University of Illinois Junior Lainey Pasternak, who interned this past summer with IISG’s Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Outreach Team, wrote a guest blog about her experience working with IISG and, more importantly, about an award she received for her work. 

Lainey writes, “Over the summer I worked to help increase recreational water user knowledge of AIS through survey research and outreach. I designed and conducted a survey to help investigate the prevalence of AIS-preventative behaviors among boaters and anglers, a key demographic in the effort to prevent AIS spread. By the end of the summer, I had formulated a formal research report and academic poster presentation based on the final survey results. All efforts in the research and poster presentation were collaborated with my internship supervisor and coauthor, Sarah Zack. The final project of the internship was a presentation of my poster “Evaluation Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant Outreach Efforts in the Southern Lake Michigan Watershed” at the 2012 Illinois Water Conference.

On September 24-25, I attended the Illinois Water Conference at the University of Illinois. After submitting my research abstract and poster at the conference, I was awarded a student scholarship and honorable mention award for an undergraduate student poster. I had the opportunity to present my summer research at the student poster session throughout the duration of the Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant 30th Anniversary Reception, courtesy of the Illinois Chapter of the American Water Resources Association. Among the 30 registered students of the poster competition, I was one of the two conference award recipients, and the only undergraduate to receive mention.
My internship with Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant marked an important beginning step in my environmental science career. Attending the Illinois Water Conference not only provided me the opportunity to display my research project, but also emphasized AIS as an important issue affecting Illinois’ waters. I was immersed in a learning atmosphere of networking and the active exchange of new ideas to utilize in possible future research. This conference was the first research opportunity I participated in, and I consider it a major scholarly, professional, and personal success. Receiving a student scholarship and undergraduate honorable mention at the 2012 Illinois Water Conference marked the end to a very rewarding and fulfilling student internship with Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant. I will be continually proud of all my work and the impact I was able to make.”
Congratulations to Lainey on her award, and we look forward to your continued research and outreach efforts to keep our waters safe.
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