A new year on Pigeon Key means new interns! Join us in welcoming our 2024 Marine Science education interns for the season: Dezi Smith, Savanna Wilkinson, Megan Tavenner, and Alaina Evinger! They will be helping out with running our marine science camps, summer camps, and outreach events. We can’t wait for our upcoming student groups and neither can they! Read on to learn more about our interns.

Dezria (Dezi) Smith was raised in the beautiful and tranquil Southwest Florida. In the fall of 2023, she graduated from the University of Miami with a Bachelor of Science in Microbiology and Immunology and a Minor in Marine Science. Spending her whole life in the sunshine state, she has always been enamored with marine life and conservation; she has many memories of persuading her siblings to go to the aquarium instead of the zoo. Dezi recently studied abroad in London, and her distance from the ocean made her heart grow fonder. Her passion for learning and sharing her love for the ocean is what drew her to Pigeon Key. Dezi is excited for this upcoming season and can’t wait to “sea” where this internship takes her!

Savanna Wilkinson was raised in the heart of the Midwest in West Des Moines, Iowa. She is currently a student at Arizona State University and is majoring in Conservation Biology and Ecology and is pursuing a minor in Sustainability with plans to graduate in the spring of 2025. During family vacations in Florida when she was young, Savanna would spend hours at the beach searching for seashells and burrowing sand dollars to observe and admire. These experiences were the foundation of her growing passion for marine science, which encouraged her to move to Florida two years ago. Since then, she has earned her open water certification in Key Largo, and in 2022, she taught environmental education on Sanibel Island. Savanna is excited for the upcoming education season and to share her passions with the next generation of ocean advocates and explorers!

Megan Tavenner was born and raised in Northern Virginia, where her love for the ocean started with a dolphin obsession. Megan graduated from the University of South Carolina with a Bachelor’s degree in Marine Science, concentrating on Biological Oceanography, and is forever to thee a Gamecock fan. While studying, she gained experience in marine husbandry, scientific education, and coastal restoration through several internships, in addition to research skills working in a zooplankton and climate change lab. Megan loves spending time in the sun walking the Old Seven Mile Bridge, and being with her friends and dogs. Megan is passionate about conservation and education, and is excited to share her love for the water with everyone this season!

Alaina Evinger grew up in Northwest Ohio and got her degree from Bowling Green State University. She obtained her Bachelor’s degree in biology with a concentration in Marine Biology. She first fell in love with the ocean when she was young as her parents introduced her to many aquariums and took her fishing. She alwasy knew she wanted to pursue a career in marine biology from a young age. During her undergraduate years, she completed internships researching freshwater and saltwater fish, and also performed research tagging sharks. She also has experience working in wetlands. Alaina has always surrounded herself with the water, whether in a lab or researching marine organisms. Her experiences have allowed her to make her way to the Florida Keys where she now gets to teach the next generation of students here on Pigeon Key!