About My Swim Beach Monitoring Internship
By Logan D.
Throughout my internship, I worked on many projects in various realms of environmental public health. My main duty is to sample the three designated swim beaches in Clark County, which are Battle Ground Lake, Klineline Pond, and Vancouver Lake. In addition to routine sampling for E. coli, I am also a member of the team that conducts waterborne illness investigations within the county, a task that happened frequently during the last weeks of my internship. I also sample for cyanobacteria and any other waterborne pathogens recommended by the Washington Department of Health. When I was not in the field, I created a recreational waterborne illness toolkit to be used in outbreak situations in order to guide the person investigating. I used various resources to gain the information I needed for this project, from contacting the Washington Public Health Lab Waterborne Illness Coordinator, to perusing the CDC website for information on pathogens. The last of my initial projects was to design and create content for a newsletter that will be used by the food safety team to inform owners and operators about the best practices to keep the public healthy.
As my internship progressed, I did a lot more sampling and investigations than I had expected. I also gained a new project analyzing the E. coli data for trends that caused higher plate counts. This caused me to be in direct contact with the program manager of the Parks and Recreation Department, as well as many other employees who worked at Klineline pond, where my research is focused. The results that I find at the conclusion of my internship will then be used to create a better monitoring plan for Klineline, as well as give Public Health an idea of when higher results are more likely to occur.
To complete my many projects, I need the organizational skills that will allow me to work on all of them throughout the course of my internship, as well as the ability to make a detailed plan. There was also a technical demand involved; I had to learn how to sample both E. coli and cyanobacteria, as well as increase my proficiency in EXCEL to analyze my data. To get the guidance and information that I needed, I used my communication skills both within the department as well as other agencies. When I had questions, I mainly contacted the Swim Beach Supervisor (as well as the other members of the Water Recreation Team at Clark County Public Health), the Director of Water Recreation at the DOH, and the Waterborne Illness Coordinator at the Washington Public Health Labs. Overall, there was a lot expected of me and I am happy to say that I did my best and learned a lot from working as the Swim Beach Intern at Clark County Public Health.