Tag Archives: Clark County

Logan D.: About My Swim Beach Monitoring Internship

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.

Sampling Vancouver Lake for cyanobacteria.

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.

Meet Our Interns: Logan D.

About My Swim Beach Internship

By Logan D.

Today I began my internship at Clark County Public Health as a Swim Beach Intern.   I will primarily sample the lakes in the region for fecal coliforms and cyanobacteria in order to ensure that the recreational swim beaches are safe for swimmers.  I will also create a waterborne illness toolkit that will be used in emergencies as a how-to guide when events that pose a risk to public health occur.  Upon entering the office this morning, I was surprised to see so few people working at their desks.  After meeting with my supervisor, I learned that majority of the work done at CCPH requires a field aspect and that most employees were out sampling, performing inspections, or giving consultations.  I really liked the idea of working part-time in an office and part-time outdoors.

I worked with one coworker to train in Swim Beach Monitoring.  I initially met her last year as an intern and was happy to work with a familiar face on my first day.  She was very knowledgeable about water testing and I was thrilled to learn that she had been a swim beach intern and was eventually hired into a full-time and paid position not long after her internship.  As we talked, I learned that a lot of people who worked at CCPH had been a swim beach intern at some point in their professional career and that there were many chances to be hired once the internship was complete.  It is very reassuring to know that this internship not only provides valuable information, but also potentially leads to jobs directly at the county level.

The prospect of having a summer outdoors was one of the major factors that contributed to my interest in this position and is also the part I am the most excited for!  In my childhood, I frequently went to the lakes with my family to enjoy the recreational swim beaches.  I am glad that I can continue this tradition for all members within the community by ensuring that these lakes are a safe place for families to visit.  However, I am a little concerned with the creation of the waterborne illness tool kit due to my fears that it will not be helpful in the case of emergency.  I plan on remedying this fear by making connections with the rest of the water recreation team in order to interview them about their wants and needs for this toolkit.

My first impression as the swim beach intern has given me high hopes for a great summer that involves relevant work to uphold community standards of public health.