We are excited to welcome our Spring 2024 Marine Conservation Interns to REEF! They will assist with education, outreach, events, and daily operations around the REEF Campus in Key Largo, Florida. Pictured from left to right are Ela Gokcigdem, Sydney Houck, Nick Wilson, and Elliot Tong. Here's a bit more about them:

Ela Gokcigdem graduated from Babson College in Boston, Massachusetts, where she studied environmental economics with a focus on the blue economy. Based on her experiences growing up in her family's hometown of Avsa, Turkey, she has dedicated her career to working on healing the intersections of ocean health and economic development. Passionate about global ocean governance, Ela is thrilled to have the opportunity to focus on grassroots conservation efforts. As the Representative of Turkey on Sustainable Ocean Alliance's Youth Policy Advisory Council, Ela presented her work at both the UN Ocean Conference and COP27/COP28. She also has a climate startup that is working on converting the endemic algal blooms of the Mediterranean Sea Basin into an alternative to fertilizer.

Sydney Houck graduated from the University of Mary Washington in December 2023 with a B.S. in conservation biology. She also completed a semester at the Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation (SMSC) located at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, VA. Sydney is interested in the application of geospatial analysis in marine research and pinniped conservation. She is also interested in encouraging public interest in conservation and sharing her research with members of the public. Sydney is thrilled to be a part of the REEF team this spring, and is excited to expand her conservation skills by participating in education and outreach programs.

Nick Wilson graduated from Michigan State University in December 2023 with a B.S. in environmental science and management. During college, Nick spent time in Mozambique, where he learned about marine ecosystems, specifically the estuaries of the Indian Ocean. He engaged in environmental stewardship by participating in beach cleanups and conducted snorkel surveys where he identified and recorded species. He also attended lectures and collaborated with local experts to deepen his understanding of marine species behavior and ecology. He also recently earned his scuba certification. Nick is grateful and excited to start a new path as a REEF intern this spring.

Elliot Tong is a rising junior at Northeastern University in Boston and is currently pursuing a B.S. in marine biology. He grew up in the Bay Area, California, and has always loved the ocean. His constant visits to local aquariums and desire to learn bolstered his interests in the field. During the COVID-19 pandemic, he helped fundraise for the Oakland Zoo, raising more than $10,000 to support their supplies when they were forced to close to the public. He became scuba certified last summer, and looks forward to gaining more diving experience. He is excited to be a part of the REEF team this semester, and looks forward to learning and expanding his skills.

For more information about the Marine Conservation Internship or to apply for an upcoming semester, visit www.REEF.org/internship.