Hello everyone! My name is Sidney Woodruff, and I just started my internship with Greening Youth Foundation and the National Park Service this summer through the Mosaics in Science Diversity Internship Program. I’ll be completing my program in herpetological conservation at Yosemite National Park in California. I never thought I would be able to one day actually say those words!
I’m currently a senior at the University of Georgia pursuing a dual degree program in Forestry and Wildlife Sciences. I will be graduating in December 2017, so this is a nice way to finish off my degree! I’ve always had a passion for the outdoors and working in the conservation field. This internship will allow me to work alongside NPS biologists and biological science technicians to restore high elevation lakes for the endangered Sierra Nevada Yellow-legged frog, control invasive Bullfrog populations, and track and monitor Western Pond turtle sites.
With the first week already done, including a four-day tour in frontcountry Yosemite tracking and surveying turtles, I’m more than excited to see what else this summer has to offer!
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to enter a cave by sinking up to your chest in a pool of quicksand-like packrat poop?
If not, I’m here to tell you that it is a slightly alarming but mostly hilarious experience, and feels very much like your legs and torso are being gently squeezed by a blood pressure cuff. It is also a prime example of the amazing, unexpected opportunities I’m just starting to discover in my first two weeks as the Astronomy Intern at Great Basin National Park. My name is Brenna Rodriguez, and I love my job!
When I left my home in North Carolina and struck out alone on a 2,293 mile drive to Great Basin National Park, I was terrified of the uncertainties that reared up before me. Could I handle five days of forced solitude? Would I get harassed by a creepy stranger in the middle of nowhere? Would my car break down in the desert, miles from cell phone reception or services?
Fortunately, my fears proved to be unfounded, and the drive was fairly tame. Since arriving in Nevada, park staff and local residents have been incredibly welcoming, and I’ve been able to watch the town of Baker and the park itself come alive with wildflowers and tourists as the high-visitation season begins. Many of my first days in the park were spent shadowing interpretive cave and astronomy programs, hiking in slightly snowy weather, looking for fossils, and getting to know the folks who make a living in this slightly lonesome town.
Great Basin National Park is designated as an International Dark Sky Park, and has a huge variety of natural points of interest, including a network of wild caves and a developed cavern. Since I recently graduated with a bachelor’s degree in geology, and am particularly interested in speleology and astrobiology, I am very excited to have access to the park’s natural resources. Through the summer, I hope to develop meaningful interpretive cave and astronomy programs, and look forward to cross-training with other divisions to gain a more in-depth understanding of the park.
I’m thrilled to be living and working in Great Basin National Park, and I look forward to sharing my discoveries with you!