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Paddle boarding Boykin takes SCW on a tour of Shem Creek | South Carolina Wild
Paddle boarding Boykin takes SCW on a tour of Shem Creek

Shem Creek is a busy thoroughfare for all types of saltwater fun — and on a sunny day you might even spot Jeb, a curly-haired Boykin spaniel, skimming across the inlet on a paddle board. Paddle boarding with Jeb is just another day for Eliot, a rising high school senior.

Photos by Maria LaRocca

With aspirations to study animal behavior and photography, Eliot fit right in when she started her week-long internship at South Carolina Wildlife magazine.

Eliot shares her experience:

For as long as I can remember I have loved animals and just watching wildlife. My father would take me on hunting trips with him when I was younger, and I was always far more interested in watching the birds and squirrels than I was in actual hunting. Many of my favorite things to watch on TV were wildlife documentaries on Discovery Channel or National Geographic, and even now I am an active follower of many traveling wildlife photographers.

This past year I took it upon myself to decide what I want to study in college, and really think about what I’m interested in. Finally I had conveniently boiled it down to three completely unrelated topics, but with some deliberating and reality checks, I landed on animal behavior. I’ve also always been interested in photography, and while I’ve never had a nice camera or equipment, I always try to take good pictures when I can. To me photography is a good skill to have if you’re involved in any kind of biology so I knew I definitely didn’t want to give that up.

Students at my high school are required to complete a week long internship at the end of their junior year. At the beginning of the year I was having trouble finding an internship that I was interested in that fit these new topics that I wanted to focus on in college. Soon I talked to my advisor about my troubles and she recommended that I email the editor of the South Carolina Wildlife magazine. I was shocked I hadn’t thought of this before, because although my writing skill is by no means impressive, I knew that the magazine was known for its photography, wildlife and outdoors expertise.  A few months later from that first email, here I am sitting at a computer in room 219 in the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources building next to the State House in Columbia.

Photos by Eliot Hall

The first thing I noticed when I got here was how friendly people were around the office, which to be honest, it scared me a little. Most of my past jobs when I first arrived, people always acted very intimidating, so this was a refreshing surprise. I was relieved to find that it was a very relaxed and casual office, taking away a bit of my stress over acting impressive.  Since I’m from Charleston, I was staying in an apartment in downtown Columbia for the week. On the first day when I told my supervisors in the office that I planned on walking ten minutes to the apartment where I was staying from work, they were shocked and immediately offered to drive me. I found this quite amusing because I am used to walking a lot everyday around Charleston, so I thanked them but insisted that it was ok. My first three days consisted of similar activities including proof reading articles, looking over magazine photos, editing pictures in Photoshop, and working with Editor Joey Frazier on different photography techniques. All of this I thoroughly enjoyed, and began to get used to day by day. By the second half of the week I began to feel more comfortable around the office and familiar faces.

Photos by Eliot Hall

The thing that I worked with that I felt was the most beneficial to them was the formatting of the new SCDNR teen website called South Carolina Wild. I took what the team had started and picked through it, giving my advice and writing new content. I was impressed by what they had already, but I could tell that they valued my opinion, and I was extremely happy to be a part of that new project. In the process of all of these activities and smaller things like just walking around the building and meeting new people, I learned a lot about DNR, the different projects they are involved with, and opportunities they provide. I was particularly excited when I got to use Mr. Frazier’s nice camera equipment to go out on little photo shoots of different part of Columbia throughout the week. The first time we were on Broad River, and I was quite embarrassed because I hadn’t used most of that stuff before so the pictures didn’t turn out all that well, but by the second time I was a bit more used to it and those photos turned out better.

So I am sitting here writing this 790 word blog, when it was only supposed to be 200 (sorry), about my experience at DNR and, in conclusion, I will say that this week has been enlightening and enjoyable, and I don’t think I could’ve gotten an internship better suited for me.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed on South Carolina Wild are solely those of the authors, and do not reflect official policies, positions, or endorsements of activity or products by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.