Read on to hear about Anna Roach’s experiences on Pigeon Key so far!
Coming into this position as a Marine Science Education Intern, I didn’t have many expectations or know the full extent of the Pigeon Key Foundation. I did my research on their social media account and website and knew that living on a five-acre island in the Florida Keys would be a once and a lifetime opportunity. I also knew this role would combine my two passions: marine science and education, and that was more than enough for me to accept the position. So far, between the labor-intensive days of maintaining the island and exciting days with groups on the island, there’s never a shortage of activity, and you can always find time to lay low and do your own thing.
The first few weeks consisted of getting acquainted with the island and how it operated. We learned where everything goes, how a typical day looks, the history of the island, and the programs we would teach the middle and high schoolers. Each week, we would present a program to the upper staff and they would give us pointers, so we can better teach the groups. Some programs include Invertebrate Biodiversity, Shark Biology, Florida Keys Habitats, and Marine Debris.
Those first couple weeks were key in allowing us to build our confidence on the island and become comfortable with how it’s run. On the days we weren’t learning material, we were cleaning the buildings on the island and doing a diverse set of tasks. What I enjoyed most about those hot, labor-intensive days was jumping off the dock and snorkeling around after work. Within these first few weeks, all the interns had ample time to get to know each other through game nights, hanging out on the dock, and even the occasional trips off the island.
One of my favorite things we do with groups is tide pooling. Tide pooling is done after the Invertebrate Biodiversity program and consists of walking around the edge of the island, only going about knee deep, and flipping over rocks to see what lives under them. During the program, we teach students about the diversity of the invertebrates on Pigeon Key and how to collect them. Once we have collected the different invertebrates, we bring them to the wet labs where we will go into more detail about what we found.
Tide pooling is also all of the interns’ favorite thing to do when groups aren’t on the island because you will always find something new! During our first week here, we spent almost every evening walking around the island’s edge with our headlamps, looking at the biodiversity during our nocturnal tide pool sessions. Another two of my favorite things to enjoy are the sunrises and sunsets. We are outside pretty much every hour of the day, so starting my morning with coffee and the sunrise and ending the day on the dock with the sunset gives me time to slow down.
I’m looking forward to having more groups come to Pigeon Key and teaching them something new about our marine environment and conservation. Each group has been unique in their background and showing them what we are passionate about can strike a new passion in them. I’m also looking forward to Pigeon Key’s Marine Science Summer Camp! We have heard so many entertaining stories from our upper staff about summer camp and I can’t wait to create new memories with kids who get to stay on the island for a week. I am also looking forward to getting my Florida Fishing License, so I can fish for my dinner and try new recipes.
Since most of the interns went to college during COVID-19, this is our first internship opportunity, and all of us are in agreement that we struck gold! As an intern, you learn the most random skills and each day brings a new task. You get to teach kids what you’re passionate about and continue to learn new things. Being a Pigeon Key Marine Science Education Intern is hard work but it is so rewarding, so bring on the rest of the season!