Camden Grantham


It’s hard to believe that this will be my last ever journal entry for this internship, and my second to last visit to the farm. It seems like the weeks went by so fast. I can’t make sense of the fact that we have been going out almost every week for ten weeks to be in the field at Southern 8ths. Unfortunately, most good things have to come to an end. I have no idea what I am going to do with my free time on Fridays from this time on. I think I’ll have to keep making trips to the farm no matter what. There is just so much to do and explore on the property.

Anyway, let’s get to what we ended up doing on our last day in the field. It was our final time catching and sampling our macroinvertebrates at Thompson Creek. We were very hopeful with what we were going to catch this time, even though it was quite cold, and the conditions weren’t great at either site. We went to kayak put-out first to get our sampling done and we actually caught more than we usually do at that site. I think the slight temperature drop and the leaves falling into the creek had something to do with this plentiful collection. A lot of the macros we caught were hanging onto the leaves that had fallen into the creek during the season change. We next went to kayak put-in to get our last samples from that site. In between kick-net samples, I managed to catch two or three frogs at that site. I’m not exactly sure of the species, but they were fast. In the first kick-net at this site we didn’t have much luck, but as we moved downstream, we had much more of a sample size for the last two kick-nets.

After sampling and collecting our macros, we went back to the learning center to do our last identifications in the field. We caught a lot of different species, each one telling us a little more about the water quality in the creek. We caught some species of Mayfly larvae, which are indicative of good water quality, since they are virtually intolerant of pollution. We also identified a species of dragonfly larvae, which is also indicative of good water quality. Another cool thing we found was something that we had never caught before. It seemed to be some type of crustacean, not even a macroinvertebrate, but we were all super fascinated by it. We couldn’t come up with a complete identification of it, but we aim to take it to Dr. Niland to see if she can figure out what it is this week.

The last thing we did was a good wrap-up of our time here. We were taken to the highest point on the property to see just how big this place was. It was amazing to me to be able to see almost all of the property we had been exploring and studying throughout our short time here. I wish we had a better view but there were a lot of trees in the way, but I was still blown away by what I could see at our little vantage point. I took a few pictures so I could remember what it looked and felt like to be there. I am more than honored to be a part of this internship, and to be a part of the conservation efforts taking place at this location. I never thought I would enjoy being in the field so much; I couldn’t get enough of it! I don’t intend to change my career path, but I now have a new appreciation for field biologists and the work they do to keep our world as healthy and green as they can. I am very sad that my time at the farm will end soon, but I’m excited to see where this amazing opportunity takes me next!


This week, it was finally time for us to wrap up our studies on the transects we put out. It was a bittersweet feeling knowing that this was probably the last time we would travel to the Fireworks Prairie and the Uplands Hardwood Forest, but I also felt relief knowing that we had finally finished one thing we came here to do. We also had a few detours this time which allowed us to explore even more of the property.

We started out actually going back to kayak put-in to observe another study that was being conducted by Research Fellows and their professor, Dr. Blair, from Winthrop University. They were interested in studying the fish in Thompson Creek. To study them, they used a technique called electroshocking, which stuns the fish for enough time for them to float to the surface and have someone catch them in a net. They also used something called a seine net, which allowed them to catch multiple fish at one time. The seine net was much like the kick-net we have been using to catch macroinvertebrates because they also utilized the act of disturbing the water to cause the fish to swim away from the disturbance and into the net. It was a very cool process to observe and it allowed us to see exactly what kinds of fish were calling Thompson Creek home.

Next, we took another slight detour to feed the goats on the property, but I was much more interested in saying hi to the Great Pyrenees “guard dogs” taking care of the goats. After I got my dog fix in for the day, it was finally time to head over to our transects and catalog them for the last time. Fireworks Prairie was underwhelming, to say the least. Most of the plants we had tagged were either dead or on the way to dying. It was interesting to see, though, how much each plant grew and matured through the many weeks we had been studying them. We saw each plant go through pretty much their whole life cycle in the span of two months. Also, we saw a good amount of spiders continuing to make their homes on these plants, and I almost ran headfirst into one of them.

