Emily Haag

Journal #9
April 5, 2024

This was our last day in the field. It’s kind of hard to believe, 9 weeks went by so quickly. We were back in the creek collecting macroinvertebrates again.

Dr. Niland mentioned the difference in our confidence while collecting with the kick net was insane, and I have to agree. 9 weeks ago, I had no clue how to use a kick net, and now I feel like we could confidently use a kicknet without any supervision and manage to get a good collection off of it.

It was sunny, and warmer than I had been expecting it to be, but it was a really nice last day. The water was warmer than it had been before. The water was also lower than it had been previously, despite the rain we got this past week.

At the first site, Kayak Put In, we had a clear turbidity, an average pH of 9.67, an average dissolved O2 of 9.8 mg/L, and an average temperature of 20.32℃. Then, at Kayak Pull Out, we had clear turbidity, an average pH of 8.37, an average dissolved O2 of 10.213 mg/L, and an average temperature of 17.45℃.

This week was pretty uneventful in terms of what we found, as usual, there were a lot of Black Fly Larva. We did find a bit of interesting microorganisms at Kayak Pull Out, but we didn’t get a chance to identify them.

While I’m still nervous about my presentation next week, I’m feeling more confident about it. Also I can’t wait to see everyone else’s presentations, I think that we learned a lot over the past nine weeks and it’ll be interesting to see what everyone else found most interesting and enjoyed.

Journal #8
March 22, 2024

This week, we went out to our transects to see what growth was happening. Since I missed the last time we were out at the transects, it appeared that everything had blossomed out of nowhere. It was so cool to see how alive everything looked this week.

First we talked about our presentations, which are happening in 3 weeks. It’s a bit scary to think about. I’ve always struggled with public speaking and anxiety which makes doing any kind of presentation a bit nerve wracking. I’ve gotten better about speaking in front of an audience, but it still makes me nervous.

The Fireworks Prairie Transect had much more greenery that I had previously seen. There was also a lot more bird activity around the pond out there. It was a bit cloudy, but it didn’t start raining until we were finished with the prairie and heading to the woods.

The Upland Hardwood Forest woodland transect was a lot more green this time. We also saw a lot of flowers like Carolina Jessamine, Flowering Dogwood, and a species of Violet. When we found the violets near the little stream Brianna let us each eat one. It didn’t taste much different from lettuce, but it’s cool to know which plants and flowers are edible. We also found some Wood Sorrel, but didn’t get a chance to eat any. It reminded me of how much Wood Sorrel would grow at the camp I used to work at and how we would eat it almost every day.

It’s kind of sad to think about how soon the internship is going to end soon. I’ve gotten so used to going out every Friday and learning about different things and seeing our transects and going out to the creek, it’s going to be weird when it’s over.

Journal #7
March 15, 2024

This week, we were back in Thompson Creek collecting macroinvertebrates. We were also joined by an Aquatic Science Stream Team from DHEC, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control. They helped us at the first site, Kayak Put In, with measuring the turbidity, the pH, the dissolved O2 levels, and the temperature, as well as collecting and identifying macroinvertebrates.

We also began this week with a presentation from Dr. Charles Horn, a professor at Newberry College, about the plant life around the Southern Eighths property.

Although the weather had been very warm and fairly dry this week, when we first got to the property it was raining pretty hard. Thankfully, however, the weather cleared up before we headed down to the creek, and we did talk about how there was an air quality advisory in effect due to the prescribed burning taking place across the state, which was interesting to hear about.

At the first site, Kayak Put In, the paths to the creek were very muddy and full of puddles due to the rain, and the water was a bit higher than it was the last time we went out there. The current felt a bit stronger than last time as well. The average turbidity at the site was 60 cm, the average pH was 9.13, the average dissolved O2 level was 9.32 mg/L, and the average temperature was 17.47℃.

We found a number of different species at this site using our kick net and the members of the DHEC team used a D-Net to collect more samples. With the help of one of the members of the DHEC team, we were able to identify most of them in the field upon collection. We found a number of different species of flies, most abundantly the Black Flies, as well as some Midges, and some Aquatic Worms, and a Dragonfly Larvae.

