Anya Charu Raheja spent the fall hiking the trails and paddling the marshes at our Pine Island Sanctuary on the Outer Banks, helping to continue our work of protecting birds and their habitat on Currituck Sound. Anya is a UNC Chapel Hill Student and interned at Pine Island through the Coastal Semester program at the Coastal Studies Institute in Wanchese.
Anya assisted in every aspect of running the sanctuary, from donor engagement to conservation easement monitoring to mowing the nature trail. Anya is smart, engaging, kind and funny, and was a pleasure to work with. Hear about her experience in her own words.
Do you have a specific memory or occasion that sparked your enthusiasm for birds and the outdoors?
My work with Sanctuary Director Robbie Fearn on the boat learning about marshes gave me an appreciation and better understanding of the marshes near my home in Florida. Generally speaking, I also didn't know how much work goes into conservation until I began my internship with Audubon. As for birds, watching the egrets and herons and other species coming and going made me stop and want to learn more about them and other wildlife. My interest in conservation has broadened since working with Robbie.
Describe your work at Pine Island.
Throughout my internship, I got hands-on experience learning about every aspect of what it takes to run a wildlife sanctuary and, more broadly, of the environment at the sanctuary. I also spent time learning about the intersection of food and the environment and learning about local foods in the Currituck Sound region. Specifically, I was able to engage with locals who run the waterfowling program to understand aspects of that from a management and food sourcing perspective.
What's your favorite bird?
The Osprey. I love watching them glide and dive for fish.
What motivates you to get involved in conservation and environmental issues?
Sea level rise and having an opportunity to learn about solutions. My parents also instilled a love of the outdoors and my mother had a garden. The history of agriculture and how it has changed is another interest of mine.
Working at Pine Island also opened my eyes to how people can have a similar goal in conservation with very different approaches, and that's okay.