After untagging all of our plants at Fireworks, we made our way to the Uplands Hardwood Forest to look at that transect for the last time as well. Most of the ground-dwelling species were also dead or dying, but the trees we had tagged were doing very well, except for the fact that they were all in the process of losing their leaves for the winter. We untagged this area as well and then headed to the last destination of the day: Otter Pond. It was quite a drive to get there, but it was more than rewarding. It was a quiet and beautiful piece of land with so much diversity. We didn’t end up seeing any otters unfortunately, but we found a really cool species of moth, a half-eaten bone of what looked like to be a vertebrae of an animal, and I even got to take home a beaver stick for my dog.

It is quite saddening that we are starting to wrap up our studies and we only have two weeks left of our internship, but I’m more than ready to make the most of it!


This week, we got back into the water to catch some more macroinvertebrates. But before we went down to the creek to get some samples, we started the process of tie-dyeing our t-shirts with the Black Walnuts we collected last week. It was an interesting process and relatively easy to follow on my part. I just scrunched up my t-shirt and tied some twine around it to see if I could get a cool pattern. Then, we stuck our shirts into some very hot water with the walnut fruits and let it sit while we were out in the field. I was super excited to see how my shirt turned out. I’m not much of a fan of brown clothing, but I will make an exception because my shirt turned out pretty cool in the end. It has a lot of white in it still to balance out the brown, and I did end up making a nice pattern on it, so I will definitely be wearing that shirt at least once a week now (probably only on internship days).

Once we got our tie-dyeing out of the way, we traveled to our two sampling sites to see what we could find for macros. Kayak Put-in was a little underwhelming; the creek was super low, and the water was still, but also quite turbid. It was hard to find macros at first, but once we moved downstream, we had a little more luck with what we found. We got our usual specimens, like Dragonfly and Mayfly larvae, but then we found some weird insect larvae that we had never caught with the kick-net and D-nets before. They looked like spiders, but they only had six legs, so I already had a feeling that they were going to be hard to identify.

Kayak Take-out also didn’t have much to offer us either. It was super hard to get anything with the D-nets since the creek’s bottom was so rocky. We found a good few macros with the kick-net, though. It just took us a while to find things worth collecting. But once we got the samples we needed, we headed back and started to try and identify what we caught. We got our samples from each site and put them in some ethanol solution to make them easier to identify. One of the macros we caught took a while to settle down; the ethanol didn’t kill him as quickly as we thought. That specimen took us forever to identify, it wasn’t even on our PocketMacros app. We had to take some extreme measures to figure out what it was. Eventually we found out that it was a type of Dragonfly larva, which made absolutely no sense to me. I’m just glad we were able to identify it. We also found what seemed to be a species of Caddisfly larvae, and we didn’t get to the other specimens since we took too much time trying to identify the spider-looking one.

I had a great time this week looking for more macroinvertebrates, but I am also excited that I have a week off to relax before our next endeavors take place. I’m a little sad that our internship will be wrapping up in the next few weeks, but I’m happy for the experiences I’ve had during our time together. Anyways, I’m super excited to see what we get into next!


This week we went back to our transects to see how each plant we tagged was growing, and if anything changed from two weeks ago. We also had a guest this week, April, shadow us to see how the internship worked, and if she would be interested in doing a summer program at the farm. I had a great time meeting her and I hope she liked the farm and field experiences with Carolina Wildlands Foundation enough to be interested in returning for the summer. But anyways, the plants from our transects had changed quite a bit from last time we checked them. Some of the plants that were previously green and in their prime from two weeks ago were now brown and dying back for the season. On the other hand, some were finally sprouting flowers and dropping seeds, one was even just starting to show flower buds, which is unusual for this time of year. We also got to bring the drone out this week and we each took turns flying it. I had never flown one before and I thought it was super cool to be able to handle one for the first time. Southern 8ths is super fortunate to be able to have one because most farms and nature sanctuaries can’t afford to have a drone to help them out with their studies and conservation of the land.

