Meet Save the Sound’s 2022 Interns and Seasonal Staff

Protecting and restoring our region’s environment is a team sport. And every summer, our Save the Sound team gets deeper and more talented with the addition of interns and seasonal staff.

We’re excited to introduce you to our newest teammates, and give you a glimpse into what motivates them to join the fight to protect and improve the water, air, and lands surrounding Long Island Sound in New York and Connecticut. We are glad they’re here and are grateful for their commitment to the environment.

NOTE: We will continue to add to this blog as new teammates come aboard throughout the summer.

Jeanette Ahuatl

Soundkeeper Intern

Melissa Schlag Internship for Justice and the Environment

You are gifted a day off to spend out in nature doing whatever you choose wherever you want. Where would you go, and what would you be doing?

I would travel to a beautiful beach in Mexico, either in Cancun, Cozumel, or Acapulco, and I would spend my day snorkeling and enjoying the clear blue ocean water full of vibrant fish and ocean life. Then, I would travel back to my parents’ hometown of Cholula, Puebla, and spend the rest of my day out in the courtyard where my family spends time together. It would then start to rain heavily and I would relive a childhood memory: when our courtyard flooded and we played in the water.

Adrienne Baxter

Yale Conservation Scholar Summer Intern

What are you most excited to do or learn during your time at Save the Sound?

I am an environmental justice advocate, creative, scientist, and college student, and I am excited to engage in environmental education and climate policy outreach. I am also excited to learn more about how communities, legislation, and organizations can affect policy in favor of human and ecosystem health. I envision my role as connecting communities, organizations, and government leaders in reducing the anthropogenic drivers of climate change.

Prabisha Bhandari

Policy Intern

When did you first become interested in law and environmental policy? 

As the daughter of two individuals raised on farms in Nepal, I was taught from an early age to respect, protect, and coexist with nature. I remember the confusion I felt when I started kindergarten and realized that some of my classmates did not value nature in the same way. From that moment on, I became known as the environmentalist in my community. I organized neighborhood cleanups, convinced my family to buy composters, joined my school’s environmental clubs, and talked to anyone who would listen about the importance of keeping the Earth clean.

At 15, my interest in environmental policy and passion for advocacy transformed into a viable career path when I began watching the show, How I Met Your Mother, and came across the character Marshall, an environmental lawyer. After some research and self-reflection, I decided that environmental law was a perfect fit. I have been working towards this goal ever since. 

Nicole Freitas

Climate and Policy Intern

How do you envision yourself being involved in preserving and protecting the environment in the next five years?

I envision myself pursuing a career in environmental law, with a focus on environmental justice. Although I am still in undergrad, I took a course called “Environmental Law” where I learned plenty regarding federal regulations and the implementation of laws like the National Environmental Policy Act and the Clean Water Act. I intend to use my Juris Doctor degree to bring more emphasis on environmental justice communities and defend them against the disproportionate negative externalities they bear from polluting facilities. I want to help stop the inequities they face by giving them access to meaningful involvement in the decision-making that directly harms them.

Nathaniel Goetz

Seasonal Water Quality Intern

What are you most excited to do or learn during your time at Save the Sound?

I’m excited about engaging our volunteers to address water quality contamination in Long Island Sound. I believe that participating in citizen science programs, where we test for fecal bacteria and excess nutrients, is the most effective way to ensure swimmable and fishable waterways in our community. 

I hope to learn from my colleagues and other experts how we can implement nature-based solutions to improve water quality in the Sound and surrounding tributaries. I’m particularly interested in performing ecological assessments at restored wetland sites (tidal and freshwater), so we can better understand the role wetlands play in improving biodiversity, as well as mitigating excess nitrogen input and other anthropogenic impacts, like climate change. 

Taylor Hopkins

Legal Intern

You are gifted a day off to spend out in nature doing whatever you choose wherever you want. Where would you go, and what would you be doing?

A goal of mine is to visit all of the U.S. National Parks, so if I could spend a day outside anywhere, I would love to visit Dry Tortugas National Park off the coast of Florida. I would spend the day swimming, snorkeling, and hopefully seeing some sea turtles and sharks!

Ameera Khan

Seasonal Environmental Technician

When did you first become interested in science?

I first became interested in science at a very young age and enjoyed hands-on activities. As I got older, I was more interested with reading than getting muddy in the backyard. My bookshelf was filled with textbooks, magazines, and novels about flora, fauna, and their dynamic ecosystems. My interests at a young age helped refine what I studied in college and who I am today. I majored in Marine Environmental Science, which balanced my love of reading with lab and field work. These days, I lean more toward field work and immersing myself in Long Island Sound—quite literally!

Audrey Leighton

Legal Intern

What is one thing you would like your friends, family, classmates, and peers to understand about the work you’re doing at Save the Sound, helping to protect Long Island Sound and its surrounding environment?

I would like them to understand that the work I am doing at Save the Sound not only affects the area around the Sound but the rest of the environment as well. As all systems in the environment are connected, protecting one part of the environment has positive effects on other aspects of the environment as well. I would also like them to understand that protecting the environment affects human health. Thousands of humans become ill each year due to living in an unclean environment. Acts that protect the environment and mitigate damage to the environment help protect people’s health. 

Guiyu Li

GIS Intern

When did you first become interested in science?

I first became interested in science when I took my first geography class at the University of California, Santa Barbara. I then changed my major from economics to geography because geography introduced me to various fascinating topics and enabled me to understand and model the world around us.

Bernadette Russo

Seasonal Water Quality Intern

Do you have a favorite spot on or around Long Island Sound?

My favorite spot on Long Island Sound is Shore Park in Pelham, NY. I have spent many days there through every important stage of my life, from swinging on the playground when I was a child to having a picnic on the grass with close friends in high school. When my university went remote in Fall 2020 and I felt isolated at home, I would drive there every night to watch the sunset. My favorite area of the park will always be down by the rocks that meet the water of the Sound. This area was the only access to the water I had growing up. I can’t count the amount of times I have sat on those rocks and watched rowers in the distance, listening to the soft sound of the waves. I am so grateful to have this body of water so close to home. 

Kristen Schick

Cleanup Intern

You are gifted a day off to spend out in nature – doing whatever you choose wherever you want. Where would you go, and what would you be doing?

I would love to spend it at Codfish Falls in Storrs, CT, the location of this photo of me! This beautiful spot has a hiking trail that follows a waterway from a brook down to the Fenton River, with the waterfall about a quarter of a mile in. I spent a lot of time here during my years at the University of Connecticut, and was able to connect with my neighbors who also frequented this spot and had a lot of knowledge about clean waterways. A community of us who lived nearby appreciated the beautiful waterfall and ensured that the trails were kept clean and cleared of trash.

Carolyn Werth

Communications Intern

You are gifted a day off to spend out in nature – doing whatever you choose wherever you want. Where would you go, and what would you be doing?

I would go to Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon in Iceland and spend the day hiking. I have always wanted to go to Iceland because it is such a unique place with so many interesting natural features, like volcanoes and glaciers. This lagoon, in particular, is home to hundreds of seals, which are my favorite animal. I would want to take my time hiking around the lake, enjoy the beautiful view, and try to spot some seals!

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Tuesday, May 21, in Windsor, CT
Celebrate World Fish Migration Day! Join us for a river walk, networking, the premiere screening of “Reconnected: Restoring the Rivers of Long Island Sound,” and a panel discussion with experts and advocates.

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