My name is Matthew Marbert, I am a Wildlife and Fisheries Biology major at Clemson University and I am a current junior in school. This semester I have had both the joy and privilege of being a part of the waterfowl internship that you so generously made available here at Clemson. I, along with thirteen other classmates, immediately took advantage of the opportunity that was before us by joining the class.
We met once a week with Dr. Greg Yarrow and were excited to learn about new things within the waterfowl field. Some of us are very experienced in the field, having been avid hunters all of our lives and also volunteering with local agencies to carry our learnings even farther. Some of the others in the class did not have any experience in this field, and it was amazing to watch them hang on to every word as we learned about different species of ducks, different types of impoundments, migration patterns, and available resources. As I am sure you are aware, we enjoyed the privilege of traveling to several different plantations during our spring break, and devoting our time to sample for invertebrates in different impoundments. The time spent talking with such knowledgeable people such as Dr. Yarrow, Dean Harrigal, and Dr. Ernie Wiggers were a chance that not many people may ever experience in their lives.
The managers were able to provide tours of the properties at each place, and the class was able to gain hands on experience about things that can't be taught in a classroom. We began at the Yawkey Wildlife Center, which lies on Cat Island at the mouth of Winyah Bay. After separating into teams of 2 or 3 and learning about sampling methods that we would use, we gathered data from a freshwater, brackish water, and salt water impoundments. Our goal here was to determine which impoundment would be holding the most invertebrates in a meter squared area. We completed samples for each category of water at every plantation and are currently sorting through the samples in the lab. So far, we have found that a fresh water impoundment holds the highest amount of invertebrate populations: however the brackish impoundments that contained widgeon grass were also highly productive.
We are hoping to survey some gut samples from a mixture of puddle ducks in the upcoming season to determine which invertebrate they prefer, or if they have a preference at all. While being in the impoundments, some of us were able to get a firm grip on the concept of moist-soil management. This in particular was very interesting to me because I would like to manage a plantation one day after I graduate, and slowly work my way into the role that Dean Harrigal plays for our state as the head waterfowl biologist.
Our time in the ACE Basin at Nemours and at Clarendon Farms were particularly special to me as well. I grew up right outside of Charleston and the rivers in the ACE Basin are my "stomping grounds". It is where I learned the traditions of hunting and fishing from my grandfather and my father, as well as many other things that a future steward is to learn. I felt as if this spring break was my chance to give back to the land that had supplied me with so many lessons. All of this was possible by being a part of the internship that you created.
Now as we continue our research, we hope that we can pass the knowledge and experience that way have gained onto others. I have taken my little sister fishing just outside of Nemours twice since spring break, all the while trying to pass down the lessons that I have learned and build a future steward. I know others in the internship have, and will continue to do the same thing. As you understand, that is the most vital part of being a true sportsman. I would like to say thank you on behalf of our entire class for everything that you have made available to us. The people, experiences, knowledge gained, and passion that was shared in the field is something that a person can't justify in a simple explanation. I will try by saying that it was truly the best and one of the most rewarding weeks of my life, and we all look forward to continuing this internship in the fall.
Thank you for your time and effort to create such an experience, and Go Tigers!
All the Best,
Clemson University Kenndey Waterfowl Interns