Carolina Sandhills NWR: Internship Experience

Written by Emily Anderson 
Editor’s note: The Guild has partnered with the US Fish and Wildlife Service for the last few years to provide students with hands-on experiences to learn how forestry and wildlife management work together on public lands. The 26-week positions are supervised and based at the Carolina Sandhills National Wildlife Refuge in McBee, South Carolina. This article is from our most recent intern, Emily Anderson, who brought a fascinating background and left the internship with valuable career skills and an insight into how forest management works on a federal refuge. 

I graduated from Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina in 2018 with a B.S. in Biology. I have a diversity of interests and during my time at Furman I participated in several field study programs in geology and biology, which found me in Iceland, South Africa, Costa Rica, and the southwestern USA. Each of these experiences touched on forestry, but it was not the primary focus and forestry was something I knew I wanted to learn more about. To get more field experience I spent my college summers working on Furman’s farm and participating in geology and biology research, ultimately producing my own thesis on species distribution change under climate change. In the summer following graduation, I traveled to Costa Rica with my advisor to studying tropical ecology. From Furman, I went to work at Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site ( and then took a position in a conservation biology lab at the Forestry College of Guangxi University in China, where I researched land use change and human influence indices, leading to a publication and a second article under review.

When I returned from China, I wanted a position that would get me outside, allow me to hone my forestry and wildlife skills, and be closer to home. I was thrilled to find the Guild’s internship in McBee, South Carolina working at the Carolina Sandhills National Wildlife Refuge. During my seven months at the refuge I was exposed to the science of forestry for the first meaningful time. Much of my time was spent learning and doing the practice of forest inventory, which provided the manager with useful information from which to develop management practices. I also had the opportunity to visit logging sites, resolve timber sales, and call contractors to arrange precommercial thinning. In addition to learning about forestry, I had the great opportunity to work with the Refuge Biologist, banding doves and nestlings of the endangered red cockaded woodpeckers. I was also able to interact with the public during dove season and aid in aging the harvested doves.
Now that my internship is complete, I am volunteering with the Carl Sandburg Home and various local entities in the NC/SC area. I continue working on publications from my research in China and remain involved with the Guild’s newest efforts in Sandy Mush, North Carolina by attending coalition meetings and helping to document the events.

Editor’s note: We are proud that Emily is staying involved with the Guild after her internship and wish her all the best on her future endeavors. We will continue this internship program in May 2020. Stay tuned to the jobs and internship pages at If you would like to help recruit well-deserving and potentially interested students, or if you would like to apply yourself and have questions, please contact Mike Lynch at or 608-449-0647.