Patel College of Global Sustainability intern spotlight: Joshua Calero, Sustainable Tourism & Coastal Sustainability
June 5th, 2017
Not many get the opportunity to experience the beauty of the Virgin Islands, let alone have the chance to intern in a field they're passionate about while doing so.
For USF Patel College of Global Sustainability graduate student Joshua Calero, this became his reality as he set out on a Spring internship with the Nature Conservancy in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands.
"This project gave me the opportunity to update the management plan for the Jack and Isaac Bays Preserve located on the East End of St. Croix. The Preserve is home to rolling hills, steep valleys, and picturesque Caribbean beaches," says Calero, whose duties included managing and monitoring the day-to-day maintenance of the Preserve.
"Unfortunately, the Preserve is dominated by invasive flora and fauna which has a debilitating effect on native species' reintroduction and preservation. The Jack and Isaac Bays Preserve is adjacent to the territory's East End Marine Park which is the largest island barrier reef system in the Caribbean. Any anthropogenic threats posed to Jack and Isaac Bays could have a direct impact on the barrier reef system which is something that I had to take into consideration while I was updating the management plan."
Calero, a Sustainable Tourism & Coastal Sustainability student set to graduate from USF in August, completed the internship through PCGS. Graduate students enrolled in the school must complete either an Academic Capstone Experience Internship or a Research Project. For Calero, completing his internship in the Virgin Islands was a no-brainer.
"I grew up in Florida where the health of our coastlines is not only important to tourism, but also serves as an important ecosystem that supports biodiversity and offers means of natural mitigation to changing climate challenges," Calero says. "This is also the case in St. Croix, where the health of the Preserve is directly correlated to the health of the barrier reef system. [This,] in turn, dissipates wave erosion that impacts the shores of the Preserve."
Calero cites a greater appreciation for coastal ecosystems and the tedious task of managing them as his biggest takeaway from the experience. He also urges those around him to live more sustainably, as commodities we may take for granted in the U.S. are not as readily available in the Virgin Islands.
"The Jack and Isaac Bays Preserve was incredible, but not without several anthropogenic challenges that need to be mitigated in order to meet the goals outlined within its management plan. Conducting this project in the Virgin Islands allowed me to utilize my graduate education to the fullest extent being that my concentrations are in Sustainable Tourism and Coastal Sustainability. This was an incredible experience and I am very fortunate that I had the opportunity to partake in it."