Published on September 29, 2021

A Visionary Summer at the Sanctuary

by Jacob Gurney

Jacob Gurney was an intern during summer 2021 at Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary

The Martha's Vineyard Vision Fellowship is a unique opportunity for anyone looking to contribute to our island community. I originally applied for the fellowship as a possible source to help fund my education. But as I began to learn more about this incredible organization, I realized it would also give me access to a plethora of people with experience in a number of different fields who were working for a sustainable future for our island. I felt I would be able to benefit from their vast knowledge and perhaps they would help guide me in my plans for the future, while also giving me the opportunity to give back.

Felix Neck was a logical choice for my internship. It is a place that I have loved since I was a kid and camper; it represents what I care deeply about on this island. I knew that the people there would be excellent mentors because I witnessed how committed they are to their work while working as a junior camp counselor.

My goals as an Environmental Educator & Camp Counselor were to expand my knowledge around lesson planning and develop curriculum and activities to engage my campers, and to work on improving the Discovery Room by making it interesting and accessible to all. The staff at Felix Neck helped me facilitate my goals by providing me with support, resources, troubleshooting, and brainstorming sessions. They also provided me with role models to watch and learn from.

I truly enjoyed my time at Felix Neck. My favorite part about working at the sanctuary this past summer has been teaching where I spent all my summers when I was younger and continue to enjoy today. It feels really good to give back to such a special place and teach the campers things I had been taught years ago along with new knowledge I have gained. I enjoyed trying to spark the camper's interest, and facilitate a fun time learning about the natural world that is all around them. It was challenging at times, but so worth it when I would see the excitement on their faces.

I also enjoyed the challenge of working on the tanks in the Discovery Room, from refurbishing the saltwater tank to setting up an entirely new enclosure for the newest attraction—a Gray Tree Frog.

I hope my campers enjoyed our time together and that they walked away with memories they will treasure for a long time. I learned a lot this summer, gained new skills, and insights. I am looking forward to beginning my education at URI and coming back to camp next year!

Jacob Gurney graduated from MVRHS in June 2021 and plans to study marine science and biology at the University of Rhode Island. Jacob is an avid conservationist, handy with fixing things, and loves the ocean and nature.