Thursday, September 15, 2011

Environmental Science major benefits from summer job with environmental services company

Mary Cargill (AU’12) is an Environmental Science and Biology major who spent the summer of 2011 interning with EnviroScience, a Stow, OH, based company that offers environmental services throughout the US and Canada. She worked for EnviroScience’s lake management division and was able to travel a lot for the job (Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Maryland, and Ontario)! Mary is very positive about this experience, saying “[o]verall, it was a very fulfilling internship that demonstrated how to apply all the knowledge I had acquired in the classroom... It's also convinced me to seek an environmental consulting position upon graduation.”

There are lots of opportunities in environmental consulting. Mary reports that this particular company has several departments, including “bioassay (water quality lab), commercial diving, ecological restoration, emergency response team, and lake management group. I worked along side aquatic biologists while assisting the lake management division this summer. I primarily assisted with their 'Milfoil Solution' which consists of using a native beetle (Milfoil Weevil) as a native biological control to control the invasive aquatic plant Eurasian Water Milfoil (EWM).”

The work Mary did used lots of knowledge and skills from her training at Ashland University. The milfoil weevils were collected and cultivated in the lab, numbers of eggs and larvae were assessed microscopically, and some statistical analyses were needed to assess these cultures. Before treatment was started at each lake site (for example, see photo of reservoir on Menominee River, WI), Mary and her colleagues had to do visual assessments (while scuba diving!) of Eurasian Water Milfoil density and the percentage of milfoil versus native plants. Next, she would “identify the type of milfoil present [there are several species], look for any visible damage to the plants, and also do a native plant survey... Determining the type of milfoil was essential because milfoil weevils only accept EWM and variable water milfoil as hosts...[Plant] transect [samples] would be brought back to the lab and be analyzed for existing weevil damage, eggs, larva and adults to determine whether or not there was a native weevil population.” After all this, seed population size would be recommended, weevils introduced to each site, and follow-up surveys conducted after a couple of months. And (of course!) “after the follow-up survey was completed I would write a final report.”

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