In addition to teaching the Young Marine Explorers program, I also helped with a variety of the scientific studies and partnerships that make CCFS a research station. Whether it was measuring coral plates, or counting spawning aggregations, the scientific diving experience I gained during the internship was invaluable to my career as a scientist. Not many people can say they snorkeled the entire Turneffe Atoll in less than a week, but it’s a regular task for the staff at Calabash Caye during lobster and conch surveys; one I thoroughly enjoyed.
Whether it was on land or in the water, the work being done at Calabash Caye extends far beyond Belize. I met scientists and students from all around the world during my time on the island. Apart from being able to participate in many of these research projects, I also got an insider’s view on how UB partners with local communities. One of my most memorable moments was the opportunity to sit in on an exclusive aquaculture training with Dr. Arlenie Rogers and local shrimp farmers that could prove to have an impact on the entire country of Belize. It was an honor to be seen as an equal, even as a student, and to be in amongst such great minds and discussions.
I saw hundreds of students and scientists come and go during my stay, but one reoccurring theme was the fact that everyone wished they could stay longer. Having stayed for three months on Calabash Caye, I got to live every scientist’s dream. I was able to accomplish my leadership challenge, gain scientific experience, work with world-renowned scientists, and touch the lives of hundreds of local students.
I couldn’t be more thankful for my experience in Belize, and the opportunity the UB ERI provided for me. I hope to be the first of many student internships that help students become scientists.