Hello to all of my fellow interns. My name is Jacobo Carrasco and I am the Santa Cruz River Education Intern at Tumcacacori National Historical Park (TNHP). I was born and raised here in Rio Rico, Arizona. I live about 15 minutes away from the park. I received my Bachelors in biology at Northern Arizona University and my Masters at the University of Arizona South in secondary education. I also lead bird walk tours at TNHP and have volunteered here since the summer of 2013.
I am deeply excited to intern at TNHP! Every time I visit the Santa Cruz River I feel like Professor Challenger from The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle because as I explore this river I get excited about educating kids here. Although it runs right through our communities, the Santa Cruz River riparian habitat is truly a lost world where very few students get to visit and understand its importance in the area. My plan is to develop lesson plans that encourage students to visit the river and explore its habitats and wildlife. Perhaps learning how important it is will inspire them to care for it.
This week I was fortunate enough to be able to go to Glacier National Park. We stayed in an amazing house in the research community in West Glacier, just outside the park entrance. We took part of the National Park service’s citizen science program, which included phenology training, high country training, and a mushroom bio-blitz. During the phenology training we were taught how to identify huckleberry bushes, and their varying stages. We went hiking and surveyed huckleberry plants of the park and input the data into a newly developed app for the citizen science program. For the high country training, we learned about animals that live in alpine habitats such as pika, mountain goats, and big horn sheep. We traveled to East Glacier to monitor and collect data on these species. We had a day to do what we wanted, so we decided to take part in a re-vegetation program that involved planting whitebark pine seedlings in an area that was burned two years ago. The whitebark pines grow at high altitudes, so it was a very long and steep hike to the burn area. Despite the daunting hike, we were able to get some amazing views. During our final day in Glacier National Park, we took part in a mushroom bio-blitz, in which we searched for fungi with mycologists from Canada, in East Glacier. If you haven’t been to Glacier National Park, I strongly encourage you to plan a trip there because it is absolutely spectacular!
This week as we were out cray-fishing we received a call from our supervisor telling us a park ranger had found an injured robin. We quickly gathered some gloves, pair of cutters, and a cage and headed over to where the robin was found. When we got there she was hobbling in the grass with a white string dangling behind. When a fellow intern picked it up, we saw that the string was wound pretty tightly in her wing resulting in a cut. We started cutting off pieces of the string and gently began removing it. Luckily, she was able to move her wing but since she had a bleeding wound, we took her to a local sanctuary. They told us to check on the robin next week to hopefully bring it back to Valley Forge.
On another note, we had crayfish core today and I was leading a group of volunteers that were a family with two kids. The kids were really energetic and loved learning. They instantly began asking many insightful questions and began making observations out loud. As the biotech here in Valley Forge debriefed everyone on the importance of flipping back some of the rocks to not disturb the environment, he pulled out an invasive weed nearby and the kid looked up to him and said, “Didn’t you just kill that plant?” This is why I enjoy working with kids. I enjoy hearing the questions and comments they blurt out and despite being young, older folks can still learn from them.
At the International Urban Wildlife Conference, you may have spotted National Park Service biologists and their representatives amongst some of the world’s most renowned wildlife scientists.
Held at San Diego State University, the conference provided an opportunity for scientists to present a wide array of research to their peers on topics such as bioacoustics, balancing the scientific and educational goals of urban biodiversity, management and monitoring strategies of conservation, human-wildlife interactions, citizen science on a global level, facing both invasive and endangered species from a biological point of view and so much more. Proceeding the scheduled speakers, four scientists from Cabrillo National Monument presented individual posters on various research that is being done at the park. Austin Parker, Wildlife Biologist, discussed monitoring the urban interface utilization by feral cats for endangered species conversation. Reyna Zavala, Videographer and Animator, displayed her animated short film on hybridization amongst native King Snakes titled Cabrillo Field Notes: Snakes Encounters Of The Third Kind
Wildlife Biologist, Stephanie Root elaborated on recent findings of bats on the urban island known as the Point Loma Peninsula (Click here for background information). Finally, I, Nicole Ornelas, presented Cabrillo National Monument’s most recent educational program at the park called 3D Cabrillo. 3D Cabrillo brings biomodels into the 21st century by using free 3D software in collaboration with our hands-on curriculum to teach the public how to create 3D printed creatures.
With this research and more to come, the National Park Service will remain relevant with the coming age of convergence between technology and conservation. The International Urban Wildlife Conference provided an academic platform for our research to be presented and networking opportunities to be established, but it is in our hands to further scientific endeavors, like these, to best manage our public lands.
