Marisa Gazzola ‘20

An Internship Caring for Marine Animals Includes Lessons in Adaptability
UNH marine, estuarine and freshwater biology major Marisa Gazzola cares for marine animals during her summer internship

Marisa Gazzola ’20 is a marine, estuarine and freshwater biology major from Harrison, New York. She spent summer 2019 interning at the Florida Oceanographic Coastal Center on Hutchinson Island, Florida. The opportunity was made possible thanks to a stipend from COLSA’s SOAR Fund, which provides financial support to students for unpaid internships, study abroad and expenses related to job searches, including travel to interviews and attire.

COLSA: Tell us about your internship.

Marisa Gazzola: This summer I was the animal care intern at Florida Oceanographic Coastal Center on Hutchinson Island, Florida.  My responsibilities included things like food preparation, medication and vitamin disbursement to animals, feeding of animals, cleaning of exhibits, cleaning of sea turtle carapaces, animal collection, record keeping, performing necropsies, and quarantine policy and procedures. I cared directly for sea turtles, sharks, stingrays, fish, and marine invertebrates on a daily basis.

COLSA: What attracted you to the position?

Gazzola: Last summer I interned at Loggerhead Marinelife Center doing Turtle Walk and Hatchling Release programs. While I was there, I learned all about sea turtles, and I became fascinated specifically with the rehabilitation and care processes.  So, after doing a Google search of potential animal care or rehab internships for marine animals, I found this internship. This position at Florida Oceanographic allowed me to work in an animal care setting and allowed me to care for sea turtles on a daily basis, so it was a great fit. I was really lucky to find and get this opportunity.

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UNH student Marisa Gazzola interacts with a sea turtle during her summer internship in Florida

Marisa feeds lettuce to Hank, the center's green sea turtle.

COLSA: Looking back on what you accomplished as an intern, what are you most proud of?

Gazzola: I am most proud of being selected as volunteer of the month for the month of August. I worked very hard during my time at Florida Oceanographic and learned a lot, so it’s a really good feeling knowing that my hard work did not go unnoticed and I was greatly appreciated by the staff there.

COLSA: What was the most valuable thing you learned?

Gazzola: The most valuable thing I learned was the importance of adaptability. In the animal care field you’re dealing with animals that have minds of their own and like people, won't always act or behave in the way you expect. It is essential to be able to adapt and react accordingly in order to ensure they get the treatment or care that they need.

COLSA: In what way(s) has this experience impacted you?

Gazzola: This experience has made me realize that I am 100% confidant I am in the right field and that I am on the correct path to achieving  not only a cool summer job, but a career that I will be happy pursuing for the rest of my life.

COLSA: Did you receive any awards or grants that made this internship possible?

Gazzola: I was able to accept this non-paid internship at a nonprofit organization thanks to the help of UNH's SOAR fund.

COLSA: Finally, any advice for students looking for an internship?

Gazzola: My advice for students looking for an internship is to make sure you do thorough research so you’re aware of all potential internships available and apply as early as possible. Internships are hard to come by, so it’s essential to have many options and apply early!

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