Last Updated on January 30, 2024
Estimated Reading Time: 4.5 Minutes
The “My River POV” series provides readers the opportunity to learn about the unique insight and experiences of the San Antonio River Authority (River Authority) staff and their personal connection to the San Antonio River in hopes of inspiring stewardship of area creeks and rivers.
Olivia Reves, 2022 Mike Gonzales Intern
I believe that throughout everyone’s career, a specialized skillset or “toolbox” comes into play and develops alongside them. As a freshman at the University of Texas at San Antonio, I began filling my box with environmental science tools. This summer, I was fortunate to begin my journey as the 2022 Mike Gonzales Intern for the River Authority’s Environmental Sciences Department.
The most fundamental all-around tool you can use is the utility knife—it has (almost) everything you might need! I began learning all types of new, foundational concepts that would set me up for success in the following months from the get-go. Within the first few days, I learned about the vision, mission, and core values of the River Authority. I grasped protocol knowledge for field and lab work and learned how to complete tasks like measuring flow and calibrating equipment.
Like having all different kinds of heads for your screwdriver, it is crucial to be prepared. You can never have enough E.coli collection containers in the car or enough sharpies in your pocket. Sometimes you plan to look at benthic macroinvertebrates under a microscope all day, but you might have to scrap that and collect water quality data in the field instead. I also had a few community outreach opportunities where I got to speak about my experience with the River Authority, mainly through our apple snail removal program. You must always have an “elevator speech” ready to go! And ALWAYS bring that change of clothes.
A sheepshead minnow (Cyprinodon variegatus) our team discovered on the San Antonio River. Look at that smile!
Pliers help the user to be more precise with their actions. Accuracy in this field is crucial, and I found this to be the case in all aspects of the job—data integrity and management are essential! Sifting through a bag of preserved bugs to find the tiniest caddisfly larvae proves the importance of accuracy!
As part of the Texas Clean Rivers Program (CRP), the River Authority samples 50+ sites for biological and water quality sampling. At times, I felt like I needed a compass to navigate all of them! From the motionless, charming waters of the upstream Medina to the gushing flow from the wastewater treatment plants on the San Antonio River, no site was truly the same.
It is essential to stay level-headed during fieldwork—even amidst the hot and humid summer weather we all experienced this year. As much as I might want to focus on the biggest water snake I’ve ever seen or get distracted from all the cool spiders in the bushes, I know I have a very important job to do!
Lastly, you can use a measuring tape to represent a distance from one point to another. In all aspects, my life has changed since I started this internship. I have a better understanding of my future career choices and have a new love for all things aquatic ecology.
While I can always add to and improve my toolbox, the environmental science tools I have received through this opportunity and the River Authority staff’s mentorship are fundamental, irreplaceable, and timeless. I had a fantastic summer at the organization and am looking forward to using my tools in my upcoming independent study this fall!
Madison Clary, Environmental Science Intern
As a recent graduate of the Environmental Geosciences program at Texas A&M University, my goal after college was to gain real-world experience in the environmental science field. I was immediately drawn to San Antonio, with its flourishing parks and natural areas. Shortly after moving here, I saw the job posting for the River Authority’s Environmental Science Internship position, and I knew right away that coming here was the right decision.
Working as the Environmental Science Intern allows me the chance to see and understand several facets of the River Authority. I spend half of my time outdoors with the Watershed Monitoring Team, helping to collect stormwater samples and monitoring the health of the San Antonio River. The other half of my time is spent working in the lab, assisting with logging in samples and learning more about the types of analyses the lab staff performs. Because of this, I get to see how samples are collected in the field and what the lab does with the samples afterward. If I had to pick a favorite part of the work I do here, it would have to be working in the field. I love being outdoors and doing hands-on tasks that I know help the mission of looking after the San Antonio River. Whether assisting with site maintenance to ensure stormwater samples can be properly collected or working in the river with data monitoring equipment, I always enjoy my days here.
Being able to get a view into the interconnectedness of water quality monitoring and how everyone at the River Authority works together for the goal of providing safe, clean, and enjoyable waterways is an invaluable experience for me. I have been able to meet and work with so many people who are truly committed to the health of the river and its ecology. This experience shows me every day that caring for our surroundings matters immensely and that doing what we can to support our environment should always be a top priority. After being here for a couple of months, I can now say with confidence that I want to pursue a career as a Watershed Monitoring Scientist, and I am beyond thankful that I am starting that pursuit here at the River Authority.
The River Reach is back!
River Reach is a quarterly, 12-page newsletter that is designed to inform the San Antonio River Authority’s constituents about the agency’s many projects, serve as a communication vehicle for the board of directors and foster a sense of unity and identity among the residents of Bexar, Wilson, Karnes, and Goliad counties.