BayCoast Bank is supporting Westport River Watershed Alliance’s summer internship program with a grant this year for two local students who will assist with the summer coastal ecology education program and water-quality monitoring program. WRWA welcomes two highly qualified students who grew up in the local area:

The alliance said in a news release the "highly qualified" students are Alexie Rudman and Rachel Pacitto.

Rudman will begin work toward a master’s degree in environmental management at Duke University in the fall, focusing on marine policy and adaptation to climate change in coastal areas. Her love for the outdoors developed at an early age when she spent tireless hours playing in the rocks and tide pools at South Shore Beach and Sakonnet Point, and exploring the fascinating creatures in her grandmother’s garden in Little Compton. She further explored her passion for the outdoors through surfing, which inspired curiosity and concern for the well-being of coastal ecosystems and those who depend on them. Working at the alliance will allow her to improve her skills in environmental outreach and community involvement, and will enable her to learn about the science behind coastal processes in a hands-on way, according to the release.

"She is grateful for this opportunity to work with children as a WRWA intern in the hopes that they will be inspired to learn more about and care their environment, and pass it on to younger generations," the alliance said.

Pacitto has always felt deeply connected to and passionate about the natural world around her. As a child, she spent her days, rain or shine, outdoors, exploring the surrounding forests and the Charles River in Holliston, where she was raised. As a teen, she often traveled to her favorite coastal destination, Horseneck Beach in Westport. Motivated by her insatiable compassion and curiosity for marine life, she moved to Westport in 2016 to complete her bachelor’s degree at UMass Dartmouth in marine biology and Spanish with a minor in sustainability. Her studies focus on conservation, education outreach and environmental policy.

BayCoast Bank President and Chief Executive Officer Nicholas Christ said: "The internships offered by the WRWA give students a unique opportunity to forge connections between their academics and the real world. It's an invaluable experience that merges hands-on learning with career exploration. We are proud to once again support the WRWA and its educational programs."

WRWA Education Director Shelli Costa said: "We are so thrilled that BayCoast Bank has continued to support young adults in their pursuit of learning about protecting critical habitats like the Westport River."