Meet the VS Summer Interns - Episode 1
- Ruthie Hawley and Jeffrey Rubel are both interns this summer at Vital Signs. They have been working very hard since they have arrived, but they managed to set aside a few minutes to introduce themselves to you. In this first installment, you will meet Jeffrey.
Our Interview with Jeffrey Rubel, "Kansas":
Tell us a little about you.
I currently reside in Kansas City, and I go to the Pembroke Hill School. I am a rising high school senior. I used to live in Maine when I was in lower school (I went to Waynflete), so I have ties to the area. My favorite subjects are math and science, particularly calculus and environmental studies. At school, I am on the Envirothon team, and we are going to compete at the National tournament this summer in July. On the team, I am the Aquatic Ecology "expert," so that probably explains my love for macroinvertebrates and water. I am also the editor-in-chief of the school newspaper, and I am on the math team and the cross-country team.
My favorite Maine native plant is the sassafras tree. It smells like Froot Loops (and who doesn’t like the smell of Froot Loops?). If you find one, smell it, but don’t eat it – it might be a carcinogenic plant. I also love BMI’s (or benthic macro-invertebrates). I think they are really fun to look for and identify, and I love water quality. My favorite BMI is the caddisfly because of their cases.
My favorite Maine invasive animal is actually not in Maine yet. My favorite invasive is the zebra mussel. I think it is amazing that they can reproduce so fast and clog up pipes and prevent native mussels from opening. It is also amazing how they are unlike native mussels (mainly because they reproduce without dependence upon a host fish).
My favorite Maine habitat is the wetland. I think it is fascinating how much can grow and live in these areas. They seem to always be teeming with life! I also love estuaries because of the diversity of life (and the squishy, hydric soils) found inside of them.
Briefly describe what you are doing at Vital Signs this summer.
I am an intern at Vital Signs, and I am working on various tasks with the website. I have been commenting on species observations and projects – it has allowed me to get to see some of the amazing things going on with the website. I have also been putting up a weekly blog about invasive species in our news, uploading some of the new reference photos for some species that don’t have them, and making two Mission videos that will soon be up on the website along with a new How-To guide for students in a video format. Currently, I am moving my attention towards creating macro-invertebrate species cards to help VS users with a new Water Quality Field Mission that will soon be on the website.
What excites you about the contributions you are making to the Vital Signs community?
It has been great to get to help improve the Vital Signs website this summer. I feel that every contribution will help somebody looking through the website later. It is great to be able to help out by doing some of the tasks that are necessary for the website to function properly in the future. I love being able to expand upon the data that is currently up so more students have access to it. It has also been a lot of fun to put together videos (hopefully exciting ones!) that introduce students to some of the amazing scientists behind the missions they are working on. I am also excited to get to share my passion for macro-invertebrates with the VS community while creating new species cards.
How does what you are doing this summer at Vital Signs fit with your own plans for career exploration?
Though my career goals don’t align directly with education (yet...), I do have a passion for and a desire to pursue environmental studies as a career. It is great to get to interact with a community of people who are interested in the environment. I feel that I have been able to share some of my passion by helping out at VS. I think that what Vital Signs is doing is amazing. It is a great model that has definitely helped me understand how education, students and citizen scientists fit into the larger puzzle of our environment.
During this experience, what have you learned about yourself and your interests?
I have learned that you should never only save a ton of photo files on a flash drive because, if that flash drive crashes, you have lost all of your work. So, as you read this, take that away – never trust a flash drive. Anyways, I have also learned about my interests in environmental studies and education. I have definitely been able to understand more about environmental studies while working here and how it all fits in with education. As far as education goes, I have definitely learned it’s value and how it can be applied to outside of the classroom learning. It is also nice to get a taste of the challenge of involving students in the environment and data collection while still collecting high quality data. It is an exciting change to get to be on the other side of the classroom - helping out on the teaching side of things at VS (rather than being a student like I am during the rest of the year).