trees and biodiversity of the park. She also promoted the park and visitor center through photography and social media, growing soft skills as she interacted with park visitors and employees. Back at NC State the University Scholar is heavily involved in the Leopold Wildlife Club, serving as the Tresurer, and the Edenton Street Campus Ministry Leadership Team. Check out Bailey’s hands-on experience through an internship supported by the CNR Student Assistance and Enrichment Fund.
Tell us more about your internship.
My main project was renovating outdoor tree identification examples along with improving the corresponding map. I am also still working on 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 resources work. I was able to be outdoors a lot finding the tree species, pruning and installing identification tags, as well as working with the city government and completing 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 other requirements.
What did you enjoy most about your experience?
One of my favorite parts of the internship was working with NC Wildlife Resource Commission (NCWRC) and US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). I talked with the fisheries technician who restocked the fishing ponds about the restocking process, fisheries management and careers in NCWRC. I also participated in bat mist-netting with the USFWS. This 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 also as we talked about college and career paths.
What did you find most challenging?
The most challenging aspects were handling unexpected delays in my projects as well as government red tape. 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 before I could order any supplies. We also had to go through a long chain of city officials to finish the NC Natural Heritage Registry.
Would you recommend this experience to other students?
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 as well as ask for help when I needed it. I would certainly recommend interning to others because it is invaluable real world experience.
Have you participated in other hands-on experiences?
Last semester I took Special Topics in Natural Resources (NR 295). The class helped me understand how to start, plan, execute and analyze research on a deeper level. As a freshman, this class really helped me understand the research process better, which helped me in other classes, and will be a strong foundation for other research opportunities I get involved with at NC State.
What do you enjoy most about being a CNR student?
I love how small and connected the College of Natural Resources is. The professors and faculty really care about each student and help us find relevant opportunities and ways to make those opportunities happen.