After we finished looking at our transects, we had finished early so we went to explore some more of the property. First, we went to the Block House to look for Black Walnut Trees so we could bring back some walnuts. Apparently, you can use walnuts as natural dye, so we collected some of those to dye some shirts next week. Next, we made a long haul to Turtle Pond, and made some stops along the way if we noticed anything interesting. Turtle pond was super quaint and seemingly in the middle of nowhere, but the location was beautiful. I was a little upset that we didn’t end up seeing any turtles, but we did find a huge wasp’s nest in what was supposed to be a Wood Duck nesting box house. Brad showed up and sprayed them with Raid; I have no idea how he didn’t get stung at least once. Their nest was the size of a baseball! We also went up to one of the logging areas on the property to see how that’s done. It was so weird to see how much of the land is just decimated, and the fact that it’s done on purpose too is beyond me.

We then finished up at Turtle Pond and started to head back to the learning center with a Gator full of walnuts. On the way back, we saw two Bobwhite Quail nearing the edge of the brush. I had never seen them in person before, so I thought that was really interesting. We even saw them fly away as we were driving by. I had a great time at the farm this week, and I can’t wait to see what we have in store for next week!


This week we were able to get back in the water and sample some more macroinvertebrates. We went to our first sampling site and noticed some differences in the creek that were not present last time. The water level was so much lower than the first time we sampled there, so it was much harder to get our kick-net below the water, which also made it more difficult to catch anything on the kick-net. It was also not as turbid as last time, and there weren’t many riffles in the water either. This environment did not allow for much of a turnout this week. We only caught a small handful of macros at this first sampling site.

At the second sampling site, we were much more fruitful with our samples. While the water level was still quite low at the second site, we were able to dig the kick-net a little deeper into the bottom of the creek. We found a bunch of different macros and were excited to bring them back to the learning center and try to identify some of them. While we were at the second site, I’m not sure how we didn’t see it before we got in the water, but there was a Black Rat Snake right where we had set down all of our equipment. We had no idea it was there until James pointed it out to us. It was super cool to see it in its natural habitat, and we watched as it slowly slithered away.

Once we got back to the Learning Center, we prepped our samples and started to try and identify them using a dissecting microscope. It took us a couple tries to get the hang of it, but the app (Pocket Macros) really helped us key out details so we could get as close as we could to a correct name for each specimen. From what we looked at this week, we identified a couple Dragonfly larvae, a Mayfly larva, some Riffle Beetle larvae, and of course we identified the Leech we found two weeks ago. I found it super cool to finally be able to see these tiny little bugs under the microscope so we could finally figure out what they were. I can’t wait to go back and identify some more macros, and I’m also excited to see what we end up finding next week!


This week we went back to our transects that we created two weeks ago. I wasn’t able to be there when the transects were created, so I got to see them for the first time. It was a beautiful day to go into the Fireworks Prairie and get our data from the plants we tagged. It was windy, cool, and cloudy; a day where I could finally wear pants and not sweat through them. We took out our Nature’s Notebook app and got to data-recording for each plant we tagged. There was so much diversity in the types of plants we looked at, and they were also all in varying stages of life, even though they were all planted around the same time. I had no idea that different plants flower and release fruit during different seasons. I always assumed that they all flowered in the spring, and died in the winter. It never occurred to me that some plants thrived in the fall or winter.

Once we were done gathering data from the Fireworks Prairie, I took a picture of the land so I could compare it to the next week we go out there to see if anything changes. Then we traveled a short distance to the Upland Hardwood Forest to gather data from our other transect. This transect had a lot of trees for us to look at, and some types of low-lying plants that didn’t grow very tall. We also found a few species of mushrooms and fungi that were growing due to the moist soil below our feet. Another cool thing we found was something called a gloworm. I had never seen one of those before, but I think it would be really cool to see them at night sometime to see if they actually glow.

Since we finished recording data for our transects early, we were able to explore some more of the property, like seeing Brad’s house for the first time, and witnessing what it looked like to have controlled tree-felling. It was so weird to me to see that happening in an area with so much life. I understand why it was necessary, though. You need to have death and destruction to give forth new life. We also saw a type of wasp in this area that was carrying a dead spider to its den. That just showed how a seemingly dead area of land can still have some life, no matter how small. I also must note that I did get to see a lot of Brad’s dogs and got to pet some of the Pyrenees, and that completely made my day. I had a lot of fun this week, and I can’t wait to see what we have in store for next week!


