Perks about working in a completely new place is that every day is an adventure, an opportunity to discover something new, a different perspective to view the world. I am fortunate to have the ability to explore the surrounding landscape on my days off. I am in Astoria, Oregon; it is the oldest town west of the Rockies as it was passed through by the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Astoria was home to many Chinook and Clatsop natives. Astoria lies at the mouth of the Columbia River where it meets the Pacific Ocean. The water provides a prosperous environment for salmon which deposit rich nutrients for lush forests. As a result, Astoria was home to many salmon canneries and an important port for shipping resources such as lumber. Today, Astoria is an official Coast Guard city, with many ships coming into the port every day. Sea lions hang out on the docks and can be heard barking blocks away.
Astoria’s claim to Hollywood fame is The Goonies which is celebrated every year during National Goonies Day on June 7th. Featured below is the county jail from the movie which is now a film museum.
The historical sites throughout the city commemorate the people who have contributed to the rich history of fishing and boating. The Garden of Surging Waves celebrates the Chinese heritage of Astoria. I enjoy this park because it is a relaxing place to unwind and reflect.
The Astoria Column sits at the top of a hill in the middle of town and paints the history of Astoria. The column can be accessed by a few different hiking trails that connect parts of town. One of my favorite trails is behind Clatsop Community College and features artwork throughout the trail.
For a small town, there are a few sites to see but it is also accessible to many other places. I went camping at Saddle Mountain, approximately 45 minutes from Astoria. I embarked on the 3.5mi hike up the mountain at 5:30pm. The trail was extremely steep and treacherous as it was slippery from a creek running through it. Once near the top, clouds covered the peak and salty mist impaired my vision. Violent gusts of wind attempted to push me off the mountainside as I held on and continued to ascend the
peak. Finally, my body was eased with relief as I crawled to the top. The view was unclear, clouds surrounded the entire mountain and I could barely see five feet in front of me. The real challenge was getting down before sunset in a thick fog. I celebrated my victorious climb to Saddle Mountain with a fire and s’mores at my campsite near the base of the mountain. Who knows where this place will take me next, stay tuned!
“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.” -John Muir
“Young people and their phones, ugh!”
“Excuse me, can you take a photo of us?”
“I don’t want to hike all of that.”
“Where is the closest wifi?”
These are some of the things my family and I heard while walking around the more touristy areas of Yosemite National Park. For my internship, I don’t spend too much time in the Valley, where about 95% of visitors to the park hang out. I wanted to see more of the views that you typically see in photos of Yosemite, and it would give us some time to do some shorter day hikes, since my family isn’t a big camping or backpacking family for backcountry trails.
As we passed and interacted with other park visitors, we saw people in flip flops, jeans, single use plastic water bottles, sodas, and everything else in between that you wouldn’t expect to see while hiking. Besides the fact that some of those things are unsafe for certain trails, it reminds me that people experience national parks in different ways. Some visitors see a visit to a national park as a place to shop and walk around the main areas. Others see it as a place to do some backpacking and backcountry camping. Others even see it as a place to exist without actually interacting with it. None of these experiences are better or worse than others. All of these experiences are valid and should be protected and available in our national parks.
There are differences in ways that generations experience national parks as well. There is a stereotype that young people are disconnected from the natural world and don’t stop to appreciate it, which I beg to differ considering the widespread use of hashtags during the park centennial celebration or varying environmental movements. Selfie culture is a thing, but it can spread the word of the awesomeness of our parks! On the other side, there’s a stereotype that older generations don’t have the drive or mobility to get close with nature, and only want to experience it from their RV or bus. From my time in the park, I’ve seen tons of people that live in these stereotypes and also tons that break outside of them. Either way, people are visiting and contributing to the park! As long as the park remains accessible to all of those different experiences, the national park is doing its duty to allow people to see nature at its best. That includes people with handicaps and disabilities, people from other cultures with different languages, people with children, and so on. At Yosemite, I believe they are doing just that!
As a child I always liked looking at the different colored layers of soil on the side of recently eroded mountains. I enjoyed following a single layer as far as I could and watching the line of the layer randomly curve and straighten out. I liked looking at the soil horizons as the sun would hit them with its rays and they would glisten back. I was taken back to this as I helped the park’s archaeologist analyze the soil horizons visible from the creek trying to unravel stories and events of the past.
^ Here’s a picture of the archaeologist determining which color the soil was using a soil color book for classification.
For the first image:
After wetting and mixing the soil, it was analyzed by following a table and running a couple tests such as the ribbon test. The table helps determine what type of soil it is based on its physical characteristics.
I have been inspired to write a rap for you:
I can barely see past, the reed canary grass
The river is just ahead, if only the Pharlaris would drop dead
Third week out here, I’ve spotted a few deer
Learning about weed whacking, even some elk tracking
Mud in my boots, pulling out invasive roots
I am sent out here to kill; tomorrow I will need an advil
Lewis and Clark made their mark, here at this park.
Now its my turn to impress, WAIT HOLD UP, sorry to transgress
This rap is about weeds, so I shall proceed about stopping seeds
This is the optimal time, for pulling baby vines
Holly, laurel, and blackberry, do not belong in the prairie
Nor in the temperate rainforest, that I am exploring
Now its easy to get mixed up, not talking about a buttercup
Rubus laciniatus, urinus, and discolor, now to tell them apart from each other
Himalayan blackberry (R. discolor) has a robust stem with heavy prickles
Bear with me and my riddles
Cutleaf (R. laciniatus) have five serrate, lobed leaflets
Both of these sweet berries pose serious threats
We have to protect our native plants, preserve the forests,
the wetlands and even the hornets.