At the second site, Kayak Pull Out, we immediately noticed that the creek was higher here as well, with a much stronger current than I remember at that site before. The time was going by fast so we were only able to do two kick net collections at this site, and at one of these, we did find a live, adult Crayfish. This was the same location where we found a dead Crayfish a few weeks ago, so it was cool to see a live one here as well, despite the fact that it pinched me while I was trying to get some pictures of it.

At this site, the average turbidity was 57 cm, the average pH was 8.33, the average dissolved O2 level was 9.24 mg/L, and the average temperature was 17.12℃.

Journal #6
March 1, 2024

This week I was not able to go to Southern Eighths farm. I had to drive up to Lake Anna in Virginia for a few days. The first thing I noticed when I arrived here is that it is much cooler than it has been down in North Carolina and at the property.

The area I am in is very rural with a lot of forests and farmlands. I noticed that most of the trees don’t have leaf buds on them yet, whereas on campus at Wingate I’ve noticed a bunch of trees starting to sprout leaves and leaf buds.

I also noticed a few different types of ducks out on the lake but I wasn’t able to tell what kind they were. There were also a bunch of different birds calling outside.

The weather has been rainy and cool which isn’t too different from the Southern Eighths weather that we’ve been experiencing. Although, I have learned that the lake was manmade in order to cool a nuclear power plant nearby, so the water where I am staying on the lake is unnaturally warm. I’m curious about what effects this might have on the local plants and wildlife in and around the lake.

There are definitely fish in the lake, as I’ve seen a number of people out fishing and have seen fish in the lake myself, but their life cycles must be different from fish that live in natural lakes which get warm and cold with the seasons.

Journal #5
February 23, 2024

Today we were in the creek collecting macroinvertebrates, and then later we went into the Learning Center and identified some of the macroinvertebrates we collected two weeks ago.

Before we went out, we each were given a copy of Nature’s Best Hope, the book that our reading this week was excerpted from. I really enjoyed the reading and I can’t wait to read the book. I think it’ll give me some really good ideas that I can get my parents on board with for naturalizing our yard at home.

It drizzled a little bit but was nowhere near as rainy as it was supposed to be, which was really nice. The weather was actually pretty warm when the sun came out from the clouds, and the sky looked really pretty with the different layers of clouds and all the colors.

We did three kick net collections at both Kayak Put In and Kayak Pull Out. The water was lower at Kayak Put In than it was two weeks ago, but it seemed higher at Kayak Pull Out which was strange because the two sites aren’t really that far from each other.

We collected a lot of macros at both sites, but very different kinds at each one. At Kayak Put In, we got a lot more smaller species and larva, while at Kayak Pull Out we found more larger species and some Lleeches.

At Kayak Put In, we had an average temperature of 12.35℃, an average pH of 8.7, and an average Dissolved O2 level of 10.3 mg/L, and at Kayak Pull Out, we had an average temperature of 12.45℃, an average pH of 8.7, and an average Dissolved O2 level of 9.9 mg/L.

When we got back to the Learning Center, we used the microscope and app guides to identify the macroinvertebrates that we collected two weeks ago. We had a lot of Blackfly larva, and a bunch of different other kinds of fly larva, as well as two Millipedes, and a few other types of macros which were cool to identify. It was fun looking at all the different types of macroinvertebrates with everyone and trying to figure them all out.

Journal #4
February 16, 2024

Today we were checking our transects in the woods and the prairie. Before that, we were on a video call with Brandon Hough. He works for a company called Homegrown National Park, which is about helping people to encourage native biodiversity in their own yards. It was really interesting to hear about how he didn’t have a background in ecology or anything like that but had managed to turn his passion into a career.

I really liked hearing from him, and I especially appreciated his advice about looking at what jobs require now so I can make myself a better candidate for the future. I hadn’t thought of doing that before.

