Summer 2021 Interns!

June 14th, 2021

The Watershed Institute welcomes an array of talented summer interns, fellows from the Alliance for Watershed Education of the Delaware River (AWE), and Watershed Nature Camp counselors and teens for Summer 2021. They will perform activities in policy analysis, field research, reforestation, stewardship, diversity and inclusion, education and camp programs. These opportunities demonstrate the Watershed’s commitment to training and advancing the career paths of young adults in environmental science.

The Policy team has two interns who will work virtually on issues they are eager to learn more about and they intend to advocate for changes in their communities and elsewhere.

Diego Solorio

Diego Solorio, 18, from Santa Ana in Southern California is a rising sophomore and prospective Astrophysics Major at Princeton University, Class of 2024, with a passion for science communication. With a strong interest in racial equity, Diego said he hopes to shed light on some of the implicit structures in society that restrict and subdue minority racial and ethnic groups, including how to educate community leaders on how to prepare for pollution. Diego comes to the Watershed through the RISE program at Princeton University (Recognizing Inequities and Standing for Equality). He will be working with the Watershed to map low-income or communities of color using U.S. Census data. He will also employ a mapping tool developed by the state Department of Environmental Protection to help the Watershed develop engaging and relevant outreach efforts.

Amber Li

Amber Li, 16, of Newtown, PA, is a rising junior at Council Rock High School North. With a strong interest in water quality and public health, will be working with us on an initiative to develop a science-based model ordinance for tree protection for NJ municipalities and an associated presentation that we can use with Environmental Commissions, community members, and elected officials. She has had past research and data collection experience with Teens in Research and Education in Environmental Science (TREES) at the University of Pennsylvania, where she examined fecal coliform in Philadelphia’s combined sewer overflows. She hopes to become further involved with The Watershed Institute and examine water quality.

The Science & Stewardship team has three interns from the High Meadows Environmental Institute at Princeton University. They will be working at the Watershed Center and Reserve during their in-person and virtual internships.

Sam Vasen (left) and Kevin Zhang (right)

Sam Vasen, 20, of Brooklyn, NY, is a rising junior at Princeton University, Class of 2023 in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department. Last year, he did a virtual internship where he created an Arc GIS project using forestry management data on the reserve’s 950 acres. His mapping tool helps people visualize what trees are dominant in various locations on the reserve as well as providing a snapshot of the forest health.

Kevin Zhang, 19, from northern Michigan is a rising sophomore at Princeton University, Class of 2024. His interest in Watershed arises from his years growing up in the Great Lakes region and his desire to do more with environmental organizations. He was drawn to the hands-on, in-person nature of this internship.

Sam and Kevin will be in person during their internships and will maintain and collect data on deer exclosures, work on the reforestation and maintenance of areas near the boardwalk, help remove invasive species, and plant trees and shrubs along the Watershed’s driveway. They will also maintain the plantings and tree tubes near Wargo Pond. This is a cost-share project with the Natural Resource Conservation Service as an extension of the forest management plan done several years ago with Certified Forester Bill Brash.

Natasha Montiel

Natasha Montiel, 21, of Albany, NY, is a rising senior at Princeton, Class of 2022, studying Civil and Environmental Engineering on the Environmental tract. Last summer she worked with one of her professors analyzing air quality data, and she decided to follow that experience with a summer examining water. In her virtual internship, she will analyze StreamWatch data and work to help us improve how the Watershed displays and shares that data with the public. She hopes to have a career that involves research to protect natural resources. She said The Watershed Institute’s “combination of scientific research and public outreach/education drew me in,” and she is excited to be a part of the team this summer.

Bryce Godfrey

The Science & Stewardship team also welcomes back Bryce Godfrey, 18, who attended three sessions of the Watershed Academy for High School Students in 2019.  Bryce recently graduated from Trenton Central High School and he plans to study computer engineering at Mercer County Community College. Bryce said he’s excited about a summer at the Watershed because he “wants to learn a lot,  meet new people and be around nature.”  

Kate Hode

The Education team has two interns who will work on educational, nature-based programming and will help with the Watershed Nature Camp.

Kate Hode, 24, of Monroe, NJ came on board in early March as the education intern for this year. She works collaboratively with education staff to deliver hands-on environmental programs for all ages. This summer she will be helping with the Watershed Nature Camp as a group leader. She graduated in May, 2019 from The College of New Jersey with a B.A. in Biology. 

The Watershed Nature Camp will have 20 camp counselors and 16 Counselors-in-Training, including many who were former campers. They will work with the young children in exploring and enjoying nature and the outdoor environment.

The team also has two fellows from the Alliance for Watershed Educators (AWE). 

Edgar Rivera (right) and Mafanta Swaray (left).

Edgar Rivera, 18, from Trenton, NJ.  He is a rising freshman at Middlebury College in Middlebury Vermont. He plans on studying biology and pursuing his dream of becoming a paleontologist. He hopes his experience at The Watershed Institute this summer will strengthen his connection with nature. “I adore the outside world, but rarely find myself invested into it, so this is an amazing opportunity to do just that while also keeping me connected and engaged with Trenton, my home.”

Mafanta Swaray, 19, of Trenton, is a rising sophomore at Stockton University. She is studying to be a nurse with a minor in biochemistry. “The reason why I wanted to become an AWE fellow is that it teaches you how to not only be compassionate with humans, but with other living objects as well. The Watershed will help me expand my knowledge on different walks of life and see things that I’ve never dwelled on such as water education and more.”

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