CCSE: the internship experience

If you ever find yourself in Arroyo Grande, be sure to take a brief stop at Central Coast Salmon Enhancement (CCSE). Beyond the environmental exhibits at their Watershed Education Center, you’ll meet intelligent and fun people who have a passion for protecting and restoring our environment, while sharing with you “how” you can help and “why” you should.

Over the past few months, I was lucky enough to learn more of the “how” and “why.” My experience being a Watershed Intern at CCSE was totally awesome.  My incredibly knowledgeable mentor, Aleks, and my amazing coworkers provided me with an opportunity that enhanced my understanding and appreciation for watersheds. I didn’t know what to expect at first since I knew little about Steelhead trout, but I learned that trout were only part of the focus at CCSE. It’s just as important to educate the community on why we need to keep our streams clean and how to enhance our watersheds.

As an intern, I was given the opportunity to gain a wide variety of experiences. I participated in educational outreach during the Outdoor Discovery Festival and led a field trip with pre-schoolers in the Tiny Explorer program. It was fulfilling to watch the kids get excited about topics such as macroinvertebrates and the life cycle of trout as we guided them through what can be seen as an advanced topic.

Additionally, I was able to spend a great deal of time out in the field where I learned how to monitor water flow, survey for trout eggs, and much more. My time spent in the field was definitely a highlight of my internship experience. It was always a little bit of an adventure going out into the creeks to monitor as we would cut through the thick brush and attempt to dodge the poison oak, which I thankfully did not get!

As I depart from CCSE and begin a new job, the fond memories of wading through creek beds and watching kids become fascinated by organisms in their creeks will forever stay with me. Central Coast Salmon Enhancement is doing a fantastic job helping enhance our watersheds and I’m very grateful I had the opportunity to intern with them.