Interns provide valuable service to Fort A.P. Hill while gaining skills and knowledge
By Bob McElroy IMCOMAugust 29, 2013
FORT A.P. HILL, Va. -- U.S. Army Garrison Fort A.P. Hill recently honored seven interns who provided excellent work and key support to the post's environmental and cultural resources efforts here.Garrison commander Lt. Col. Peter E. Dargle praised the seven during a lunchtime ceremony. Dargle said their hard work and great contributions to the post was invaluable, especially in a time of personnel shortages and reduced budgets.Fort A.P. Hill Environmental Division Chief Terry Banks said the internship provides college students an opportunity to gain professional experience in their area of study."I think it's a great opportunity to expose them to as much as possible," she said.The interns worked in forestry, waste water management, hazardous materials, recycling and archaeology. They also got a tutorial on noise modeling.Banks said the interns also perform tasks she is not staffed to do. Some of the interns conducted a refrigeration study that will help the Environmental Division to determine the condition of the refrigerators on post."It will give us a baseline…it helps us to do an assessment and determine whether we need to do full-scale upgrade or replacement of the reefers," she said.Three of the interns went deep into A.P. Hill's forests to count trees; one of them was Virginia Polytechnic Institute student Nathan Balog, who was on his third internship here."We counted trees, pines, oaks," Balog said. "We saw some old trees; some were 60 to 100 inches around. It was hard work but good experience."The information they gathered will help the Forestry Branch manage A.P. Hill's forests.Another intern, Mark Durante, is a graduate student of Archaeology at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He assisted the Cultural Resources Office in several projects."He was very good; he worked on our Integrated Cultural Resources Management Plan, it has to be updated every five years," said Rich Davis, the Archaeological Field Coordinator and Durante's supervisor.Davis said Durante worked with the Archaeological Society of Virginia and the Virginia Department of Transportation regarding the excavation of the Garrett House, the site where Union Forces cornered and killed Abraham Lincoln's assassin John Wilkes Booth. The site lies in the median of U.S. Route 301 that bisects A.P. Hill.Durante also did some valuable field work at Bethesda Church on post, Davis said.The church sits on a prehistoric site that's about five to eight thousand years old, Davis said. Durante did shovel tests every five to 15 meters to determine what might be underground.Davis said Durante hopes to return to A.P. Hill in December to write his report on his tests at the site.All of the interns came to A.P. Hill as part of the Oak Ridge Institute for Scientific Education, Banks said. The program works through the U.S. Army Environmental Command. It provides students with experience related to their field of study.We've had interns for at least the last ten years, she said. We like them to be a science or engineering major so we can synch them with our program areas.Finding enough students to work as interns isn't a problem, Banks said. People know the garrison has positions; they call about them or relatives or friends know of the program.And, over the years, the post has hired several people who worked as interns."When we find good people we try to bring them back," she said. "It's a way of building your program, building for the future. I think it's a good program because it allows us to build our people. It's good for community outreach too because the kids come from the community and they understand what we do here."