From Beekeeping in Jamaica to Electrofishing in Oregon: Unique Summer Experiences

Two Environmental Science and Technology seniors take advantage of unconventional summer internship programs.

Senior Ecological Technology and Design major, Josh Yeroshefsky, hard at work during his Jamaican beekeeping internship.

Image Credit: Josh Yeroshefsky

September 16, 2015

Two seniors from the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources recently completed two unique summer internships that not only allowed them to enjoy some of the natural beauty in different parts of the world, but also exposed them to experiences few people can say they’ve encountered; electrofishing, gas and nutrient injections, and understanding the interworkings of a bee society, to name only a few.

Refusing to choose between work and play, Josh Yeroshefsky, Ecological Technology and Design major, opted to spend his summer in Robin’s Bay, Jamaica, where he got up close and personal with our buzzing, honey-making friends.

Specifically, Yeroshefsky will never forget when his supervisor explained that when bees become too populated for their hive, they tend to swarm (the queen, along with at least 60% of her thousands of bees fly off to find a more suitable hive). As his supervisor spoke, Yeroshefsky saw the bees do just that, and he and his supervisor were forced to act fast.

“We both climbed on top of the Land Rover roof and he told me no matter how many stings I get I cannot drop the hive,” Yeroshefsky explains. “On the count of three, he shakes the tree branch that all of the bees were swarmed on and I catch as many as I can in the hive. Within five seconds I’d racked up over 10 beestings…I spent the next three days recovering from very swollen hands and ankles.”

Despite some pain, Yeroshefsky walked away with a positive experience; living with a Rastafarian family for a month, eating a vegan diet, and learning a variety of beekeeping skills, including: understanding the inter-workings of a bee society, creating and handling top bar combs, managing top bar beehives, inspecting hives, harvesting honey and propolis, rendering beeswax from honeycombs, cleaning and setting up apiaries, transferring colonies, and participating in workshops for training Jamaican beekeepers.

At the end of the day, Yeroshefsky also found time to cool off in the ocean, sightsee, and enjoy some R&R reading in a hammock.

Meanwhile, Sofia D’Ambrosio, Environmental Science and Technology major with a minor in Geographic Informational Sciences, also spent her summer by the water working as a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) intern with the HJ Andrews Experimental Forest in Blue River, Oregon.

“My main motivation for applying to the REU program was to figure out if I wanted to pursue a master's degree after graduating,” D’Ambrosio explained. “I had to work through all the challenges of a personal project, such as long days of field collection, technical difficulties, unexpected results, and the process of putting it all to paper. But at the same time, I got to experience all the rewards, such as learning new statistical methods to analyze the data, getting new ideas from my crew and advisors on how to approach my topic, and watching my idea turn into a real report.” 

On a typical day, D’Ambrosio would begin work at 7 and start electrofishing, (stunning fish by sending an electric current through the water so fish could be collected, identified, and weighed), proceeded by providing gas and nutrient injections to streams and collecting samples throughout the day, eventually filtering those samples in the field. In her spare time, D’Ambrosio wrote a report on the importance of pool depths to different age classes of coastal cutthroat trout.

“At the end of the day, I imagine my REU experience could be similar to a master’s thesis – a lot of work, but ultimately satisfying, educational, and a source of pride,” D’Ambrosio went on.

Both Yeroshefsky and D’Ambrosio walked away from their internships with valuable lessons to support their future endeavors.

“AGNR helped open my eyes to all the different ways environmental science can impact our lives. The courses I have taken thus far in my academic career have helped be understand concepts from a booksmart point of view, and this internship gave me the ability to actually receive hand-on experience with these concepts,” Yeroshefsky concluded. “This is only the first step on my journey to my dream job, and I am excited to see where I end up one year from today.”