There’s more to Fernbank Museum than you see inside the building. As one of Fernbank Museum’s summer UrbanWatch interns, I have been a part of restoring the woodlands behind the Museum, extracting invasive species and identifying plant species while improving Fernbank’s herbarium.
Before I started this internship, I could barely identify a hydrangea, but after training with the museum’s biologists and educators I now lead Nature Walks, pointing out vines, shrubs, trees and grasses. My biggest accomplishment of the UrbanWatch internship has been learning about the native and invasive plants in the Piedmont region of Georgia and their effects on our environment.
By getting my hands dirty, and actively removing invasive plants from the forest, I have been able to see areas where native plants have recovered into healthy plants after an invasive plant was removed from its space. At one point, a patch of monkey grass was consuming one of our native Trillium plants. After we removed the invasive monkey grass, the Trillium rebounded and we could really see how the invasive plant has been harmful to the native species. This project has shown me that even the little weeding I have done has made a difference in the forest! Once I understood how important this is for our environment, I started telling my friends and neighbors about the effects of invasive species, and I know this is how to make a difference. It’s great to finally feel like what I’m doing is helping protect our planet.
Nature Walks are also very interesting parts of my experience as an UrbanWatch intern. While guiding children and their parents through the forest, and explaining the importance of it to them, I know I am sharing some outlook on environmental conservation, which has been one of the top goals for my environmental career. During the walks, I feel like it’s so exciting to see families interested in nature and learning new things about their own environment. The guests leave the walks with new understanding of what they could be doing at their own home and why it’s truly necessary. As an Environmental Science major in college, I know that leading these walks and touching on aspects of environmental education is one of the best ways I can promote conservation.
Learn more about Fernbank Museum’s Nature Walks and other outdoor activities.
—Marissa Carvalho, Summer 2012 UrbanWatch Intern