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 Sarah Goldman. Read on to hear about her time at REEF and how her REEF internship helped to shape her career.

When were you a REEF intern?
Fall 2002 with fellow intern Julie Brown.

What did you like the most about your internship?
So many things! I loved learning all the Tropical Western Atlantic (TWA) fishes and doing surveys. Getting to dive with the different shops around Key Largo once a week was such a dream! It was great to be exposed to the nonprofit world. I felt like we were really making a difference through outreach and research.

Was there a goal or focus you had going into the internship?
I don't think I had a specific focus going in; I was just eager to learn anything and everything!

Were there any big projects you worked on during the internship that had an impact on you?
Julie and I got to participate in a couple Advanced Assessment Team (AAT) projects (once we had passed the fish ID tests) - one on the Spiegel Grove and one in Key West. It was incredible to be around people that were so passionate about fish! After the internship I continued to do surveys and stay in touch with REEF staff and was invited to participate in other AAT projects in the Keys and at Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary. I've met so many wonderful people over the years through REEF and formed lifelong friendships. I also worked on a small fundraiser when I was there. I rode my bike from Key West to Key Largo to raise money for REEF and the Grouper Moon Project.

What are you doing now?
After REEF I was a Research Assistant with the University of Hawaii at Manoa. I helped a Ph.D. student with a manta ray acoustic tagging project on the Big Island. From there I moved to Charleston, SC and worked for the MARMAP (Marine Resources Monitoring Assessment and Prediction) Program at SC Dept. of Natural Resources. The program studies reef fish aging, growth, diet, and reproduction. While there I completed a masters degree at the College of Charleston. George Sedberry advised my thesis work on the diet of some deep-sea fishes (wreckfish, barrelfish, red bream and others). After 10 years at SCDNR I left the field of marine biology and started working full time as a portrait photographer. My husband and I dive a couple times a year, and I still do fish surveys.

How has the REEF internship influenced or supported where you are now?
REEF definitely helped me fulfill the childhood dream of working in marine science, and the experience helped me land jobs in my field in Hawaii and South Carolina. As for photography...I can't help but think I was at least partially influenced by Paul Humann and Ned DeLoach. I will always be grateful for the opportunity to intern there. Thank you, REEF!