Through this blog, we will spotlight Otterbein students who are engaging in internships and professional experiences in a variety of industries and geographic locations. We will also share tips and advice on searching for internships and making the most of internship experiences.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Rebecca Carter '15- ODOT: Office of Environmental Science, Ecological Permits Section

Rebecca Carter
Class Year: 2015
Major(s): Environmental Science BS, Art w/Concentration in Communication Design
Hometown: Hilliard, Ohio
Internship: Ohio Department of Transportation: Office of Environmental Science, Ecological Permits Section

Internship Responsibilities:  As a part of the Office of Environmental Science for the Ohio Department of Transportation I was a member of a team of many experienced environmental specialists. The Department of Transportation is in charge of maintaining and expanding the State’s vast network of roads.  All ODOT projects undergo environmental evaluation to determine the impacts of their construction and operation with many laws and regulations. 

In the Eco section we are in charge of evaluating each project site to determining the environmental impacts and then coordinate with various state and federal agencies (such as the OEPA, ODNR, USFWS, and USACE) to ensure permit compliance or adequate mitigation.  All projects must submit an Ecological Survey Report (ESR) to the Office for review.   I was a part of this reviewing the ESRs that were submitted. Besides permit review I got to be involved in field reviews and surveys.  Sometimes projects have impacts that need mitigation and it is our job to find suitable sites. Some mitigation examples include: creation of new wetlands, improvements on existing wetlands, restoration of streams, and creation of bat habitats.  These sites require us to travel across the state and assess the sites in person. 

What I Learned: Most times we would be showing the USACE or OEPA how the site was preforming and meeting the permit standards. We would trek through the wetland/stream/forest in boots and waders looking at the quality of the site and how it was functioning.  Other times I was able to go into a stream and do a mussel recon to see if there would be a potential mussel community that would be affected by a project.  This internship has provided me with a hands-on experience working with experts in the field I am studying. 

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