Click here to find out more about 3D Cabrillo or watch a step by step demonstration of how a 3D printed biomodel is made.
For more information about the International Urban Wildlife Conference visit: http://www.urban-wildlife.org/
Hey everyone I’m Christian Heggie and this summer through the Greening Youth Foundation and Mosaics in Science Diversity Internship Program, I’m heading up north!
My internship will be at the Cuyahoga Valley National Park in northeast Ohio. I will be working as a river technician assistant, helping to plot access points, map river trails, test water quality, and more! I am a senior at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro majoring in Environmental Studies with a concentration in Sustainability. I’ve always loved to be outside and dream of one day hopefully working on a national park. This is an incredible opportunity and I’m ready to learn as much as I can!
This week I had the opportunity of visiting the Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site. This was my first time visiting a National Historic Site so I wasn’t sure what to expect but the site was a beautiful area surrounded by meadows, forests, and wetlands as well as the French Creek State Park. When we first arrived here, we had some time to explore some of the artifacts and talk to the park rangers inside the visitor’s center. Afterwards, we removed some invasive plants and helped replace a fence that was protecting a re-seeded area from deer. After lunch, we had some time to walk around the historic site and I got to learn a little about how wood was transformed into charcoal. Ignited wood was built into what they called a three corner chimney, covered with leaves and dirt, and ignited in these charcoal pits (picture to the left). For 10-14 days, workers would keep an eye on the ignited stack of wood to stop any open flames while they waited for the wood to fully char. Once the wood was fully charred, the cooled charcoal would be loaded onto wagons and taken to a cooling shed.
I look forward to spending more time in Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site and learning more about the history there. This week’s visit was a nice sneak peek at what there is to learn about.
Later on in the week, we participated in crayfish corps. It is a volunteer based program in the park that works on removing the invasive rusty crayfish. While we were out in the creek with a group of volunteers, we found a crayfish with eggs! Luckily, this particular crayfish species was a native so we were able to place it back into the water safe and sound.
This week I got to start setting up for the native bee project. The project is being finalized and soon will begin sampling what species have been inhabiting the dunes. The exciting part of this week was getting a chance to do restoration work for the day taking out invasive species with herbicide. The rest of was week was spent researching methodologies and current conservation issues with native bees. Next week there will be an event call ISWOOP where park interpreters will learn from researches about different conservation topics to express awareness to the public. The picture below shows bowls that will be set up in transects in sample areas. The bowls will be filled with soapy water to remove surface tension so when bees land in the bowl, they are captured. The color of the bowls mimics flower color because bees are attracted to these colors when they are pollinating. Bees are generally attracted to flower color as it is the most noticeable characteristic of the plant. The importance of this project is to catalog what species of bees inhabit the park. It is a replication of a study that was conducted in 2011 that inventoried bee species in the park. The bowls help maximize collection and sampling efforts with the hopes that the collections will give us a good representation of bee species captured. Previous studies have found that the park has 200 different species of native bees. I hope to find as many species as I can this summer with the hopes of measuring how these populations have changed since they were surveyed in 2011.
The Lewis and Clark National Historical Park was established in 2004 to commemorate the journey of Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Discovery through the Pacific Northwest. The park includes various sites: Salt Works, Dismal Nitch, the reconstruction of Fort Clatsop, the Fort to Sea trail, Cape Disappointment, and the Middle Village (qí’qayaqilam)/Station Camp. Fort Clatsop was the first military fort west of the Rockies where Lewis and Clark camped, traded with Clatsop natives, and hunted elk during the harsh winter of 1805. The Lewis and Clark National Historical Park preserves, restores and interprets important historical, cultural and natural resources along the lower Columbia River area (Foundation Document). The park, comprising of numerous state and NPS units, encompasses 3,245 acres of land within Washington and Oregon. Sitka spruce stand tall throughout the coastal temperate rainforest, emergent marshes provide habitat for local wildlife, and the stream channel is essential for the survival of young salmon. In order to restore and preserve the natural resources that were so valuable to the Corps of Discovery, the natives, and for future generations, the park resources management team works on restoration projects within the park and in collaboration with other partnerships.
