Aquatic immersion


As a special events intern at the North Carolina Aquarium, Becca Fox ’23 traveled a path of career discovery, conservation and cute baby animals.

Becca Fox ’23 spent her summer with some unusual workplace companions—including an albino alligator, three otter pups and an assortment of sharks—as an intern working with the special activities team at the North Carolina Aquarium in Fort Fisher.

Becca Fox works with young students in aquatics lab

When she was applying for a spot in the highly competitive State of North Carolina Internship Program, Fox, an environmental science major, chose the aquarium as her preferred location for a simple reason: “It seemed like the most fun internship — and I knew it would be a unique experience.”

The work was also serious. “Aquariums are really important. They’re not just an area where you can go and see animals. They have programs in place such as the species survival plan to help endangered species reproduce and keep their populations healthy. They also raise awareness for different animals that might be threatened,” Fox stated.

Fox credits The Alex Lee Career and Professional Development Center at Lenoir-Rhyne with helping her craft a successful internship application. Her work as a career education officer at the center — combined with her prior work experiences as a teaching assistant for a kindergarten class and as a guide for rafting tours — led to her placement with the aquarium’s special activities team.

On the job, Fox assisted with summer camp programs, tours and animal encounters. A typical day would begin early with the preparation of crafts and activities for morning programs, followed by excursions to local beaches or the salt marshes around the Cape Fear River to teach groups about aquatic animals in their natural habitat.

“I really enjoyed working with the kids and having their energy around all the time, being able to talk to them, give them new experiences and, hopefully, make them care more about conservation in the future,” Fox said.

A few camp groups got a closer look at the complex practices behind the scenes by helping prepare food for the aquarium’s sharks, who get a very specific feeding routine.

“The aquarium staff target feed the sharks so they never associate humans with food, and they feed them frequently, so they don’t eat the other fish in the same exhibit,” she shared.

Not everything at the aquarium is about the food chain, though. Fox supervised a group as they met a trio of otter pups who have become local celebrities since their birth in May. “On a vet day, they set up a table in the exhibit and then brought out the otter pups,” Fox described. “That summer camp was the first group of people from the general public allowed to see the otter pups.”

For Fox, relocating to Fort Fisher, on the North Carolina coast, provided her not only a new environment, but living completely on her own for the first time.

“I learned so much. I’m very grateful for the opportunity I had to work with the aquarium. Internships are an amazing growth opportunity, not just for the job experience but for the life experience they give.”

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