Great things happen when R-MC alumni, students and faculty collaborate. Just ask Sequoyah McGee '17.
During January Term (J-term) 2017, McGee interned at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) – Virginia Field Office in Gloucester, Virginia. R-MC's popular J-term provides students with an opportunity to immerse themselves in another culture, embark on an internship, conduct groundbreaking research or explore other areas of study on campus. This year, 1316 students participated in J-term, including internships, study-abroad, and on-campus courses.
The USFWS Field Office investigates the effects and clean-up of contaminants and helps restore polluted habitats and ensures that fish and wildlife resources are considered by agencies during project planning and structure construction. The Office also partners with private landowners to restore fish and wildlife habitats. McGee interned under the guidance of Troy Andersen '99, assistant field office supervisor for endangered species and conservation planning.
Research + Conservation
McGee, an environmental studies major and ethics minor, interned in the Endangered Species and Conservation Planning program, where she assisted in the research and modification of conservation measures for various threatened and endangered species.
Her work supports improvements to the Service's Information for Planning and Conservation (IPaC) system. Once conservation measures are added to IPaC, project proponents will be able to incorporate these measures into their projects at the planning phase, thus reducing the amount of time the Office spends completing Endangered Species Act consultations.
"The time savings will allow staff to refocus efforts on threatened and endangered species recovery activities across Virginia," explains McGee. In order to see how the Endangered Species Act and Migratory Bird Treaty Act are applied in real-life situations, she visited the Wallops Flight Facility located in Chincoteague, Virginia. The facility is currently considering building a large structure, and her visit included a discussion regarding how to avoid and minimize potential impacts to various species during the construction and operation of the structure.
Yellow Jacket Connections
Environmental Studies and Geology Professor Michael Fenster, McGee's advisor, worked with her and Andersen to coordinate the internship. Andersen majored in environmental studies at R-MC—a connection that gave the two Yellow Jackets plenty to talk about.
"Troy also took classes from Professor Fenster," says McGee. "Right off the bat I felt at ease with Troy because he was so welcoming. It was great to talk with someone who shares my school spirit and enthusiasm for the environment!"
"I completed two J-term internships while attending R-MC and was excited when Professor Fenster contacted me to see if I could host an intern," says Andersen. "Sequoyah fit into our group from day one, and I tried to involve her as much as possible to expose her to the full role of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service." Andersen says the opportunities provided by his two internships laid a strong foundation for life after college.
"I was able to start my career network, see what kinds of skills potential employers were looking for and hone in on the career path that interested me the most,” he says. "I'll always be thankful for the unique opportunities that R-MC provided."
"January Term is a great time to do an internship because I could completely focus," says McGee, who also took advantage of on-the-job networking opportunities. "This was my ideal internship, as I want a career as an environmental scientist with a focus on conservation."
In addition to being a member of Delta Zeta sorority and the Leadership Fellows program, McGee serves as an orientation leader and is a member of the Omicron Delta Kappa Society, Rho Lambda, and the Theta Alpha Kappa Honor Society. The close-knit campus community is central to McGee's happiness as a student.
"One of the most amazing things about being a Yellow Jacket is the relationships that you build and the opportunities that are available from those connections," she says. "How many students can say that their internship supervisor had the same professor as they did? I am so thankful for my professors. In addition, R-MC alumni are fantastic: They are so involved and willing to help students. I love being a Yellow Jacket!"
J-term internships offer a real-world setting for connecting academic learning with the workplace. R-MC's Edge Career Center and dedicated faculty assist students in finding the perfect internship opportunity.
The Edge, an intensive four-year program that prepares students for life after college, gives students a competitive advantage in the job market or graduate-school admissions process. Workshops, internships, one-on one advising, a career and networking Boot Camp, and a host of other resources ensure that students who graduate from R-MC are lifelong learners who can think critically and adapt to new situations.
R-MC's Bassett Internship program offers academic credit and connects students with tailor-made internships to explore a wide range of career fields in various locations. Students can also choose from a variety of paid or volunteer internship opportunities.