As 2013 rolled around, South Slough witnessed a host of new faces arriving from near and far to the banks of the estuary. The first year of the Work Experience Program came to a close, and with it, the departure of Kileen Mitchell, South Slough’s first Americorps VISTA volunteer. Kileen laid the foundation for this program, which provides a vehicle to recruit and train interns wishing to gain real-life experience and skills in science, education, outreach, and non-profit work.
Thanks to the continued financial support of FOSS, Maggie Allen replaced Kileen in the beginning of December as the 2nd year VISTA member. She is continuing to provide assistance to the program by recruiting and coordinating interns and other work experience activities.
The first intern Maggie recruited was Brenda O’Dell, a student at Southwestern Oregon Community College, who is completing her studies at the end of this summer in Computer Information Systems. Brenda has a strong interest in graphic design and photography, having attended the Hallmark Institue of Photography in Massachusetts in 1998. A Coos Bay local, Brenda has returned to SOCC to complete her AAS-CIS degree.
Brenda chose South Slough because she didn’t want an internship in a business atmosphere.
“I was at a stressful point in my life, so South Slough seemed more relaxed,” she explains, “The atmosphere also seemed conducive to creativity because I’m inspired by nature, my favorite photography subject.”
Brenda will have worked at the estuarine research reserve for 10 weeks, from January until March. She interns about fifteen hours a week in order to fulfill her 4-credit internship requirement.
She claims the internship has helped her improve her graphic design skills, kept her memory fresh with working with software programs, and given her more practice in photography. She has helped improve this website, taken numerous, beautiful photographs, designed posters for events, and helped out at the front desk and the art opening.
After finishing her degree this summer, Brenda’s plans are wide open, but she has dreams of moving to a small town in Central Oregon. Her time here at the South Slough has been both beneficial and fun, as she moves onto her next adventure in life.

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