Learning doesn’t stop when summer starts for students at West Virginia University. One is supplementing her own education by teaching others about a fragile and fascinating ecosystem.

Britani Chambers, an agribusiness management and rural development student from St. Marys, W.Va., is completing an internship as an environmental educator with the Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserves at St. Jones Reserve headquartered in Dover.

She describes the experience as “unlike anything I have ever done. I felt that it was good for me to get away and experience a new area and career options.”

Chambers has previously volunteered with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Resource Conservation Service, in addition to summer work as a bank teller.

“This is my first internship educating children and groups about the environment, teaching about things like horseshoe crabs, estuaries, wildlife, plants, and invasive species,” Chambers said. “It’s humbling to see the look on a child’s face when they hold a horseshoe crab for the first time.”

The experience is also helping Chambers refine her career goals and explore new options. “I had originally thought before coming over here that I wanted to stick with just strictly business, but now I’m learning to appreciate the importance of the environment and how it ties back into agriculture with water runoff and soil erosion.”

When she returns to Morgantown in the fall, she expects to come back with “a better understanding of the environment and the importance of educating the public,” along with keener skills in marketing and planning.

“I would recommend to other students to branch out of their comfort zones and maybe try an internship that they might be hesitant about,” Chambers said. “It has certainly helped me refine my career goals after graduation.”

Gerard D’Souza, director of the Division of Resource Management in WVU’s Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design, agrees with his student.

“Internships are a great way, and indeed essential, to link the classroom with the outside world,” D’Souza said. “By enriching a student’s skill set and understanding of the world around them, an internship makes that student more employable after graduation.”

The Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve is one of 28 National Estuarine Research Reserves across the country whose goal is to establish, protect, and manage natural estuarine habitats for research, education, and coastal stewardship. It was established in 1993, and is a cooperative program between the State of Delaware and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.



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