For nearly three decades, REEF has welcomed more than 150 young adults to the REEF Campus to spend a semester immersed in marine conservation projects. This month, we highlight former Marine Conservation Intern Colin Howe. Read on to learn about how his time at REEF shaped his career path.

When were you a REEF intern?
I was a REEF Intern in the fall of 2013.

What are you doing now?
I am currently working towards my Ph.D. in Biology at Penn State University. I am studying coral microbiology and will focus on the coral microbiome to learn more about coral health and physiology.

What did you like the most about your internship?
What I liked most about my internship at REEF was the opportunity to engage with multiple marine science and conservation agencies and non-profits that collaborated with REEF. From dive centers to local universities and other non-profits, working with REEF helped me expand my skills set and experience within the field of marine conservation.

Was there a goal or focus you had going into the internship?
My goal for this internship was to get a foot in the door within the field of marine science and become competitive for jobs or graduate school.

Were there any big projects you worked on during the internship that had an impact on you?
I was very fortunate to work on several big projects during my internship with REEF. One was assisting Dr. Stephanie Green with her lionfish research. We conducted benthic surveys while diving and snorkeling, looking for lionfish across most of the Upper Florida Keys, to monitor how lionfish derbies affected nearby lionfish populations. I was also able to participate in an actual REEF Lionfish Derby hosted at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. This was a huge opportunity for me to not only engage with the local community but also help encourage the long-term management of invasive lionfish within the Florida Keys.

How has the REEF internship influenced or supported where you are now?
My internship at REEF had a significant and profound impact on my career path towards marine biology. The experience and skills set that I gained from REEF helped me become a competitive applicant for future positions and eventually graduate school. Indeed, this internship helped me get my foot in the door of marine science and I am deeply thankful and grateful for my time interning at REEF.