This is the first blog post as part of our Dibblers’ Diaries blog, which offers first-person stories from our interns. Summer Rich is a coastal policy and restoration intern. This first post recaps her first week with the North Carolina Coastal Federation.

By Summer Rich

Photo by Sam Bland.

Being a native of the North Carolina coast, I’ve got salt water running through my veins. That’s why I appreciate when I see “Salt Life” and North Carolina coast stickers every summer on cars from all over. In a way, these stickers have become an indicator of a person’s love and appreciation of the coast. I first became aware of the North Carolina Coastal Federation’s work when my dad was brought on to do freelance articles for the online news service, Coastal Review Online. My dad often talks about the awesome work the federation does along the coast. I quickly learned that the federation plays a very important role in protecting our beautiful coast, so much so that even people on the other side of the state are motivated to advertise on their cars and trucks.

Summer Rich (pictured right) and Jaclyn McGarry, coastal policy and restoration interns, plant salt marsh grass during their first week. Photo by Sam Bland.

I was thrilled when I was awarded an internship with the federation this summer. There are five other interns from all over the place, yet our love and appreciation of the coast is unanimous. Our first week flew by. Monday consisted of the typical orientation activities, while project meetings took up most of our time on Tuesday. On Wednesday, we all traveled to Oriental where we planted a living shoreline using wetland plants native to the area. I was amazed by how simple the concept behind the living shoreline was. We then moved to another piece of property, where we laid out 200 8-pound bags of oysters as an alternative method to bulkheads. At first, it was just the federation and the property owners watching the project, but neighbors from the surrounding community slowly showed up to watch the process. It was great to see just how interested the surrounding community was in living shorelines. Although my arms were sore and I smelled like fish, it was one of the most rewarding volunteer efforts I’ve been part of.

On Thursday, the interns and several other federation staff members attended a workshop on watershed planning and management that the North Carolina Coastal Reserve & National Estuarine Research Reserve held in partnership with the federation. I was personally a little intimidated when I heard we would be attending an engineering-heavy workshop. However, the presenters were phenomenal and explained the concepts in an understandable way so that everyone present could understand. The amount of community members who wanted to learn about ways to reduce the volume of stormwater runoff entering our waterways was promising. After the workshop, everyone present went on a tour of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration lab and the Duke Marine Lab to learn about the stormwater runoff reduction measures put in place. Friday, we came back to the office where we continued to work on our individual projects and attended a brief grant writing workshop led by the federation’s federal grants writer. Even after just one week, I was already loving my time at the federation.