Rachel Roday is not the kind of teenager who enjoys sitting idle. The Huntington High School senior isn’t afraid of working hard and she has enough foresight to know when a particular activity might be useful to her future pursuit of ambitious goals.
Ms. Roday spent time last summer immersed in an area that interests her; marine science. “Over the summer I applied for and was accepted into a paid aquaculture internship working with the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk to restore the shellfish populations of Huntington Harbor and Oyster Bay,” she said.
The internship ran six hours a day for the entire month of July. Ms. Roday worked out of Gold Star Battalion Beach on the banks of Huntington Harbor. “The floatable upwelling system (or FLUPSY) that contained all the shellfish was stationed at Gold Star Beach beneath the docks,” Ms. Roday said. “I worked with two other high school interns, Huntington junior Aidan Forbes and a Walt Whitman student.”
If ever an internship was hands-on it was this one. “We assisted in the cleaning and maintenance of oysters, clams, mussels and scallops,” Ms. Roday said. “This meant standing on two-inch pieces of plywood, pulling up 40 pound crates of shellfish from the water and cleaning them with a hose for hours each day. It became a lot more fun when my boss purchased a tent and we could work in the shade.”
As far as summer internships go, this one might not have been the most glamorous, but it did serve an educational purpose and it appears more than likely that it will pay dividends in the not too distant future.
“My favorite part of the internship was keeping the touch tank (in the shack on the beach) active for the public and the Gold Star campers that visited each day,” Ms. Roday said. “The other interns and I were allowed to go seining for new fish to put in the tanks and I learned a lot about the marine life native to the Huntington area. I was also able to gain a lot of great experience in aquaculture.”
“In partnership with the Town of Huntington, Cornell Cooperative Extension has grown and planted over two million hard shell clams and one million oysters in the greater Huntington-Northport Bay complex over the past two years,” according to the organization. “As an added educational component to this collaboration, high school and/or college students have the opportunity to partake in an internship. The program allows students to learn about shellfish aquaculture techniques, including grow-out procedures, measuring growth and survival rates, and monitoring environmental parameters such as water temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen and chlorophyll.”
Day after day, through the summer heat wave and all, Ms. Roday was down on the shore working as hard as she possibly could. “Making sure that the millions of clams and oysters were alive and clean was not an easy job,” she said. “It required a lot of math and ecological knowledge and painstakingly counting hundreds of clams and oysters. It was a lot of work, but in the end I really enjoyed it.”
The internship fits perfectly into what the Huntington senior hopes to pursue after she graduates next June. Ms. Roday hasn’t decided on which college she wants to attend, but she has a clear understanding of what interests her. She is currently interning in the high school science research program with teacher Lori Kenny.
“In the future, I plan to major in marine science,” Ms. Roday said. “This aquaculture internship was a great way for me to be introduced to my future field of study as well as gain work experience. If I’m around, I hope to work there again next summer or apply for a different marine internship.”