August 16, 2021

Leveraging the relationships of Susquehanna’s Freshwater Research Institute and its collaborators, students majoring in the natural sciences have been placed in summer internships up and down the Susquehanna River.

Ecology major Mason Grim '22 interned with Trout Unlimited. Ecology major Mason Grim ’22 interned with Trout Unlimited.Morgan Thomas ’24, a double major in ecology and earth and environmental sciences, interned with the Middle Susquehanna Riverkeeper Association, while ecology major Mason Grim ’22 interned with Trout Unlimited. Other FRI students interned at the Chesapeake Conservancy, Northcentral Pennsylvania Conservancy, Susquehanna River Basin Commission and Union County Conservation District.

“Our students already benefit from the many collaborations underway at the FRI, which provide them with a web of professional connections across the Susquehanna River watershed and into the Chesapeake Bay,” said Kathy Straub, interim dean of the School of Natural and Social Sciences and professor of the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences. “This year’s summer internship program has taken those collaborations further by placing our students within those organizations to gain hands-on experience in the fields they hope to work in after they graduate from Susquehanna.”

Thomas, of Northampton, Pennsylvania, completed public relations and promotional work on behalf of the Middle Susquehanna Riverkeeper Association, which is dedicated to protecting, improving and preserving the health of the middle Susquehanna River watershed.

Thomas wrote blog articles, created e-newsletters and headed the association’s participation in local community events by creating a display that explained the work of the Middle Susquehanna Riverkeeper Association. She also managed the association’s social media accounts during the summer, which included promoting the association’s survey and water reporter mobile application.

“The survey is meant to give those in our watershed an opportunity to provide the association with important information about pollution in our waterways and on our association’s work,” Thomas explained. “The app lets people report concerns while fishing, or to share cool findings while enjoying nature.”

The most important part of her internship, Thomas said, was assisting the organization with HERYN, Helping Engage our River’s Youth with Nature, a daylong program that teaches children ages 9-13 about proper fishing and kayaking techniques through games and competitions.

“We guided kids from different stations, keeping them excited and encouraged as the day went on,” Thomas said. “At the end of each day, I gave a presentation about pollution in our watershed and the ways they could help make change at home. It was really neat to learn along with the kids and make connections with them.”

As a field intern for Trout Unlimited, the nation’s oldest and largest cold-water fisheries conservation organization, Grim, of Hawley, Pennsylvania, collected data to assess the condition of some of the state’s unassessed tributaries that lead into various creeks. He also worked on surveying for healthy populations of trout, restoration of stream habitats and sediment protocols.

“One major highlight of working with Trout Unlimited is being able to go to different places in Pennsylvania and see how beautiful this state really is,” Grim said. “I’ve also enjoyed being able to find wild and native trout in places where you would not expect to find them.”

Grim’s internship validated his career aspirations, and he hopes the experience leads to quickly landing a job that he would be happy working in for the rest of his career. Thomas echoed his thoughts.

“I’m so thankful to have received this opportunity as it allowed me to get a glimpse at what working in the environmental field will be like,” she said. “I got to explore both environmental conservation and education work, which are definitely my top career goals.”