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The Science Exchange Sea Turtle Internships
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The Science Exchange Sea Turtle Internships

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Internship Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Work Environment

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

A sHELL of a good time!

The Science Exchange Program has been paramount to my collegiate experience as an undergraduate marine biology major. By fully immersing myself into field work and a new culture, I was able to test my limits and gain a better understanding of not only the marine science field, but of myself as a person.

When first applying to the program, I was impressed by the timely and thoughtful responses from TSE staff, Katherine Comer-Santos and Elizabeth Whitman. These amazing women were able to place me in the best internship for me, which happened to be in Abaco, Bahamas. This was close to home as I am currently living in South Florida and it fit my research interests of in-water sea turtle biology.

At first the cost of the internship was daunting and made me not want to go through with it, but thankfully I was able to get a scholarship through TSE, as well as through my university. With those combined, 80% of the cost was covered and I only had to pay for my plane ticket! Having known what I know now about the internship, I would have gladly paid for it full out of pocket.

During the internship, I learned an astronomical amount of practical skills, including data collection techniques, data software, and statistical analyses. The most rewarding part of the internship was the ability to conduct my own research project. This allowed me to gain the experience of completing a project from start to finish.

The days were long during the internship and I definitely gained a lot of muscle. This internship is definitely hard core and requires a lot of physical work and sweat, but the outcomes made it all worth while. Being able to handle sea turtles and observe them in their natural environment was a dream come true!

We were able to have fun on the side too, like going out to restaurants, exploring the islands, and getting to know some of the locals. At times it almost felt like I was on vacation!

By the end of the internship, I can definitely say I grew both as a scientist and a person. I made life long friendships along with some unforgettable memories. To this day I have been utilizing the connections I have made through networking with other interns and people on the island.

Even after the internship was over, I still was able to participate in various things that would have never happened without this experience. I was able to present a poster on my project at the International Sea Turtle Symposium in Las Vegas. I also traveled to the North American Echinoderm Conference in Massachusetts to give an oral presentation on my project.

This opportunity is truly like no other. I can guarantee that if you whole heartedly take advantage of this internship, you will gain more than you could possibly imagine. I am so thankful for the friendships I have made as well as the knowledge I gained during my time in the Bahamas. I implore you to apply to this program while you can and don't waste your time looking for something better because you won't be able to find it!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Internship Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Work Environment

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

Grateful for the Experience

I am so grateful for the opportunity to participate in this program! Not only did I learn a tremendous amount about sea turtles and the global conservation issues that impact them, but also I had the cultural experiences of living and working in a tropical fishing village, practicing Spanish daily and understanding the cultural traditions that have shaped thinking about conservation issues. Upon returning home, many of my friends and family have commented that they notice a difference in me. I am calmer, clearer, happier, and generally more grounded in my purpose and personal mission. As a direct result of my participation with The Science Exchange Internship Program, I am better equipped to conduct and publish my own research as part of my continued education.

What I observed is the students who arrive with an open mind, participate fully, and see it through to the end can have “life-changing” impact and transformative results from their experiences. This certainly was true for me!!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Internship Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Work Environment

    9

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    9

Great experience learning about turtles

My internship in Abaco was amazing! Loved having the opportunity to catch green sea turtles in the water and perform morphometrics, flipper tagging and FP monitoring on them! Abaco is a wonderful location for green turtle surveys and ample opportunity/locations to choose from depending on what you're studying! My focus was on FP monitoring and Abaco did not disappoint!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Internship Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Work Environment

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

Still one of the best experiences of my life...

It has been 5 years since I participated as an intern with The Science Exchange and I still remember everything like it was yesterday. Because of this program I have developed a profound admiration for marine fauna, expanded my knowledge on climate change impacts and adjusted my behavior to reduce my carbon footprint! I was able to conduct my own research, work directly with sea turtles and immerse myself in the local community of Tortuguero, Costa Rica. I have made many life long friends and most importantly am now connected to colleagues from all around the world. I would highly recommend this program for any biologist (especially marine biologist) that wants hands on research experience and a chance to contribute to sea turtle conservation.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Internship Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Work Environment

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

Sea turtle ecology internship in Abaco, Bahamas

The Science Exchange sea turtle ecology internship was honestly the most impactful and incredible experiences of my life. I lived in the Bahamas for two months at a research station and was able to meet other researchers from other universities and organizations. I gain invaluable research experience that greatly prepared me for graduate school and a future career in marine biology. I was also able to conduct my own research project on burrowing sea cucumbers. The countless connections and unforgettable experiences I gained through this internship will last with me forever.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Internship Placement

    N/A

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    N/A

  • Work Environment

    N/A

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

Staff Intern

The experience working with Katherine as a staff intern with The Science Exchange was a great eye-opening experience for me. I was able to learn about the inner-workings of a study abroad program and a nonprofit. I also gained valuable knowledge about sea turtle camps and marine ecology.

  • The Science Exchange responded to this review May 27, 2016 at 4:55 PM

    You are an invaluable member of the team! Thank you!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Internship Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Work Environment

    10

  • Health & Safety

    8

  • Social Life

    9

My experience

The Science Exchange is an amazing program that I would recommend to anyone. During my internship I gained, valuable connections, research experience, and Spanish skills.It was a lot of work but the experience was well worth it

  • The Science Exchange responded to this review May 27, 2016 at 4:54 PM

    And you learned to cook! We still use your research methods and data as our "baseline" so you really made a difference at the camp and in the community.

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Internship Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Work Environment

    9

  • Health & Safety

    8

  • Social Life

    9

My daughter's research internship

My daughter's research internship was excellent.

