Did you get the Dr. Seuss reference?! Anyways, I am currently living in Fort Columbia State Park in historic housing. Fort Columbia lies near the mouth of the Columbia River and was constructed between 1896 and 1903 as a coastal defense site. The views are breathtaking especially at sunset. My favorite part is the hidden beach at the bottom of the site which I discovered after speaking with some Park Rangers that are also living there. So far, no sign of ghosts!
My first day was a field work day working with local biologists, botanists, The Northern Coast Conservancy and other environmentalists on West Sand Island.
We took a small boat from the dock at Cape Disappointment across the Columbia Bar to the island to observe prairie habitats. Fun Fact: The Columbia Bar is the most dangerous waterway in the world! There is a Maritime Museum in Astoria about shipwrecks!
West Sand Island is a dynamic island that changes drastically during intense weather events and contains many different habitats, including prairies, which we were particularly interested in. We were working to find early blue violets which are prairie flowers that host the Oregon silverspot butterfly eggs. The silverspot is a threatened butterfly that, hopefully by restoring the prairies will repopulate the island. This trip was a great opportunity for me to learn about the invasive plants that threaten native species here.
Some of the invasive plants we encountered were Scotch broom, thistle, Himalayan blackberry, and gorse. We trekked through marshes, walked along the shoreline, wrestled with blackberry vines, battled with mosquitoes and tried to avoid the thick, thorny borse patches. It was a long day but definitely worth the trip, not only did I learn about the native species of the area, but I learned about the work of the various stakeholders working in restoration projects. This was the best first day of work ever!!
I look forward to the rest of my time here seeking adventure everywhere I go and forming connections with all that I meet.
“The mountains are calling and I must go.” John Muir
Hi everyone, my name is Ricardo Escobar-Burciaga. I made the move from Los Angeles, CA to Florissant, CO last weekend. To give you an idea of the drastic difference in lifestyle I will be adopting this summer, I moved from a city of more than 4 million people to a town of less than 120 people. The most difficult adjustment is going from checking email/social media accounts hourly in the city to having to drive more than 5 miles away to get decent signal and wifi. Although the remoteness and size of the area is quite a change, my heart has always been in the mountains, so I feel I am adapting quite well.
I could start off by describing my first week at the monument. However, I would like to focus instead on the experience I had during my move to Florissant, CO. Driving across the Colorado Plateau never ceases to amaze me! The sights, the sounds and the friendliness of the people is just incredible! I want to emphasize the fact that we are never in control of the events that take place in our lives. However, how we choose to invite the unexpected is completely up to us. Last Friday evening, on the way to Denver, my friend and I were snowed in Vail, CO (right in the heart of the Rockies) and I-70 was closed. We were supposed to get into Denver that evening to check into our hotel and my friend was to catch her flight the following morning. As you can imagine, I was panicking and concerned with where we would be spending the evening and how long I-70 would be closed for. With help from Susan of EFTA, however, we managed to book a hotel in Vail and made the most of the situation. In the end, we met some very friendly people there, we embraced the beauty the Rockies had to offer and my friend arrived to the airport on time. John Denver was absolutely correct; the purple mountains truly are majestic! And I mean that in all aspects! We made the most out of an unexpected situation!
For a brief insight into what I will be doing this summer; I will be working as an Education Specialist at Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument. It is one of the richest fossils sites in the world, with over 1500 species of insect fossils! My project will involve developing curriculum geared toward marginalized communities in the greater Colorado Springs area. There will be some component of outreach as well. I am incredibly excited to get started on my project as I am a strong advocate for promoting and increasing diversity in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). I am also looking forward to working with an amazing set of individuals that I had the honor of meeting this past week. Stay tuned for more on the Florissant Fossil Beds next week!
My name is Jacob Villalpando. I just started my new internship at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore as a pollinator steward. This week was mainly training about the rules and ethics of the park. Working for a federal agency is a different job experience than other experiences I have had. This was the first time that I had to have a key card to log on any computer. My mentor laid out the plan for the summer and I am more excited to get started. Mainly this week we scouted for vernal pools in the woods for another intern’s project. These pools are a type of seasonal wetland that is a wet habitat during the wet season and dried out during the dry season.
