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Due to the Memorial Day weekend, we began our week on Tuesday with internship headshots and an Everglades 101 discussion led by Dr. Kristie Wendelberger. During the discussion, we took a deeper look at the causes of Everglades degradation and how the Foundation works to protect and restore it. In particular, I was drawn to the Foundation’s George Barley Water Prize – a competition with a ten-million-dollar prize awarded to the team that creates a large-scale, cost-effective method to remove phosphorus from freshwater sources. It’s so inspiring! As Kristie put it, even if the perfect solution isn’t designed, the competition advances the technology necessary to reach a solution.

Thea taking notes during our Everglades 101

We had another office day on Wednesday, where we continued to work on our personal projects. Adele, our education intern, began developing a 7th and 8th grade Everglades history curriculum focusing on primary source material and Native American voices for the Everglades Literacy Program. Thea, our science communication intern, started working on The Science Insider, and is currently translating the Central Everglades Planning Project (CEPP) to make the policy more digestible for the general public. Luis, our science communication intern, is creating a pamphlet that will be used on tours to help people identify animals and plants in the Everglades. I (Natalia), the policy and science digital communication intern, just started my project which will analyze economic studies about the Everglades region, extract critical statements and numbers, and form a visual representation of those facts.

Kristie showing us periphyton during our WCA 2 airboat tour

On Thursday we were able to see the points Kristie made during our Everglades 101 in the field as we took an airboat tour through Water Conservation Areas (WCA) 2 and 3. WCA 2 is closer to Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades Agricultural Area, causing it to have some distinctive differences when compared to WCA 3. Higher water and higher nutrient levels have led to cattails choking out native species like Sawgrass, leaving the area lacking in species diversity. Out of the hundreds of tree islands that once housed WCA 2, only 17 have survived. We could see much greater species diversity and larger tree islands in WCA 3.

A trio, ready to take their first swigs of water after a long airboat ride

The WCA 3 tour guide, Ken, took us to a private rehabilitation area where we were able to hold a BABY ALLIGATOR! Did you know that an alligator’s sex is determined by temperature? In the Everglades, the bottom-dwelling peat is usually warmest so the deeper eggs tend to be male and the surface eggs tend to be female. On our way home we stopped by a gas station and bought two gallons of water. We were so thirsty almost finished them both!

With some office time on Friday, I was able to work on the blog while everyone else worked on their projects. We’re blown away at how quickly time has flown by!

See you next week!

– The Cleverglades Interns


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