My River POV: River Authority Intern Edition

The River Authority
Aug 20, 2021

Photo credit: Lilian Bemporad

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 our creeks and rivers.

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Lilian Bemporad, 2021 Mike Gonzalez Internship Recipient

If you had asked me two months ago what I wanted to do with my life, I wouldn’t have had a clear answer. What I did know was that I loved the environment and I loved San Antonio. I was also desperate to spend time outdoors after the last year and a half of hiding inside. I honestly didn’t expect to find any position that could check all my boxes until the San Antonio River Authority (River Authority) posted an application for the Mike Gonzalez Internship (MG). The internship seemed perfect at the time, and it has proven to be even better than I imagined.

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As the 2021 MG Intern, I get to do what I love. I work in the Environmental Sciences Department, so I am surrounded by people who care about nature as much as I do. I go into work every morning knowing I will help the environment and the city that I care about so much – it almost makes up for having to wake up at 6 AM to do it! Most of our time is spent doing field work, the outdoor (and usually the most fun) part of our jobs. Despite the heat of the San Antonio summer, I look forward to spending hours in the field. I am lucky to work in a variety of environments, from catching fish in the wilderness to kayaking habitats on the Mission Reach.

In the office, I've been working on a report about mussels and where they may thrive.  I’m looking forward to my first mussel survey, where I’ll search a section of the San Antonio River for mussels with the River Authority aquatic biologists. Mussels are great for our rivers because they are filter-feeders and they provide an excellent food resource for fish. The types of fish we observe can indicate river health and water quality, but more than that, fish are essential carbon sinks, nutrient distributors, and food sources. The more fish in our river, the more our river can contribute to overall environmental health.

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One of my favorite experiences this summer was in the field, catching fish. We had a long, disappointing day, and we were packing up to leave when we decided to fish in one more spot. I’m thankful we did, because I got to catch my favorite fish, the American Eel. We don’t find eels very often – they are quick and rare – but when we do, it feels amazing!

If you ask me today what I want to do with my life, I would say I want to be an aquatic biologist. This summer has convinced me I belong in the field, doing research. I am excited to do important work here at the River Authority, and I hope to continue doing such work in the future.