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Shelley Dawicki
508 495-2378

August 25, 2008
166 Water Street
Woods Hole MA 02543

Erin Rockwell (Rochester, N.Y.)

Erin Rockwell close-up
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Complete with waders, Erin Rockwell prepares for a collecting trip. (Credit: Woods Hole Science Aquarium/NOAA)
Rockwell poses with Lavender, an endangered Kemp's Ridley turtle rehabilitated at the Woods Hole Science Aquarium. The marine turtle was equipped with a satellite tag and released in July. (Credit: Woods Hole Science Aquarium/NOAA)
Related Links
Woods Hole Science Aquarium
Bradford E. Brown Student Internship Program

Erin Rockwell of Rochester, N.Y., admits she was “a bit nervous” about traveling to Woods Hole, Mass., and participating in a marine science career program.  It was her first time away from home, but said she felt comfortable as soon as she met Woods Hole Science Aquarium (WHSA) Curator George Liles and the other 11 high school and college students who also spent the summer working or volunteering at the Aquarium.

Feeding fish, training two harbor seals, cleaning tanks, leading shoreside collecting trips for the public, and helping children and adults learn about marine animals at the touch tanks were all part of her daily routine.

The WHSA, the nation's oldest public research display aquarium, offers two summer programs for students who have completed grade 10 or higher, a five-week internship and a two-week career seminar in late July. Both programs are run by the WHSA staff, and are projects of the Northeast Fisheries Science Center, which operates the Aquarium and is part of NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service, and the neighboring private non-profit Marine Biological Laboratory. A summer college student internship program is also available.

Rockwell participated in the two-week Careers in Marine Science Seminar July 21 to August 1, along with seven other high school students from California, Utah and Massachusetts and three college interns. Several seminar students, including Rockwell, stayed on as interns for an additional one to two weeks to help with animal husbandry and to serve as junior naturalists on collecting walks.
As a career seminar student she received training in marine animal husbandry and basic aquarist chores, heard presentations from scientists working in a variety of marine fields, went on collecting trips, visited other Woods Hole science institutions, and went on field trips to New Bedford and Nantucket.

The seminar is designed to give students an idea of what people working in Woods Hole do and how different areas of science contribute to the larger effort to understand the marine world and to manage marine resources wisely.

 The annual program also provides students with the opportunity to work with a professional staff caring for a collection of about 140 species of fish and invertebrates common to the continental shelf from Maine to North Carolina, two harbor seals named LuSeal and Bumper, and sometimes sea turtles held for rehabilitation and eventual release.

Rockwell is homeschooled, and although a high school junior she attends Monroe Community College in Rochester, where she took a biology class last year. She will take three classes at the college in the fall, including the next level biology course.

During past summers, she has taken a class at the Buffalo Zoo focused on veterinary care for zoo animals, volunteered for several summers at the Genesee Country Museum, and participated in a summer camp there. She had visited Cape Cod and the WHSA before with her family and knew she would love to work with marine animals and work in an aquarium, never thinking she would have that opportunity.

Rockwell especially enjoyed the “behind-the-scenes” aquarium experience, being outside on collecting trips and visits to other organizations. She said she has learned about many aspects of marine animals, marine science research and conservation, and possible careers.

“I considered marine biology as a possible career before I came to Woods Hole, but now I am convinced this is what I want to do,” she said of the experience. “Getting actual experience at something you think you might want to do is important. I even liked cleaning the tanks and helping around the aquarium with everything there is to do. It was a lot of fun.”

The group was kept busy during the day, and enjoyed many activities together at night and on weekends, from playing soccer and seeing the latest Batman film at the local theater to a bonfire on the beach. They even spent a “Night at the Aquarium,” eating pizza, playing games and sleeping on the conference room floor.

Rockwell said her WHSA summer experience was successful and met all her expectations.  “I learned a lot, got to work with marine animals, met a lot of cool people, and went home happy.”


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