On my first day I got to try raspberry cheesecake french toast for lunch. My mentor has been showing other interns and me the layout of the park and what to expect in surveying these areas. My main task for right now is to read primary literature about native bees species and start figuring out what areas in the park would be good sites to sample. Overall, it was a great first week and can’t wait to see what’s next.
So first I’d like to begin by introducing myself. My name is Griselda and I am a returning intern. Last summer I was fortunate enough to receive an internship position at Denali National Park & Preserve and I can say without hesitation that it has by far been one of the most rewarding and beautiful experiences of my life. I completely fell in love with Alaska’s natural and wild beauty. Alaska was a country in which I knew I could go backpacking for days without encountering any human disturbances, and that was something I had never experienced before, despite growing up in Colorado whose Rock Mountains many consider able of providing that type of isolation from our developed world. So it was because of these amazing experiences which I gained by doing data collection and field work in nature that I was compelled to apply to the Mosaics in Science Internship program again.
This summer I will be on the opposite end of the spectrum in terms of location. The next ten weeks will be spent working for the National Park Service South Florida & Caribbean Inventory and Monitoring Network. I am looking forward to all the great experiences and skills I will gain this summer! Getting the opportunity to do a little exploring of Everglades National Park, which is where I will be staying this summer has made me all that more excited for my summer here.
How all this came to be :
So a bit about myself: I am 22-year-old Mexican-American woman studying Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Biology at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado with a minor in Ethnic Studies. I was born and raised in Aurora, Colorado and although I grew up in an urban setting my connection to the natural world was still a strong one. As a young child I craved being outdoors and would seek any opportunity I could to be outdoors, whether it was simply going to the backyard to help my parents with the garden or going to natural areas for day-long family picnics where I wandered through the trees with my sisters and cousins until dusk, pretending there was nothing more to life than the pure bliss I felt at those moments when I was surrounded by the people I loved with my feet and hands covered in dirt, my hair tousled by the wind and my soul singing with joy.
It is, in part, because of those moments that I cherish so much that I first began to develop a love for nature and the land; a love that would develop into a passion for the conservation of all things wild, from something as small as lichen to something as large as a grizzly bear.
I grew up in Aurora, Colorado but both my parents come from a rural community in Mexico so they began to install a love for all things natural and wild inside of me since I was a little toddler. I recall how much I would enjoy listening to my parents’ stories about their experiences growing up in rural south-central Mexico. Another reason I came to value nature so much was because of the sacrifice I would see my parents make to take us outdoors. Although they were often working, from sunrise to sunset six days a week and didn’t have the time or means to take my siblings and I out to natural areas on a frequent basis they still made an effort to take us out to the mountains or grasslands at least once every two months. Seeing the sacrifice my parents would make to take us outdoors made me cherish those days we got to spent outside together as a family all the more.
As I grew older my passion for nature and helping preserve its beauty grew, as did my passion for other things such as literature, history, art and all activism that aimed to protect the environment and that addressed social justice issues (specifically in regards to indigenous communities). That is how I came to be at CSU studying both Biology and Ethnic Studies, and it was through my job in the Listening Lab with the National Park Service, which I first heard about from one of my Wildlife professors, that I then heard about the Mosaics in Science Internship program.
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!
Hi my name is Malik Robinson and I am from a place called Waldorf located in Southern Maryland. I am currently a rising junior at the amazing and illustrious North Carolina A&T State University. While attending this college I am studying Sustainable Land Management. For those who do not know what that major is about, it is the science of soils and vegetation and learning ways to improve soil quality and plant growth in a safe way. Both of these places Waldorf and Greensboro (where A&T is located) are very city like and without much nature to view. When coming to Montana for this internship I really didn’t know what to expect, this was my first time ever flying, so that’s really what I was concentrated on. However when arriving to the airport in Montana all worries were out the window as soon as the plane became lower than the clouds all I saw was this great beauty that I have never seen before!
