Tuesday, June 9, 2015

2015 Molly: First Impressions

Hello everyone! My name is Molly McGovern – I am very excited and grateful to be working with NH Sea Grant on the Healthy Coastal Ecosystems projects as a Doyle Fellow this summer. Working alongside intern Myrilla Hartkopf, I am mentored by the awesome Alyson Eberhardt: Coastal Ecosystems Specialist for NHSG and UNH Cooperative Extension.

This fellowship will provide an enriching transition into my senior year at the University of New Hampshire as an Environmental Conservation Studies major. Growing up in New Jersey I was always captivated by the ever-changing coastal and marine ecosystems. Now that I have lived in New Hampshire since 2013, I have learned a lot not only about the ecosystems themselves, but also humans’ role in understanding and conserving them. 

I am excited to gain valuable experience in habitat restoration field work techniques as well as how to communicate successfully with communities and volunteers. There are three sand dune restoration projects that we will be working on this summer, each requiring communication with a diverse group of stakeholders and volunteers from the community and nearby schools. I am especially excited to be part of the beginning stages of a riparian buffer restoration project at the Sagamore-Hampton Golf Club. This will involve water quality monitoring as well as surveys of vegetation communities. I will also have the chance of helping with NH Sea Grant’s Coastal Research Volunteers’ projects which include eel monitoring, oyster restoration and beach microplastics monitoring.

Already, I’ve had the chance to participate in several of these projects in the field. My first day on the job was a perfect introduction to the NH Sea Grant world: a baseline fish survey of Lubberland Creek in the rain. We had a great posse of samplers including representatives from the Nature Conservancy, NHSG’s Coastal Research Volunteers, and even Dave from the podcast “Fish Nerds”. Trudging through the vegetated upper creek down into the salt marsh with sein nets and buckets, we identified, counted and measured fish species at several sites along the transect. I learned a lot about how the natural community can shift drastically in such a relatively small area in estuaries, as well as how to collect data for fish monitoring. Check out NHSG's flickr account for more photographs of the field day, as well as other photos of NHSG happenings: https://www.flickr.com/photos/nhseagrant/

Me, Alyson and two volunteers scour through the caught debris to find and measure fish on Lubberland Creek. Photograph taken by Becky Zeiber
My second day in the field and Myrilla’s first was at Hampton Beach State Park where Dover High School students brought beach pea plants they propagated at their greenhouses. They helped us plant the beach pea along with American beachgrass in the restoration area. It was awesome to meet younger people excited to learn about plants, dunes and the restoration project.

For the past two weeks Myrilla and I have been helping plant American beachgrass and other native dune plants on Plum Island for the Newbury sand dune project. We have had a solid team of ladies putting plants in the ground everyday, hoping to beat the heat and get as much area planted as possible. Check out Myrilla’s first post to learn more about our experiences with the dune projects so far.
An average day planting beachgrass on Plum Island, Newbury, MA (Photograph by Natalie Feldsine)
One of my favorite experiences so far has been the eel monitoring, carried out by NHSG Coastal Research Volunteers. Alyson’s extensive knowledge has opened my eyes to how amazing eels are, and how important it is to communicate that information to people - especially those whose lifestyles and decisions affect the eels. 

I am really looking forward to working with more volunteers and community members on these projects. Science is very important, but being able to communicate it is even more vital. As the weeks continue I know I will learn more about how to successfully do so! 

In the next few weeks we will continue working in the dunes, as well as starting work on the riparian buffer project. I’m curious to meet the other NH Sea Grant and NH Cooperative Extension interns to learn more about their projects for the summer. Look out for an update in the near future!


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