Since 1854 • Bay St. Louis, MISSISSIPPI

Marine science lab and summer internship nurture a passion for the great outdoors

The Saint Stanislaus campus is fortunate enough to sit right on the beach of the Gulf of Mexico. The school’s fishing pier, marine science class, sailing team, scuba club and countless other outdoor activities make it a great place for boys to be boys.

These days, Saint Stanislaus junior, Michael Sandoz, spends a lot of time in the great outdoors as he prepares for a future in the field of biology. “I’ve always had an interest in wildlife,” says Sandoz. “I love to spend my time scuba diving, mountain biking, kayaking and birding.”

In his more educational outdoor pursuits, Sandoz is a student in Mrs. Boudreaux’s Marine Science class. When asked what he thinks of the new, state-of-the-art marine science lab at Saint Stanislaus, Sandoz explains, “The lab looks great, and I’m very anxious to start learning in it. This year we have already learned so much about the water itself, ocean exploration, and various features of the ocean. I think the most important thing to take out of the class is the field work that we are so fortunate enough to be able to conduct on a regular basis because the campus is right on the beach. It will surely show some application towards future study in the field.”

Summer with alligators, snakes and legless lizards

This past summer, Sandoz worked as an educational intern for the Pascagoula River Audubon Center (PRAC). The following is a short essay Sandoz wrote about the impressive experiences of his summer internship.

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Michael Sandoz (left) and Dr. Mark La Salle (right) of PRAC

“This summer, I was granted the unique opportunity of being employed as an educational intern for PRAC in Moss Point, MS. PRAC, a part of the National Audubon Society, serves as a means of promoting education and conservation of the Pascagoula River: the largest free-flowing river in the lower-48 states.

Each day, another intern and I were tasked with feeding the center’s fish, snakes, legless lizard, yellow-blotched sawback (the river’s endemic turtle species), and alligator. Much of the food was caught directly from the river using minnow traps that utilized the daily tides or by simply grabbing fiddler crabs and geckos by hand to feed to the alligator and legless lizard.

Other daily and weekly duties included putting out birdseed, cleaning tanks and hummingbird feeders, and educating guests about the river. Throughout the summer, I was charged with compiling research on several key coastal species of animals that will be displayed on interpretations to go in the new center that PRAC is now constructing. We often worked on the site of this new center in preparation for the ground breaking that occurred later in the summer.

But work wasn’t always at the center. Along with the center’s education coordinator, Mozart Dedeaux, I was fortunate enough to monitor Least Tern nesting colonies along our beaches and place chick shelters to protect the young birds from the extreme heat. Mr. Dedeaux also exposed me to and tasked me with native plant care, numerous inventory projects, and even identifying and cleaning the bones of macerating birds.

With the center being constantly busy, I also got to help during PRAC’s week-long summer camp for young children, and lead volunteers from around the world in a variety of things from invasive plant species removal to Least Tern decoy construction.

After 200+ hours spent working with the center, I cannot even come close to describing the experience in its entirety, nor the amazing friendships that I have gained. Although a challenging experience that certainly kept me busy, my internship with PRAC created a summer I will certainly never forget.”