The 11-day camp was on Topsail Island off the coast of North Carolina. She applied for the camp hoping to get some hands-on experience in marine biology, “I knew I wanted to pursue that as a career, but wanted to make sure that I had a true passion for it before I went to a college hundreds of miles away to find out that I didn’t like my major,” Janke says. Her hopes of finding a true passion for marine biology came true, “I came home with a burning love for the ocean and every thriving ecosystem within it,” Janke says. She plans to attend a university along the coast and pursue a masters, possibly a PhD, in marine biology, “I have an improved respect and passion because of this experience and I hope to create that same feeling in anyone and everyone who has an interest in marine biology or any relating field.”
She was with a small group each day. They had the opportunity to volunteer in the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center four different days throughout their time there. They spend the morning feeding turtles, cleaning their tanks, learning about each individual turtle and cleaning the facility for public tours, “One day after cleaning we had a public outreach where my group and I taught people waiting for tours about illegal wildlife trade and the species that it has endangered or threatened,” she adds.
She also participated in beach sweeps, kayaking through a salt marsh, trawling on a college research vessel, attending an ocean plastic lecture, scavenging tide pools and participating in their own squid and shark dissections. Her group was especially lucky to witness a turtle release, which doesn’t happen all that often. The rehabilitation and rescue center was able to release five small turtle and a larger one. “This was an incredible experience to watch them all go back home after long recoveries and lots of work done by the interns,” she says.
She didn’t want to leave after 11 days, “Not only did I learn about biology and gain a new respect for the world’s oceans, but I made lifelong friendships and bonds with other kids my age from Massachusetts, New York, Virginia and even Taiwan,” she says.