Anthony Tambini had never been to the Lake Erie islands, but that didn’t stop him from signing up for a thirteen-week stay on Gibraltar Island, home of The Ohio State University’s Stone Laboratory. Less than two weeks after receiving an associate’s degree from Columbus State Community College, the Forestry, Fisheries and Wildlife major at Ohio State left for his temporary home in the western basin of Lake Erie, where he would spend the next three months working, learning and having the time of his life.
“It was awesome,” he said. “There are all kinds of opportunities people don’t even know about – and I get to do them for credit!” Anthony took two classes at Stone Lab, a one-week course on Lake Erie sportfishing and a five-week evolution course, but that didn’t mean he just sat around for the rest of the time he was there. For the other seven weeks he was on the island, Anthony was a student employee, doing anything and everything needed to keep an island lab running, from working in the dining hall and doing grounds keeping to teaching kids how to fish and educating guests at the Aquatic Visitors Center.
Even while out of class, Anthony was still learning. Gibraltar isn’t a large island. It’s common to run into professors while just going about your day or eating lunch in the dining hall, and they’re always happy to talk about their research with anyone interested. “It’s easier to have a casual conversation,” he said. “I got to talk with researchers I was familiar with from my own studies and learn more about their work. Someone I met even helped me get a spot in Dr. Suzanne Gray’s lab back on campus.”
Anthony spent his time at Stone Lab working hard, and he couldn’t have enjoyed it more. “My goal is to never have a desk job. Stone Lab showed me I’m in the right field,” he said.
One of the biggest draws for Stone Lab is the focus on engagement and hands-on science. In class and at work, that meant catching salamanders, banding birds and spending whole days on a boat, but even when relaxing he was still surrounded by top scientists, fellow students and one of the most unique areas in America. “I’ve yet to find a better place to study than my hammock,” Anthony said.
It seems like one summer wasn’t enough, though, since he’ll be returning to Stone Lab this summer for another three full months, working on the island and taking two four-week classes, taxonomy of aquatic invertebrates and taxonomy of fishes. On top of the science itself, Anthony is looking forward to reconnecting with his Stone Lab friends and enjoying bonfires out on the island. “It’s an experience unlike any other,” he said. “Absolutely glorious.”