PRKN 2021 Murrin Fellow and Shenandoah University student Kasey Dutrow waves at the Potomac Eagle Train as it passes by during PRKN’s RiverPalooza event on a West Virginia stretch of the Potomac River known as the Trough. Photo by Alan Lehman
I came to intern with Potomac Riverkeeper Network in January of 2021 – now one year later I’ve gained so many valuable experiences. I loved being able to combine what I’m learning in school with real-life examples such as the summer algal blooms in the Shenandoah and pollution from runoff. Putting together material for special events and working with President Nancy Stoner and others at PRKN has helped me learn more about the Clean Water Act victories, what we are doing to help, and PRKN’s plans for the future of clean water.
Planning the RiverPalooza summer paddling series was an amazing experience. I designed the t-shirts (which seemed to be a big hit with our attendees!), learned the behind the scenes work with budgeting and event insurance, met members of my community, and networked with environmentalists. This internship hasn’t been all work and no fun however, I was able to kayak Class II rapids for the first time! I also brought along a friend with no paddling experience on the river, and while we may have bumped into a few rocks and got turned around a bit, the experience was exhilarating. I think one of my core memories of the series was tubing with my daughter down the Shenandoah River. She has been kayaking with me but never had the opportunity to tube! We both loved the experience and I’ve been so happy getting to see multiple stretches of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers.
My favorite part of the internship has to be working at RioPalooza. Passage Creek in the George Washington National Forest is such a scenic area. While I’ve been on hikes in the George Washington National Forest, I had no idea the Elizabeth Furnace Recreation Area existed until we started planning RioPalooza. I loved getting to speak with local environmental organizations and community members that came throughout the day. The street tacos and ice cream were a pretty great bonus, too.
Overall, the experience has been nothing short of memorable. I’m so thankful for this opportunity and very much look forward to finishing off my final semester with Potomac Riverkeeper Network and all the amazing staff.