Back in 2010, the Albion College equestrian program featured three of our students in a series of summer blogs. One of those bloggers was a student who graduated in May but had a really unique internship with Mote Marine Lab in Sarasota, Florida that we asked her to share with us.
That alumna was Mary Applegate ’10, a four-year member of our intercollegiate dressage team, a two-time IDA Nationals qualifier, and our 2010 Most Valuable Rider winner for dressage. In re-connecting with her as part of our “Where Are They” Wednesday photo series on Facebook, we thought it would be fun to let her share a more in-depth description of what she’s been up to since graduation.
Here’s Mary, in her own words:
My “official title” these days (e.g. how I get hired/ fancy words to make me fit a box) is “OPS Fisheries Biologist I.” In reality, I’m a Marine Mammal/ Marine Protected Species Observer, and in the simplest terms, I’m a marine biologist.
My job is quite unique, a little crazy, and hard to understand.
In a nutshell, I fly around in small planes and work on boats for a variety of research organizations where we survey marine protected species – specifically marine mammals and sea turtles. My job is especially unique because I work on a variety of seasonal contracts throughout the year, which takes me around the country.
I have settled into more of a rotation these past few years and work seasonally in the winter in St Augustine, Florida for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission on their North Atlantic Right Whale Program. This position involves aerial- and vessel-based research on the distribution, photo documentation, and ship strike mitigation for these critically endangered animals, which use the coastal areas of northeast Florida and southeast Georgia in the winter to give birth and nurse their young calves. (Learn more about my current project here.)
I alternate this project with a variety of other contracts, which vary from dolphin research, coast-wide species distribution population surveys, and even river and stream conservation. As you can imagine, this leads to quite the dynamic and ever-changing life, which is wonderful. I think Albion really prepped me for this because, aside from getting an amazing education, and having wonderful experiences in the sciences, when I look back, I realize that Albion really prepped me for the diversity of my career. Albion as a whole emphasizes creating a well-rounded student who is prepared for anything, and that’s the key to my career. I left college not only with an amazing educational background but ready to take on anything the world had to throw at me.
Unfortunately, my career right now makes it difficult to stay active in equestrian activities. That can be a sad reality of the real world, especially in a nomadic job and life like mine. The upside to my travels is that I often have a bit of time between projects to catch up with family. I’ve developed a good relationship with a barn at home and often will go work horses, take lessons, and get my horse fix in. I’m very lucky in that regard and look forward in the future to settling in one place and getting more involved with horses – and hopefully show again!
Overall, Albion helped to shape me into a very well rounded career-minded person. Not only did I leave with a strong background in science, I left with an interdisciplinary mindset that develops from a strong liberal arts college background. Learning to mold, adapt, and problem solve through the IDA team and my riding lesson experiences not only set me up to be a well-rounded rider, but taught me traits that strongly carry over in my career.
I work with a diverse group of people in situations where teamwork is essential. Being a part of a collegiate team as well as the equestrian club emphasized teamwork and encouragement that has really prepared me for the variety of people and experiences that I have encountered on the job. It also equipped me with leadership skills that prepared me for not only working with a number of people, but being able to guide others through new experiences in the field.
To learn more about Mary’s post-grad experiences with Mote Marine Lab, you may read her 2010 blog entries here. (Please note that blog entries post in reverse order.) To find out what other Albion equestrian alumni are up to (both in the saddle and in the workplace), visit the Equestrian Center web site.