Delainey Loedding found herself in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, last summer with her hands full -- of snakes. She interned with the Urban Ecology Center, a small nonprofit organization dedicated to connecting community members to nature through habitat restoration, environmental education and citizen science.
Loedding, a December 2014 graduate in Environmental Resource Management, spent her evenings setting traps for small mammals throughout the center's acreage. Each morning, she took community volunteers onto the property to survey the number of small mammals that turned up in the traps, recording data such as their sex and weight.
She also turned over wood cover boards left as shelter for snakes. She collected the snakes in buckets and brought them back to the center, where she recorded their data and marked them so they could be identified individually to avoid replication. The data she collected over the summer determined whether the habitat-restoration efforts of the nonprofit were making a difference in wildlife populations.
A Montoursville, Pennsylvania, native, Loedding enjoyed spending the summer outside and getting a chance to make a difference in the community. "I enjoyed working with people who were really passionate about the environment. I also really developed an appreciation for snakes," she said. "I took a herpetology course at Penn State that piqued my interest in reptiles, and getting an opportunity to work with snakes hands-on was a great experience."
Loedding's internship in Milwaukee solidified her passion for the environment, and she is currently looking for a job in environmental conservation or restoration. "My coworkers at the Urban Ecology Center were environmentally progressive and knew how to balance work with fun, and I learned a lot from them. I hope to get a job in a similar environment, where I can be around like-minded people."