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Internship Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    8

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Work Environment

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

Research in Mayto

My time in Mexico was probably some of the best 2 months I've experienced in my life. It was hot, and I was constantly sweating battling a variety of insects, but when you live on one of the most beautiful beaches in the world and get to interact with sea turtles on a regular basis, it's really not all that bad. Most of the time we ate, slept, hung out and went swimming every day. And the people you live with become like your family, everyone has their roles bringing different personalities and life experiences to the table. As far as the research went, it took a little bit of time to get a hang of things and figure out the logistics of when data would be collected. It was always really hot, which you get used to, and you are supposed to be collecting the data when it is low tide, which did not necessarily always happen since we did not have access to tide charts online. So sometimes, we had large washes crashing down on us and washing away our research equipment. But as one would expect, anything can happen in the field and you don't really have that much control.
Another issue with our placement is that we had very limited access to Internet to access my email or contact friends and family back home. Whenever I needed help with my graphs or how to manipulate my data, I had a really hard time getting in contact with my supervisor back in the States. It wasn't until I left my research site and went back to Vallarta where I had access to cell signal and WiFi that I could successfully get in contact with help to complete my paper. Overall, I learned a lot about field research, about sea turtles and their conservation efforts, about nature and about myself. My time in Mayto being able to meet so many people studying science like me as well as other things gave me a lot of things to consider about what I want to do with my future now that I have a year left until I graduate. There is still a lot I need to learn, and I will forever be grateful for the time I was able to spend in Mayto and the incredible people I was able to meet. I hope to go back someday.

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Internship Placement

    8

  • Program Administration

    8

  • Living Situation

    6

  • Work Environment

    10

  • Health & Safety

    7

  • Social Life

    6

Science Exchange Sea Turtle Research

The science exchange program gave me an awesome opportunity to fulfill a dream of mine. I really enjoyed working with sea turtles and making friends in a new country. The research and field experience has helped me obtain future jobs. I also met amazing people who I will remain friends with for years and years to come!

Overall Rating

8/ 10

  • Internship Placement

    8

  • Program Administration

    7

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Work Environment

    9

  • Health & Safety

    9

  • Social Life

    9

Great first field research experience

This program was a great way to immerse myself into field research, coming up with questions, ideas, refining protocols and executing the research. Lots of long, hot days on the beach followed by gorgeous, starry nights. Plenty of time to explore the area and get to know the community while studying. Learned lots about the local flora and fauna, gained skills in foreign languages and developed a strong sense of self. The professional and life skills I learned have helped me tremendously in the years following my time with the program.

  • The Science Exchange responded to this review May 27, 2016 at 4:52 PM

    We are so proud of you!

Overall Rating

8/ 10

  • Internship Placement

    7

  • Program Administration

    8

  • Living Situation

    5

  • Work Environment

    9

  • Health & Safety

    9

  • Social Life

    8

Turtle Camp in Sayulita Mexico

The program over all was a great experience, working with the turtle camp, other volunteers and conducting research in the community. I found Sayulita to be a very safe place with lots of things to do and overall friendly people. I would recommend this program if you are interested in experiencing another culture and conserving sea turtles.

Overall Rating

7/ 10

  • Internship Placement

    7

  • Program Administration

    4

  • Living Situation

    4

  • Work Environment

    5

  • Health & Safety

    4

  • Social Life

    4

The science exchange

I would really recommend doing a lot of research about the program and organization that you go with and what to expect. I absolutely do not regret my decision to go with this program but I know some people who do. Make sure it's the right program for you before getting out there.

Overall Rating

7/ 10

  • Internship Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    8

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Work Environment

    6

  • Health & Safety

    9

  • Social Life

    4

Experiencing more than you expected!

My experience turned out to be pretty interesting, but one of the most memorable I have ever had. I have traveled quite a bit more after this internship, and it has given me a lot more time to reflect on the experience I had compared to other experiences in Latin American countries and conservation. I was quite confused at first, but by the end, I felt that I was beginning to understand my place in the community and conservation of sea turtles, so I was quite sad to leave. Many experiences that I found difficult were really just due to experiencing a new culture. Language barriers and lack of understanding about the culture caused some displeasure at first, but upon further reflection was just a problem because it challenged my set American ideas so much.
The interactions I had with the turtles are unforgettable. My favorite turtle that I ever saw had bioluminescent algae on her shell that lit up upon touch. I will never forget how magical she was. The interactions that I had with the turtles and studying beach trash have helped me get quite a few jobs in the field afterwards. The worst thing? Nothing will ever compare to how cute baby sea turtles are!
Isolation was one of the biggest challenges that I had to overcome. My Spanish was not very good, and my personality did not quite match those of my 2 fellow workers. This was my biggest culture shock and left me feeling quite isolated. It also provided me with the perfect opportunity to challenge myself to go beyond my comfort levels. Many people were so friendly and willing to help despite my lack of Spanish. I wish I had only tried to branch out sooner!

  • The Science Exchange responded to this review May 27, 2016 at 4:50 PM

    And now you have been living and working in the Galapagos Islands! Congratulations on your personal and cultural triumphs!

Overall Rating

7/ 10

  • Internship Placement

    8

  • Program Administration

    6

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Work Environment

    10

  • Health & Safety

    8

  • Social Life

    10

Isla Canas

I loved the whole experience, especially my awesome supervisor and peace corps volunteer. She was such a bright, insightful, and life-changing role model. Overall the experience led to changes and positive adventures in my life. I recommend this program to all who inquire.