Sound Rivers says goodbye to intern William Wallace

Environmental, Sound Rivers

Posted on April 13th, 2023

William fishes fishing line out of the Town Common creek off the Tar River in Greenville.

In the field, on the water, climbing through stormwater eroded gullies, sampling polluted water or wading through chest-deep water, William Wallace has had an adventurous spring semester as a Sound Rivers intern.

And today is William’s last day on the job, as he prepares to graduate from University of North Carolina-Wilmington. His plans for the summer included a potential trip out West for some fly fishing and fishing and sailing the coastal NC waters, along with scouting out jobs.

One of his last tasks was the (completely unofficial) Sound Rivers exit interview:

Q: What was the most fun thing you did during your internship?

A: I would say the most fun was being able to explore the Tar-Pam watershed as a whole. I grew up spending all my time on the Neuse, but never ventured into the Tar River and spent very little time on the Pamlico. 


Q: What was the most eye-opening thing you experienced?

William goes sampling on Lick Creek in Durham with Neuse Riverkeeper Samantha Krop (far left), Water-quality Specialist Taylor Register (far right) and attorneys with the Southern Environmental Law Center.

A: The most eye-opening thing I experienced stemmed from a conversation with an employee from Rocky Mount High School. He was showing us around the school while we looked for stormwater management project opportunities, and told us about his experience with hurricanes in the area. His entire neighborhood flooded in Hurricane Floyd, forcing him to carry his mother to safety on his shoulders. He was nearly seven feet tall and described the water level as “chest high.” 


Q: What was the most valuable thing you learned from working with Sound Rivers?

A: I learned quite a bit in my time at Sound Rivers, so it’s difficult to narrow it down, but I think the general insight into the nonprofit world and the communities in North Carolina will be extremely valuable going forward. If nothing else, it has taught me about myself and what I need from a career to make me happy. 


Q: How has your internship influenced how you think about the Neuse and Tar-Pamlico or waterways in general?

A: I think about the Neuse and Tar-Pamlico in a very different way now. I’ve always seen it as a resource for recreation and saw the issues these rivers face as interfering with my enjoyment of that. Now I see how much the communities rely on these rivers for so much more than just recreation, and how the quality of these rivers and ecosystems can affect daily life for millions of North Carolinians. 


William helps with the trash trap cleanout in Raleigh (pictured with The Great Raleigh Cleanup’s Preston Ross III).

Q: What kind of jobs will you be looking for?

A: I’m keeping my options open, and I’m sure things will fall into place. I would like to stay in North Carolina, not too far from the water, and have some sort of positive impact on our state. 


We want to thank William for all his hard work over the past three months — and we definitely put him to work all over two watersheds covering nearly a quarter of North Carolina. William is definitely going to be missed by Sound Rivers staff, though he claims we have not seen the last of him — he plans to continue to volunteer with us when able!

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