Hello all, my name is Katherine, I am 24 years old and was born and raised in Miami, FL. My parents are from South America, my mother is Bolivian and my father is Colombian. I grew up in a Spanish speaking household. When I was young, I didn’t know much about what nature entailed my surrounding environment, let alone the state of Florida. The field of science was like a calling that acted as a foundation to understanding this force of wanting to satisfy this urging curiosity to understand nature.

I was chosen to intern at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and shall be serving to assist with Accuracy Assessments, my position being  Vegetation Monitoring. I was fortunate enough to receive this internship being a recent graduate from Florida International University with an Environmental Studies degree and a minor in Biology. I have an interest in plant morphology, conservation and restoration, as well as wetland environments, though my span of field work experience extends to other ecosystems found in South Florida such as Pine Rocklands, and Hardwood Hammocks. It will be interesting to see the differences and similarities in ecosystems, including flora and fauna between what is experienced in South Florida versus a part of the Appalachian Mountains while interning at the Great Smoky Mountains. I am excited to be here and in having this opportunity to experience and learn from this beautiful place. There is so much that I don’t know and I am keen to gaining perspective and knowledge while here.

  • Photo Caption: Scenic view of Gatlinburg strip on a Sunday afternoon.

-Kat Castrillon

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Written by Katherine Castrillon
Katherine Castrillon graduated from Florida International University with a Bachelors degree in Environmental Studies, minor in Biology, certificate in Agroecology, and certificate in Biodiversity and Ecosystem Management. This summer she is working with the National Park Service stationed in the Great Smoky Mountains under Vegetation Monitoring contributing to projects such as Long-Term Vegetation Plots, Accuracy Assessment, Wetland Mapping and Monitoring, and Rare Species. After the internship, she plans on preparing towards graduate school while simultaneously working for an ecology research lab focused on vegetation communities and wetlands.