This is where my story interweaves with Lewis and Clarks’. I am a Mosaics in Science Intern working with the National Park Service to process vegetation monitoring data that has been collected for the past ten years for the Columbia Estuary Ecosystem Restoration Program. While I have been here, I have learned that restoration projects consist of of many moving parts. Grants are tedious and provide the funding for these projects to exist. Partnerships with organizations such as the Northwest Oregon Restoration Partnership (NORP), allow for the sharing of technical expertise, growing of nat
ive plants, and grant matching for the restoration projects to be successful. Biological technicians, interns, and volunteers go out into the field to handle invasive plant species to allow native plants to flourish. Native plants are grown at the park nursery to plant thousands of young plants to regenerate habitats. Forest thinning remove Douglas fir, remnants of logging plantings to allow the native Sitka spruce and big leaf Maple to prosper and create disturbance for forest renewal. Restoration projects are necessary to restore the ecological processes that have been destroyed by anthropogenic influences. Logging and pasture grazing have transformed what used to be lush, thriving environments for many wildlife and plants.
Every day is an adventure; I get to participate at partnership meetings, learn about native plants, and be part of a larger effort to restore this beautiful place for all to enjoy.
“I slept and dreamt that life was joy, awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold service was joy.” –Rabindranath Tagore, Indian poet
In last week’s post, I briefly introduced what I will be working on at Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument this summer. After meeting with my supervisors earlier this week, my project task has now been solidified. I will be creating a Geology/Paleontology summer camp for students (Grades 4th-6th) from socioeconomically disadvantaged communities. This camp would be implemented in the summer of 2018. However, this summer will see the testing of many of the planned activities for the camp, both on and offsite. My first task was to create an outline of the activities and daily themes the camp will have. After an hour-long discussion with my supervisors on Friday afternoon, we decided it would be a good idea for me to host a brown bag meeting next Friday where I will present my summer camp outline to the entire (or most) staff for extra feedback and suggestions.
A big component of my project requires me to do community outreach. I stressed to my supervisors that although the main focus of this camp is to get students excited about geology and paleontology, we must also focus on getting the community and parents involved in the camp. Just as the famous African proverb states “It takes a village to raise a child”, it also takes an entire community to raise a scientist. This coming week I will be meeting with an elementary teacher from Colorado Springs who participated in the National Park Service’s Teacher-Ranger-Teacher program for ideas on how to engage students in science. Then on Saturday, I will head into Denver for the Get Outdoors Colorado event where I plan to meet with other outdoor educators and build a strong network and support system.
Quick sneak peak into the camp: On one of the camp days, students will go down to the local Florissant Fossil Quarry to sift through sheets and sheets of paper shale in search of fossils. I can attest to the excitement and addiction this activity brings, as all of us interns at Florissant Fossil Beds lost track of time while digging for fossils at the quarry. The best part about the quarry, you get to keep your findings!
It’s hard to believe that my first week at Rocky Mountain is already over. I’ve only been here for 5 days and somehow it feels like I’ve been here forever. While seasonal staff training begins officially on Monday, I was really privileged to go out into the park twice with both the park photographer and one of the more established rangers and become acquainted to the park and some of its most compelling ecological features. While we drove, hiked and spoke with dozens of volunteers, rangers and support staff, I was able to speak with them directly and specifically about how to cultivate a personal relationship with such a beautiful place that I can translate into creating successful and impactful interpretive programs this summer. What is interpretation? What does my role really mean?
In Interpreting Our Heritage, Freeman Tilden writes, “The visitor’s chief interest is in whatever touches his personality, his experiences, and his ideals. The adult visitor who happens to be the auditor or reader of interpretation has no general awe of the interpreter…He does not so much wish to be talked at as to be talked with.”
I’ve been reading Tilden as I try to sort out what my role means for me; for the visitors I’ll be interacting with; for the Park Service. How do I engage with visitors in a way that animates the natural history of the park? Its social history and implications? How do I make the Calypso orchid not merely a small purple speck on the trail but bring it alive in its context? How do you properly blend the intellectual and emotional to really impact a visitor?
I’m asking lots of questions, but as one of the rangers told me yesterday, this is the time for questions. I am excited for training to begin next week and begin to put some meat on the bones of my relationship to this park. This weekend I plan to keep hiking and running; soaking in as much of the personal and emotional as I can.
Here are some of my favorite photos that capture some of the best moments of this week:
On another note, elk are everywhere and I intend to close every blog post with them. They’re majestic and quirky (which must be why I am so enamored with them), but if you ever intend to visit Rocky, you should start by accepting just how commonplace they are… these tri-tone landscape fixtures with the capacity to define the landscape of an entire park.