Meet Hanna Gingerich
Hanna Gingerich is a third year Marine and Freshwater Biology Co-op student at the University of Guelph. To diversify and compliment her co-op degree while on an academic term, she enrolled in the Experiential Learning (EL) course, BIOL*3660 (Internship in Biological Sciences). As part of this EL course, she did a Marine Conservation and Divemaster Internship with the Indo Ocean Project on a small island off the coast of Bali, Nusa Penida. This internship allowed her to become a dive professional while getting an overview of marine conservation topics. When first telling us about her experience, Hanna said that “I learned so much about myself and my interests through this internship and found a passion for Coral Restoration that I never knew I had.”
Tell us about your internship as part of BIOL*3660! What did you do during the internship? How did you find this opportunity?
“I did a Marine Conservation and Divemaster Internship with the Indo Ocean Project in Nusa Penida, Indonesia while taking the course BIOL*3660. During the internship I gained SCUBA certifications from Open Water to Divemaster over a period of three months. I did workshops on Manta Rays, Turtles, Mola, Mangroves and, Sharks where I learn about their anatomy, the different species, their behaviour, their importance and how they can be conserved. Through a series of exams, I became a certified Roving Survey Diver where my dive group and I would identify indicator species on our slates over a period of 30 minutes. I learned about Baited Remote Underwater Video (BRUV) and I was involved in the deployment and retrieval of the structure, I then got to watch the videos, identifying the indicator species sighted. I did coral restoration of Acropora species using a fixed rope technique as well as the planting using a hitch technique and I became a certified Coral Gardener.”
“Finally, I did Dives Against Debris where my dive group and I would collect garbage underwater at our Home Reef, Crystal Bay and complete data entry on the garbage we collected. The Internship in Biological Sciences course allowed me to gain hands-on experience in Marine Conservation while reflecting on the skills that I was gaining. I was looking for an Internship where I would become SCUBA certified while learning more about Marine Conservation and after coming across the Indo Ocean Project, I knew I had to go!”
What was your biggest takeaway from the internship program?
“My Internship with the Indo Ocean Project exemplified my love for Marine Conservation and allowed me to determine the career path that I would like to pursue after graduation.”
What was the most rewarding and most challenging part of the internship?
“The most challenging part of the internship was probably learning how to identify different species while diving. Seeing a picture of an animal and learning its name above water was relatively easy but when it came down to being underwater and having to spot the animal from a distance, record its name and size, this became more challenging. But like any skill, this became like second nature through lots of practice.”
“The most rewarding part of the internship was definitely getting to do coral restoration! I got to use my hands to attach coral fragments to rope and the coral would then grow there for many months before being planted. I absolutely adore coral so getting to give coral a place to grow and helping to create a healthier reef was really rewarding to me.”
Would you recommend that others take this course? Why or why not?
“I would definitely recommend the Internship in Biological Sciences course to anyone who want to explore their potential career paths.”
Did this internship affect your career plan and/or goals?
“This internship changed everything for me, I can now say full heartedly that I want to build a career in Tropical Marine Conservation. All of my goals changed after being in Indonesia for 3 months, now I feel like a plan of what I want to do after graduation. The Indo Ocean Project allowed to explore so many different aspects of Marine Conservation and I fell in love with Coral Restoration especially making this a topic that I really want to further explore but I would be beyond thrilled to work in any aspect of Marine Conservation.”
How did you balance this internship with your co-op work terms/job hunting?
“It took some reconfiguring of my academic and co-op schedule to work this Internship into it. I’m currently on a co-op work term as an Aquaculture Technician in Whitehorse, YT and as for job hunting, I applied to all my co-op jobs prior to leaving for Indonesia and then I actually ended up doing all of my interviews for this work term while in my Quarantine hotel room. It all had a funny way of working out!”
Do you have any advice for other students looking to participate in Experiential Learning?
“Don’t be afraid to take a risk and explore you’re interests, you never know where they might lead.”