Members talk about their various experiences they have had in the field during internships or job opportunities. Enjoy reading about all the fun critters they worked with, and the adventures they have been on!
Robert Ritson Jr.
I participated in a bobcat study on Cumberland Island National Seashore through the U.S. Geological Survey and the Pennsylvania Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit over my winter break from December 28, 2011 to January 4, 2012. Dr. Duane Diefenbach, the professor who was in charge of the study, was apart of the team that introduced bobcats to the island over 20 years ago. Two other undergraduate students and I helped Dr. Diefenbach collect scat samples of both bobcats and coyotes (which migrated to the island on their own) for the purpose of DNA analysis. In order to do this, we had to hike marked trails and along the beach searching for samples. Once a sample was found, we followed the established protocol for collection. We recorded the GPS coordinates of the sample and then extracted the samples for DNA analysis. The rest of the sample was stored separately for a food habits analysis. This study gave me my first real taste of field work and I feel I learned a lot from the experience.
Blanca Lopez de Juan AbadThis past summer I spent interning at the North Carolina Zoological Park's Rehabilitation Center. We admitted all of the native species, such as songbirds, small mammals, raptors, and reptiles. I was responsible for every day husbandry, such as keeping enclosures clean, feeding, handling, etc. But also got an opportunity to help in the medical aspect of the animals' welfare. Once the animals were deemed releasable, it was so fulfilling to participate in the medical check and release, and know that the animal was given another chance thanks to the work done at the Center.
This summer I participated in a Student Conservation Association (SCA) internship with the National Park Service (NPS). I was serving in Yellowstone National Park with the Aquatic Science Section on a gill netting crew. Our primary focus was to eliminate as many Lake Trout from Yellowstone Lake as possible to help promote the growth of the Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout population. I spent my days on a gill netting boat, pulling nets and untangling the fish from the nets, Lake Trout were killed and all live Cutthroats were put back in the lake. When I left the internship we had killed over 120,000 Lake Trout.
Sara MuellerThis past summer I worked as a bat technician for an environmental consulting company. Unlike many summer positions, this was not an internship but a job with a company in which I could increase in responsibility from year to year and eventually make a career if I chose to. Jobs took us throughout Illinois, Ohio, and West Virginia moving from hotel to hotel throughout the summer on a variety of projects. We used mist netting to do endangered species surveys (for bats) on a variety of projects for land developers and collected demographic data. This job was seven days a week from mid-May to mid-August with a few breaks. For some details, check out my blog, Going Batty: http://www.personal.psu.edu/sjm5467/blogs/going_batty/
For the summer I had a great opportunity to work with a park naturalist back home in Michigan, and be an interpretive program assistant….well, really a substitute assistant. I explain what I mean by that later. But what the job entailed was creating mini lessons for day camps that came to the park, and I had to teach them various aspects of wildlife. For example, I did programs dealing with native endangered species, what makes a fish a fish, and wetland creatures. I was able to semi get this position but simply volunteering two summers ago with the park naturalist. I told her I was really interested in doing education programs, and asked if I could help her out everyone once in a while. I mostly monitored kids, and only did a little helping with teaching. Later I discussed interest in volunteering more, and she directed me towards this program assistant job. I applied to be a full time position, but it was given to an older women with all her degrees and such. But they were still impressed with my experience (most of which came through programs TWS does), that they decided to have me help out still. My hopes are that because I got great reviews from my programs last summer, and will have gained even more experience this school year, that I will be able to be a full time assistant.
Megan DavisI began my time with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service when I volunteered at Rappahannock River Valley National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) in Warsaw, Virginia at 15 years old. I aided the staff in trail work and was offered a STEP position the following summer as a biological science aid. After being at Rappahannock River Valley NWR for three summers, I was offered a SCEP position in refuge management at Parker River NWR in Newburyport, Massachusetts, and had the pleasure of working with bats at Great Bay NWR using radio telemetry. We worked late hours into the night following bats around the Refuge to calculate home ranges for the two species, and I also led vegetation surveys on the day roosts! The project not only taught me about bats, but I was also able to strengthen my communication skills as I had to coordinate with local landowners to track bats on their adjacent property.
Dan LehmanDuring spring break in March of 2012, I went to Berks County for three days to help out in a deer study looking at reasons for mortality, and I also assisted wildlife aids in banding waterfowl. The two species which we banded were mallards and American black ducks. The deer were captured using two methods; rocket nets and drop nets. The work was very intense and thrilling, and it is quite challenging your first few times trying to calm a deer to have a radio transmitter attached around its neck.
For the Fall semester, I am volunteering at Center Wildlife Care. CWC is the wildlife rehabilitation center for central PA. While I’m there, I feed the orphaned squirrels, clean raptor cages (VERY carefully!), and do any other cleaning that needs done. I also help out with special events like the Wild About Animals Event in the spring. The squirrels at the center are adorable when they first start out there, but as they get older and they become weaned, they become more like wild squirrels. They are more difficult to handle and some can bite. The raptors can be a challenge. They do not like to be handled or have you in their space in any way. You have to very wary of the beaks and talons at all times. The Screech Owls are not so bad; though they are known to launch out of their cages when you open the door. Overall, I love the work that I do. I love being able to help. Center Wildlife Care is the place to go for a lot of orphaned or injured animals. Robyn and the rest of the team do a marvelous job taking care of them and I’m glad I can be a part of it.