Wednesday, 03 October 2018 00:04

The Eco Internship

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“Never let school interfere with your education” read the slogan of the bar I managed for 3 years back in WI. I can’t say whether it’s financially-sound or wise to heed advice coming from a 21 year old’s Kollege Klub work shirt. But I can say that after graduating UW Madison and quitting my job to finally entertain that advice a little, I couldn’t be happier. Let me first preface that there are no better hands to be in as a rookie scuba nerd than Scott Frost or Rachel Linarts. I decided on a whim to sign up for Big Blue’s conservation internship which required me to head across the world. Admittedly, I was scared. Of Thailand, of diving, of the 10 legs and 35-40 hrs it took to get to Koh Tao... but then I found myself on an island under the Big Blue patio palm trees clanking my large (obviously) Chang to Scott’s and the rest of my group that felt like family. Once I got comfortable (took around 5 good dives cause I’m soft), Rachel, the eco-warriors, and myself began the real work (let me be clear though that diving is not work) that our planet’s oceans need today desperately, and needed 20 years ago. You truly can’t know the extent of the problem until you hover over football fields of trash in the Gulf of Thailand and see it yourself.
The ecology program is superb/eye-opening/educational and don’t get me started on Rachel (runs the program). She’s an actual mermaid fighting the war against plastic. She is calm and collected at all times both above and below water creating a sense of security that allows you to focus on and learn about the beauty surrounding you. Not to mention, your eco-missions, should you choose to accept them, challenge you and make you into an exponentially better diver than you were after your Advanced cert and give you a giant sense of accomplishment.
At the end of the day, this school and co. is responsible for helping me replace what I found to be nearly crippling fears underwater with new lifelong passions for diving and conservation. I gained an entirely new level of confidence after ~70 dives and for that I have BB, Scott (+ Sam Holt), Rachel, and my work shirt to thank.
If you’re on the fence, do it and don’t look back. I met so many great people from all over the world that I will never forget while simultaneously doing the coolest thing I’ve ever done.
Cheers,
Justin

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