Over the past two summers, DCL and partner organizations have supported 10+ young adults by giving them paid internship opportunities that focused on learning about the interconnections that exist within the Cayuga Lake watershed. From interconnected waterways, to complex and related social and environmental issues, to people and organizations working together, the interns spent time learning – by doing and sharing ideas with eachother. Below is a description of her experience by Diana DeLuca, DCL’s Outreach & Marketing Intern in 2023.  She accomplished a lot and her work was very helpful!

For a list of current positions (reflective of previous years), or to find out more information or apply, please visit our Watershed Internship webpage.

Pictured below are interns examining watershed maps, beautifying our boat ramp and Diana in action getting some valuable footage.

“This summer my internship with DCL entailed doing many different tasks from teaching children, to editing and posting videos, to doing door to door outreach. When I first started my internship at the end of May, I assisted with the Trout in the Classroom trout releases. This entailed going to release locations and assisting with getting the trout from their tanks and collecting  supplies. Then I would explain to the students how to collect benthic macroinvertebrates in the streams with a large net and help them identify them. This was an important part of the program because these organisms are what their trout would be depending on as a source of food, so it was good for the students to be able to see and identify that there was a viable food source in the streams. Depending on the program, sometimes I would also take the children on a nature walk in order to get them familiarized with the environment and have them survey it to see if the conditions were appropriate to release their trout. After these two activities, we would help the children release their trout into the streams and answer any questions they had.  See the photos below of kids releasing their trout, and my fellow intern Wil helping them identify bugs.

Another early part of my internship was participating in floating classroom programs. For these programs, I usually was in charge of a certain “station”.  Whoever was in charge of each station would be switched depending on the day but I was able to lead activities that involved secchi disks, van dorns, plankton sampling and observing field conditions. By leading these stations, I learned how to interact with children and teach them about lake science by explaining to them the significance of the activity and sampling.  Although I did not have a lot of prior teaching experience, I really valued this aspect of the program as I gained the experience and was able to really appreciate the importance of environmental education. By teaching the children about the vitality of the watershed, I could actively see the connections and impacts being made for the future.

My experience with WIP and DCL was super enlightening. I gained so much experience from collecting samples to working with others, working independently, and how to teach kids. So many of our conversations felt very impactful and interesting, learning others point of views, and the joy of just being around like minded people was awesome.

The cruises I mainly attended were the community sunset cruises. Since these cruises primarily focus on culture and history through presentations and guest speakers, I aided in setting up and organizing some of the activities. These cruises also provide some of the more engaging opportunities for our older audiences so it was important for me to document these cruises and post about them on DCL’s social media. Going into another role I had this summer, I was also responsible for making posts on DCL’s  Instagram and Facebook accounts, as well as doing some general marketing for certain cruises. I documented several of DCL’s cruise programs such as the family eco-cruise, lake monitoring cruise, osprey eco-cruises, and several community sunset cruises.

With these pictures and videos, I created short, engaging videos or “reels”. These videos were a way to engage our virtual audience and showcase the fun and exciting programs happening on the boat. Other posts I did for social media and marketing were designing posts/posters for the perseid meteor shower cruise, which I heard ended up having a tremendous turnout. I would also sporadically post on the Instagram story in order to show that something was always happening on the boat and also since Instagram stories have picked up in popularity on the app. I was also able to collaborate and mentor the youth crew on how to make these posts. I developed a “tips and tricks” document for them so they could refer to it when they are in need of ideas or help in regards to posting.

Another small aspect of my internship was writing blog posts for the DCL website. I wrote a piece about our lake monitoring cruise and another piece about the youth crew. For the youth crew, I interviewed them individually to document their experience working for DCL and their future aspirations. I also wrote a promotional piece about DCL for a tourism company.

Outreach became another important part of my internship as that also ties in a bit to marketing. One of DCL’s goals is to connect with other local organizations in order to make sure the lake is accessible to everyone. To help reach this goal, I developed and designed an infographic about DCL’s values and programs to give to these organizations to give them an idea of what DCL does and what they are about. I then took this infographic and went to various organizations such as United Way of Tompkins County, Child Development Council, Ithaca Youth Bureau, etc. By doing this I went out of my comfort zone and learned how to talk to people on the spot and get my message across. Many of the organizations seemed very interested and mentioned a couple of opportunities they thought might be good for collaboration or promotion. I also was able to reach out and develop a connection with Open Door English. We then were able to schedule a meeting and eventually a cruise for their students which ended up having a great turnout.

Lastly, through the watershed internship program I was introduced to new people and organizations that I never knew about living in Ithaca. I think visiting these organizations and learning about what they do was very enriching and also empowering to see other people my age doing something to improve our town and watershed. My overall knowledge of watersheds and specifically the Cayuga lake watershed was drastically expanded this summer. Additionally, seeing all these organizations come together for a common goal was fulfilling and inspiring to me to want to get involved and improve my own watershed back home.

And sometimes I just joined in the fun, like for the Pirate Cruise we had for kids in August.  Intern Kit even brought her pet parrot with her! And the last photo is of all us after we gave our final presentations at Stewart Park and were gifted with Sunflowers to help us keep the Hope Alive.”

Position descriptions for 2024 are now online.  Several organizations are looking for help with Marketing and Outreach, however positions are also available related to Lake Monitoring, Data Collection, Youth Education, and more. Check out all the options here. Applications will begin to be reviewed on March 12th.