My name is Kendall Woods and I am a senior at Newburyport High School. This will be my fourth year on the Newburyport Gulf of Maine Institute “GOMI” team. This past summer I had the opportunity to work as an intern for the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge. I, along with several other GOMI interns, worked on projects dealing with invasive species, native plant gardening, and community engagement.
The first and largest project of the internship was Pepperweed eradication. Perennial Pepperweed is an invasive plant species which endangers the salt marsh by taking resources from native plants that are necessary to the ecosystem. Through late June to mid-late July we worked on eradicating it by manually pulling smaller clusters of the species, while the bigger clusters got sprayed. We pulled by foot and by boat on Plum Island, behind Plum Island, and on the Newburyport side of the Merrimack River. We used old data and recorded new data to track the Pepperweed.
The next project I worked on was the Parker River Visitor Center’s garden. The garden is home to numerous native plant species including pollinator plants, so it is very important to keep its maintenance up. This project taught me a lot about native plant species, such as their benefits to the environment. For example, their root systems increase the soil’s capacity to hold water, which helps control water runoff and flooding. They also don’t need pesticides and fertilizers to survive in this climate. Along with the maintenance of the garden, our goal was to transform the area into an interactive space for visitors to learn about native plant life. In order to attract more visitors, we made a brochure which included native and pollinator plant facts, photos of the garden, and a map.
Another extensive project the GOMI interns worked on was the August Climate Cafe. What this entailed was one of several community-based discussions we’ve led, all of which are centered around the goal of generating positive discussion and spreading knowledge about the day’s topic. The GOMI interns spent weeks assembling the necessary parts for the Cafe, beginning with brainstorming the main topic and supporting questions, then creating the activity, and finally writing scripts for the hosts and assembling the materials. The Cafe was very successful, with an attendance of around 45 community members discussing the question, “How do we as responsible citizens inspire others to take action on environmental issues within our community?” In the end, we, the GOMI interns, all learned a lot about what it takes to plan, organize, and lead a public event, which are crucial skills for our futures in the environmental world.
Kendall is a senior at Newburyport High School.