Interns Compete in Oyster Olympics

Posted by KristenM on July 13th, 2015
Interns Julianne Rolf and Emily Bulger. (Chris Patrick)

Interns Julianne Rolf and Emily Bulger. (Chris Patrick)

by Chris Patrick

When 11 Smithsonian Environmental Research Center interns piled into a van headed for the Oyster Olympics, they had no idea what was in store. For the next three hours, they shoveled, scooped, scraped, sweated, poured, piled, folded, clamped, ran, and acquired minor injuries competing against interns from other environmental organizations in the area. Though the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) holds the Oyster Olympics annually at its Discovery Village in Shady Side, Md., this was the first year SERC interns vied for the golden oysters (think of gold-painted shells hanging from rope). From the get-go, it was clear SERC interns were the underdogs.

SERC’s three teams placed consistently last in every event, and the interns had to leave before the canoe race and conclusion of the competition. But under a pristine blue sky crisscrossed by ospreys dangling fish from their talons on a rare low-humidity Maryland-summer morning, no intern felt like a loser. The competition included oyster shell shaking, sack stuffing, cage folding, and a scavenger hunt. Josie Whelan, education intern, summed up the strenuousness of the events when, mid-shovel, she remarked, “And we thought we had the day off.”


One of SERC’s teams shovels oyster shells into a shifting station during the shell-shaking event. Rocking the station removes debris from the shells, which CBF uses as homes for baby oysters. (Chris Patrick)


Julianne Rolf, Josie Whelan, and Addie Schlussel stuffed 15 mesh sacks with oyster shells. (Chris Patrick)


Jacob Saindon, Moises Umanzor, and Henry Lawson construct oyster cages by folding stiff wire sheets. (Chris Patrick)


Emily Geoghegan, Caroline Kanaskie, and Samantha Vo construct cages that will be used to grow oysters. (Chris Patrick)


The eleven SERC interns that competed in the 2015 Oyster Olympics.


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