Pretty Dirty Daily

An internship is not something you must put off until your senior year of college. I knew there might be other opportunities, but why pass up a good one right here in Muncie after just my first year of school?  Getting my internship done this summer relieves the pressure in later years when I may have another great option in mind.

The Bureau of Water Quality is connected to the Muncie Sanitary District and offers a handful of internships every summer to students. With some knowledge of biology, you can be hired onto one of two crews, either the macroinvertebrate crew or the fish crew, all under the prestigious title of seasonal aquatic biologist. As part of the fish crew, we learned how and practiced electrofishing at specific stretches of the White River Watershed, then sorted out the various fish species which we learned about thoroughly over the summer (I haven't fished in my life more than three times), then took some body measurements and samples of bass scales for lab purposes, released the fish, and went back to the lab for lunch break. Then we would do it again in the afternoon.

Admittedly, the fish crew became the ORI crew as well as the Habitat crew. Now, I had no idea what that meant when I started my summer out here as an intern. The Outfall Reconnaissance Inventory (ORI) program is required in Muncie by the Environmental Protection Agency. We surveyed many stream miles, charting illicit discharges into the river that would be contaminating the water that we eventually drink in Muncie. You may have heard about the Qualitative Habitat Evaluation Index via NREM classes. If not, it is an analysis of the existing attributes that make up a healthy or unhealthy habitat along the river. We would walk in 20-meter stretches and note overhanging vegetation, riffles, pools, undercut banks, etc. Sure, the ORI and Habitat tasks were not as enjoyable as the electrofishing, but the Bureau needed these items completed and it was tolerable in the heat when you had good conversation. If it matters to you, find out in advance what the summer intern jobs will entail. However, every other summer, it has been strictly fish all summer.

The pay is good, you always get 40 hours a week, and it is always Monday through Friday from seven to three, so you can still enjoy your summer. The Bureau of Water Quality proved to be flexible on schedules, too, as I also took part in the Alaska Field Study in May. We spent every day out on the water and in the sun. It was a hot and sticky but enjoyable job for those who don't mind getting pretty dirty daily.