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School of Environment and Natural Resources


Environmental Protection Agency


Name: Maria Ciotola

Specialization: Ecosystem Restoration

Internship: 401 EPA Wetlands Intern

What is this internship like?

Daily responsibilities with this internship included assisting with mitigation site reviews: keeping a photo log of each site, and revising permit documents. This summer, we participated in a mussel relocation project with the Ohio Department of Transportation and Office of Environmental Services during a bridge replacement. This turned out to be a big relocation of ~4,000 mussels. Generally EPA interns who work on 401 permits don't work on projects like the mussel relocation, but a mussel relocation takes a lot of hands to make it time efficient, so we were able to help as well as some people who worked for US Fish and Wildlife Service and ODNR. It was a great opportunity to meet people from different agencies!

What did you gain from your internship?

I learned a good deal about some of the environmental laws and how the EPA regulates them. I also learned about the mitigation process for wetlands and I was able to gain an understanding of the EPA’s role in it all. I was surprised to see how difficult it can be to regulate wetland mitigation and how difficult it is for the mitigated wetlands to meet the standards they need to. I have always valued the environment and think that the actions taken to protect it are extremely important. I think that taking part in these actions is and will be a very rewarding career for me and something that I will enjoy doing every day.

How did this affect your career goals?

From my experience with this internship I decided that I was interested in pursuing a career that involved more outdoor fieldwork and less office work. I’ve found that I enjoy actually doing the field work rather than overseeing what is being done, which is a lot of what the EPA is responsible for. Overall, I learned a great deal and enjoyed my time with OEPA.

Learn more about internship opportunities here