Its like a completely new world I have never seen such beauty and such enormous mountains so up close before. Therefore I love it here its amazing !!! It has only been a week since we arrived here and I already feel at home. For those who do not know I am currently completing this internship for the monitoring and inventory of Yellowstone Park. I am currently staying on campus at Montana State University in the town of Bozeman. In Bozeman there are so many nice people so it became easy to get settled in and also every where you go or any direction you look, you will see a mountain in the background its simply amazing! Since we have arrived I have learned so much from types of plants, names of mountains, reading maps, learning GPS systems, safety in the parks and forest`s and have seen animals from big Bison and Elk, to little field mice. So far my favorite part has been traveling to Hyalite Canyon which was just beautiful and loaded with amazing scenery. There we climbed and got to about 6,256 Ft!!!
So far its been an amazing week and I can tell this is going to be an amazing internship experience to never be forgotten!!! I can`t wait for next week!
Greetings everyone, my name is Marquise White and I am from Waldorf Maryland. I am currently a Senior at Frostburg State University where I am pursuing a degree in Wildlife & Fisheries, and minoring in Biology and French. As a child, I was always outside exploring my surroundings, and appreciating the outdoors. My adventures outdoors along with watching channels such as Animal Planet, National Geographic, and the Discovery Channel sparked my interest in wildlife and natural resources.
I am currently interning at the Greater Yellowstone Inventory and Monitoring Network where I will be taking part in several research projects such as Pika and vegetation monitoring, and water quality sampling to name a few. I am staying at Montana State University in Bozeman Montana. It is absolutely breathtaking here in Bozeman. There are vast amounts of wildlife and mountains. The first week mainly consisted of in-office training to prepare us for the things I will be doing throughout my internship. In my short time here, I have already been on several hikes in the surroundings areas, and it is very beautiful. I find myself constantly amazed at how beautiful the landscape is. I am very excited to see what this summer has in-store for me. I am very fortunate to have received this internship and I am looking forward to new experiences and meeting new people. I fully intend on using this internship to learn new things as well as network with the people I meet to hopefully gain insight on potential career paths for me.
My name is Elizabeth. I was born and raised in southern California. I studied Conservation Resource Studies with a minor in Forestry in northern California and just graduated! I love being outdoors hiking, swimming, or even just sitting under the shade of a tree. This summer, I will be interning at Valley Forge National Park in Pennsylvania. It is my first time on the east coast and so far, I have had a great time! I have already had many insightful conversations with several staff members in the park. I got to learn and take part in managing an invasive crayfish population in the creek that runs along the park. I had a great time feeling the fresh water running past my feet while looking for and collecting rusty crayfish. It has only been a week and I have already learned a lot.
I am definitely interested in working towards conservation but I have yet to find out what specific field I want to dive into. This week, I communicated my long list of interests within conservation to my supervisor and thankfully, I will have the opportunity to explore many of these interests throughout the summer. Through this experience, I am hoping to find which specific aspect of conservation I would like to pursue as a career.
I am really excited for what is to come this summer!
Laura Palma reporting for duty! Destination: US Virgin Island St. Croix
I hail from the distant land of Miami Florida, born and raised. It’s also where I attained a Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology from Florida International University. As a recent graduate, I can tell you I don’t have money. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills; skills I have acquired as a scientific diver. That is what drew me to this particular internship. But diving alone was not enough to hook me line and sinker; the opportunity to explore and study a new ecosystem and organism, seagrass beds and green sea turtles, is what sealed the deal. I have never worked with sea turtles or conducted intensive research with seagrasses, something I won’t be able to say by the end of this internship.
While I’m here I intend to take full advantage of the opportunity MOSAICS has given me not only from the research perspective but also from the National Park Service (NPS) aspect. I’m curious to experience what it will be like working for NPS and whether it will be a good fit for me. As most of my experience has been with academic institutions, this internship will allow me to expand my career experience with other agencies. I’ve only been here six days and already I’ve had the pleasure of interacting with some great scientists including several from NOAA. I hope this experience will help me determine if graduate school will be my next feat.
I’d like to give a big thank you to my project mentor, Alexandra Gulick (Graduate Student, Archie Carr Center for Sea Turtle Research, University of Florida) and my NPS supervisors, Clayton Pollock (Biologist) and Zandy Hillis-Starr (Chief of Resource Management) for offering me this opportunity.