This week we finally got to sample and study what we came here for: macroinvertebrates. You know what that means; we had to get in the water. So, we suited up with waders and headed down to Thompson creek. I have never worn waders before so that was an interesting and new experience. I enjoyed how they made it much easier to get in the water without getting wet.

This was also the first time we were introduced to kick-netting and D-netting. They were pretty straightforward techniques to sample macroinvertebrates and easy to learn once we got the hang of them. But first, we had to assess the water and its surroundings to get a feel for what kind of life might be in the water. We discussed that the environment had a lot of factors that might contribute to the types of macros that may be in the water. The creek bed was rocky but had a lot of vegetation surrounding the creek itself. There were larger rocks in the middle causing ripples, and there were a bunch of downed trees upstream. It’s quite shady at the first site we sampled, and there were some small pieces of organic debris downstream, such as tree limbs and leaves, probably from the storms our area has been having lately. There was also some bank erosion that was not naturally formed but was likely due to clearing of forested land upstream for agriculture.

It turns out that these factors were indicative for the types of macros we found in the water. We found a lot more types of macros while kick-netting than D-netting. I think it might’ve just been a factor of technique, but also believe that once we do it more, we’ll get the D-netting down in the coming weeks. Anyway, we found a lot of cool macros in the water while sampling. We even found a young salamander on the first kick-net, which I thought was super cool.

After returning to the Learning Center with our samples, it was then time to identify them. After some technical difficulties, we pulled up the website and started looking for the species that we saw. We’re going to need to look a little closer at them next week, but after some inspection, it’s looking like we saw some dragonfly larvae, some benthic worms, a larva from what seems to be from the coleoptera family, we even found a leech (which is indicative of bad water quality).

I really enjoyed getting into the water this week and finally sampling and studying some macros. I can’t wait until next week to get back to the farm and learn new things!


Unfortunately, I came down with a nasty stomach bug, so I wasn’t able to make it to the farm this week. I hated missing out on all the field work, but I’m excited to get back into it next week. That being said, I did miss out on a lot of nature observing, but I was able to gather some information on the environment around me instead. Wingate has a beautiful campus and lots of opportunities for students to get in touch with their natural side. Whether it’s just sitting outside Starbucks and watching the fountain go, or hiking around campus lake, there is plenty for me to observe. Being sick I wasn’t able to be outside a lot, but I saw plenty from my bedroom window. I can see cars going by, people walking to their classes or the parking lot, birds and squirrels running around under the trees, etc… It was especially gloomy outside for a lot of the weekend. While recovering and doing homework I could hear the rain hitting my window quite violently for a while. I do love the sound of rain until it is coupled with thunder and lightning. It’s unsettling not knowing when you’re going to hear that loud “BOOM” next. I do, however, love it when rain cools down the weather for the next few days. Humidity is my least favorite part about our weather here, but it’s nice when the rain cools it down, and I’m so excited for cooler weather soon. I can’t wait to wear pants and not be burning up for the rest of the day.


This was my first time visiting Southern 8ths farm. I was amazed at how beautiful the location was. Everything was so green and well kept. Listening to all the things we were going to be doing during our time here made me even more excited to get out in the field and start studying the land. Riding in the Kubotas around the property was definitely a personal highlight of my first experience there. It was like I was in a whole other world; I couldn’t believe that this abundant land was so close to my campus. While stopping at each new site, there were so many new things I discovered, and saw a lot of things I’ve never seen in person before. The prairie is my personal favorite so far. I had no idea how many species of grass, flowers, and other plants could live together in harmony like they were. It was also news to me that Monarch butterflies lived in the Carolinas. They were my favorite type of butterfly growing up, so it was so cool to finally be able to see them in person. I even got to see a Monarch caterpillar munching on a Milkweed plant! Thompson Creek was such a cool site to explore. It amazes me how that creek could rise so high when it rains a lot. I had no problem walking around in the creek, but I’m definitely going to be wearing different shoes next time. I think I need to invest in some outdoor boots for this internship. In the creek, I did find some cool things. We found a rock that looked like it used to be part of a flowerpot. There were plenty of freshwater clam shells around. I also found what looked to be some raccoon tracks near the shore of the creek. I bet they were looking for some food to eat down there. I can’t wait to see what else we can find there in the coming weeks!