We went out to the prairie first. Brianna showed us how to fly her drone which was really fun. I’ve only ever flown my brother’s cheap, toy drones, and this was much easier and much cooler. The plants we had tagged had grown a bit, except for the winter plant, which was dropping its leaves. We heard a lot of birds at the prairie, particularly a red-winged black bird that David pointed out to us.

On our way to the woods we saw a lot of deer tracks, one I thought belonged to a wild hog was actually a buck’s track. I’d love to see one in person, they’re always so majestic in pictures. We then saw two different bobcat tracks, one was a bit smaller than the other, and a raccoon print. The trees we had marked in the woods were starting to develop leaf buds. We also tagged some violets that were starting to grow by the stream.

After that we saw some more spots along the creek and a pond where Otters like to be apparently. We saw Inspiration Rock, which was the view that inspired Brad to start the Carolina Wildlands. It’s really crazy to think we are all getting to experience everything at the Southern Eighths because of that rock, but the view really is beautiful.

Journal #3
February 9, 2024

This week we got to start collecting macroinvertebrates with Dr. Niland. It was a lot of fun to go to the different parts of the stream and use the nets. The weather wasn’t too cold, although it did start raining towards the end of the day.

We collected a lot of different macroinvertebrates, and seeing the differences in what we found at Kayak Put- in versus Kayak Pull- out was really cool. While Kayak Put- in had more variety and smaller macroinvertebrates, there were larger ones at Kayak pull out. We also found a dead crawfish and a large freshwater clam shell at Kayak pull out.

It was a lot of fun getting the hands-on experience of using the kick net and the D-net and getting to collect the macroinvertebrates ourselves.

Getting to see the difference between the stream this week compared to the past two weeks when it was much higher was a great example of how drastically the water levels can rise and fall based on the rainfall and the erosion happening upstream.

I really enjoy being able to get outside and have these experiences. I feel lucky to have gotten the Carolina Wildlands internship.

Journal #2
February 2, 2024

Today we set up our transects in the prairie and in the woods. They were roughly the same size, however, they looked completely different in size, probably due to the amount of plants in the middle of the squares. The prairie transect track was full of plants and blackberry bushes, it was very hard and almost impossible to see across it. However, in the forest it was fairly open aside from the trees and smaller plants, so while the prairie felt huge and hard to cross, the woods felt smaller.

I’m excited to watch the plants we tagged, I think it’ll be great watching how they grow and develop over the season. We tagged Geraniums, Black Eyed Susans, a Sweet Gum tree, Baccharis, Ragwort, and Goldenrod in the prairie. In the forest we tagged a Red Cedar, an Oak, American Holly, a Water Oak, and a Loblolly Pine. Also, we saw a lot of deer tracks in the mud around one of the prairies which was really cool to see. Brianna explained the difference between a canine and a feline track, and the difference between a deer and a hog track, which is cool to know.

I like being out in the prairie and the woods, they remind me of Brooksvale, where I worked over the summer. I was especially reminded of Brooksvale when we went to a part of the property that smelled like the turkey farm nearby. It was exactly like being back in the chicken coop.

After we had set up the tracks, David and Brianna took us to a trailer where bats were living. We didn’t get to hear or see any but it was cool knowing that they were there. Then we went to an ephemeral pond that rarely has water in it according to Brianna, and we were lucky enough to see it full our second week!

Then we went to a spot where some pine trees had been sold for timber. It was a complete mess from the company who had last harvested the trees. There were branches everywhere and the trees that were around the path were damaged from being hit by the trucks. It was horrible to look at.

Journal #1
January 26, 2024

Today was our first day at the Southern Eighths Farm. We got to meet Brad and Pati, and all their dogs which was very cool. Learning about how Brad bought and transformed the property into what it is today was really interesting to hear about. We got to see Kayak put in and Kayak pull out which was cool to see, as well as the prairies and the woods. The creek was higher than it usually is apparently, because of all the rain we’ve been getting. There were a bunch of sculptures made from fallen trees around the property which was really cool to see. The skill and creativity needed to make things like that is incredible. I can’t wait to see what else I am going to learn and experience in my time at the Southern Eighths with Carolina Wildlands.