After visiting all eight branches of UGA Public Service and Outreach as a 2017-18 student scholar last fall, I decided on an internship with Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant. I worked under Jessica Brown, the program’s stormwater specialist based in Brunswick, Ga. At the beginning of my internship, we discussed several projects ideas before landing on the Coffin Park project.
Coffin Park is a recreational park in Brunswick with a pool, exercise track, baseball and soccer fields. Currently, the park is having problems with flooding and erosion. Marine Extension and Sea Grant have partnered with the city of Brunswick to install green stormwater infrastructure in the park. The new green infrastructure, a bioretention cell, will reduce flooding and erosion and filter rain and runoff. A bioretention cell consists of a layer of mulch, sand and stone. The stormwater runoff is collected in the bioretention cell and each layer works to filter out particulate matter and contaminants. We decided this would be the best project for me because it would allow me to apply both of my majors – environmental engineering and studio art.
One of my first tasks was to create technical drawings for the stormwater infrastructure location in the park using my environmental engineering skills. I learned directly by asking questions and applying Brown’s feedback to my work. The technical drawings were shared with project collaborators prior to the installation. This process helped me understand the importance of collaboration to bring projects like Coffin Park to fruition. The City of Brunswick is a key partner on this project and Brown coordinated the installation of the bioretention cell with a handful of city personnel who brought their own unique skills and expertise to the table.
One of my others tasks involved designing an informational poster explaining the new green stormwater infrastructure project to the park visitors. This was the most exciting part of my internship because I was able combine my technical knowledge with my creative background. I thoroughly enjoyed learning how to use new software, Adobe Illustrator, to create the poster. I’m now familiar enough with the software to use it for other jobs and projects in the future. I really enjoyed using my art skills to create a sign about an environmental science topic like green infrastructure. The experience also allowed me to enhance my communication skills while drafting educational information about the stormwater management practice to be included on the sign.
I have truly learned so much through the PSO Student scholars program this past year. I’m walking away with a huge appreciation for what the University of Georgia does for our state. I’ve gained so much knowledge about my own career path and gained new skills to apply academically and professionally. I am so thankful I could grow and learn so much through the Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant.