Intern Highlight Takeover: The Canva Queen, Mary Anne.

With a staff of three full time employees, it is near impossible to get EVERYTHING we want accomplished. 

That’s why we are forever grateful for our interns. 

Intern Appreciation Paddle 2018

Especially our summer Swim Guide interns. Not a second of their time goes unnoticed to us, but it’s not as easy for y’all to get to know these amazing people as it is for us- so with that being said, let’s get to know our Central Route Sampler + Canva Queen, Mary Anne. 

Mary Anne is a first-year student at UAB majoring in Public Health and Nutrition. She has a passion for community- and loves to meet, connect with and learn about new people and various health disparities across populations. She hopes to pursue her MPH and Master’s in Nutrition and find a job that allows her to travel!

Mary Anne gettin’ ready to sample

For fun Mary Anne loves to binge watch New Girl. 

She has been known to quote the show a time or two. 

Mary Anne is seriously the coolest though. This summer, she volunteered on the Pacific Crest Trail for a week helping with trail maintenance. 

In between her time volunteering on the PTC, sampling & helping us make things look better on Social Media, Mary Anne works as a Cashier at the Whole Foods in Mountain Brook! 

A bit about her role- 

Mary Anne samples the Central Route from Pell City to Alpine! 

Mary Anne doing chatting about Swim Guide at La Paz in Mt Laurel

Her favorite stop is Coldwater Creek for two reasons…

  1. She always gets to talk to swimmers about our work there.
  2. It’s the cutest.

On top of sampling, she has seriously helped us out by tabling at several Watering Hole Stops + Social Media Outreach + reading turbidity + calibrating meters!

This girl does it all.   

Q&A with the Canva Queen

Q: What is your ideal day on the river? 

A: I love a day of floating and tubing, topped off with a long pontoon ride at sunset.

Q: What is your best sampling story?  

A: I sample at a few houses along the central route, and as I was making my way to this particular house’s backyard, I noticed a group of people down on the dock. When I got down there, I met the owner of the home and her two grandkids, who were about 4 or 5 if I had to guess. Well the kids were so excited to watch what I was doing as I took a water sample and measured the water with the meter, and they asked me tons of questions about what I do. It was really a fun moment for me to see young people get so interested in science and conservation. If they can understand and be interested in the work that we do, I think anyone can (and should!).

Q: What has been the most rewarding aspect of your internship?

A: It’s not too surprising that I’ve gained a new appreciation of the Coosa River through my internship. Before this summer, I saw the Coosa and other rivers simply as places to recreate and every once in a while, I might have thought about them being the source of the water I drink. Now, though, I see that rivers connect people, both literally and figuratively.  It’s so rewarding to find commonalities with other people during this time when it seems like people only want to see differences. Out on the river, it doesn’t matter where you’re from, who you voted for, or who you love; all that matters is that we all love and want to care for our Coosa. I love getting to help protect the river, but I think I love getting to meet and educate people just a little more.

Q: What surprises you most about being a swim guide sampler? 

A happy sampler!

A: I have been surprised by how much I enjoy the lab work! I haven’t always been best friends with science-y stuff, and I even told Karli at the beginning of the summer that I “hated” science. Well believe it or not, it’s been so fun to help analyze the samples in the lab and learn the meaning of all the metrics we put out every week. It’s been cool to see how the health of the river can be quantified using various measurements, and I can absolutely say I’ve gotten a soft spot for science by being a sampler!

Q: What is your favorite snack to eat in the field?  

A: Apples always! And a LaCroix as soon as I get back to the office.

This post was written by our Program Manager, Karli Riley. 


Coosa Riverkeeper

Coosa Riverkeeper is a citizen-based river conservation nonprofit organization whose mission is to protect, restore and promote the Coosa River and its tributaries in Alabama. We patrol the waters, educate the public, and advocate for the river. Learn more about our work by visiting

Center for Biological Diversity

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places. Learn more at

Our Children's Earth Foundation

Our Children’s Earth Foundation advocates on behalf of children, who are most vulnerable to pollution, to enable them to breathe clean air and use clean water. Learn more about their work at

Advance Etowah

Advance Etowah is working for the citizens of Etowah County for a better future. Learn more about their work at

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