Invasive species control is important,
I hope rapping made this info absorbent.
If not, just remember…
NPS is the best, forget all the rest!
Over the past couple of weeks I’ve gotten the opportunity to share the skills I’ve be gaining, with my supervisor and a couple other scientists. Raven Pro, Kaleidoscope, SongMeter are all very different softwares that are unfamiliar to researchers in Everglades, and the South Florida and Caribbean Inventory and Monitoring Network. It is quite rewarding to know that I am helping pave a new path in how data can be collected and analyzed. Acoustic ecology is still a relatively new field and I’m glad that the skills on gained during my internship in Alaska, last summer, are allowing me to make an impact at here at the SFCN.
During my time here at the Cuyahoga Valley National Park I will be helping to get the Cuyahoga River designated as an official national water trail, which is defined as a recreational route along a lake, river, canal or bay specifically designated for people using small boats like kayaks, canoes or SUPs. Obviously during my short stay here the designation won’t happen, but I will be gathering information on things like user counts, access points for the river, and water quality, and organizing it into useful data. At the park we have three main “unofficial” access points that people use to get onto the river. The Cuyahoga River is roughly 104 miles long, and 22 of those miles go through the park. Which means getting this river designated as an official national water trail is a group effort between the park and other groups along the river. So far I’ve really been focusing on these, and trying to find other ones within the park.
But this week I was able to go view other access points on the river that are within the watershed. We took pictures and completed site evaluation forms for the four access points we visited in the neighboring county. It was pretty cool to go and visit other access points along the river and know that all the information I’m gathering and helping to organize is going towards this super awesome goal of a national water trail!
Science is often valued as a way to understand how the world works and leverage that understanding to better human society. Yet, there is growing mistrust in science among the public. Some people see science as pretentious, elitist, or misleading; this attitude is frankly dangerous.
Interpretation can play a significant role in repairing the relationship to science as I learned during my three days of training at Yosemite National Park. Together with some amazing individuals from the Klamath Inventory and Monitoring Network, I attended two of the Bat Chat programs at Yosemite. The Bat Chats combined scientific data collection with interpretative talks by recording echolocation calls with visitors while sharing information about bats. The data collected from the Bat Chat was then incorporated into a long-term acoustic monitoring program to examine the effects of climate change or habitat disruption on bat species. Visitors were able to actively engage in the scientific process rather than passively observe it. Because both interpreters and visitors were collecting data together, there was less of an us-them hierarchy between citizens and scientists. By intertwining bat biology with personal experience, the interpreters constructed genuine emotional connections to scientific facts. You could see visitors’ faces light up and hear them ooh and ah when we heard bats! This upcoming week I’ll be incorporating the lessons on science communication from Yosemite to improve on my own Bat Walk program.
These last couple of adventures have been a blast!!! I have seen Wolves, Black Bears, Elk, Antelope and even Bison all in the same day!! We were on hikes with the wolf monitoring teams in Yellowstone. We were in search of wolf clusters which are where they slept or stayed for a certain amount of time either on a kill or just laying around getting some sun. We then went on with an amphibian crew and went on the search for tadpoles, frogs, and salamanders. It was a very fun time a good amount of hiking too. We will be starting our independent research projects in the following week so I am excited to start that,
Certain experiences in your life can create such an impact on who you are and where your passions lie. I was lucky enough to grow up camping, hiking, and travelling with my family and friends often. Through those cherished memories I found my passion for exploring wild places and conserving wildlife. My name is Saba Rahman and I grew up in Maryland where I have had the opportunity to explore and become familiar with the habitats and wildlife seen in this region and am excited to immerse myself in a national park in a neighboring state, Virginia. I graduated from the University of Maryland in 2016 with a degree in environmental science and policy with a concentration in wildlife ecology and management. I was involved in the Wildlife Society at UMD and was also part of a co-ed service fraternity. Through these organizations I had a lot of opportunities to do a variety of service work, which was a big part of why I enjoyed my time at UMD. Overall, I had great experiences at UMD and I hope to use both the knowledge I gained and experience I had to help me excel in my position this summer.
This summer I have the opportunity to work at Manassas National Battlefield Park as a Biological Technician Intern. I will be working with grassland birds and performing habitat management at the park. I am so excited to work with the wildlife biologist at the park and get to learn from her and get hands on experience performing research in a national park. I hope to improve my fieldwork techniques and my ability to display data in a more accessible way through GIS and other programs. I have done fieldwork on Poplar Island on the Chesapeake Bay before and I absolutely loved it and can not wait to head to Virginia. The picture below is of me holding a diamondback terrapin when I was out on Poplar Island and I can not wait to take more pictures in the field and share them with you all. I have always wanted to work with the National Park Service and I am so happy the Mosaics program has now given me the chance to do so. Looking forward to growing and learning as much as I can this summer!
A Mosaics in Science Internship is a rich opportunity to work side-by-side with scientists and other professionals. In 2016, participants were part of bat research, bird surveys, seed collection projects, geological surveys, archeological explorations, and much more. Throughout MIS, interns receive additional training through weekly webinars and help to share the mission of the program through this Blog. At the conclusion of their experience, interns share their work with other participants during the post-internship career workshop. The career workshop, for most interns, is the first opportunity to meet other interns face-to-face. Each shares their summer’s work during an oral or poster presentation. Guest speakers provide additional information about preparing applications for federal positions, diversity in the workplace, and science careers. Want to be a Mosaics in Science intern? Visit the internships and learn more about the 2017 positions.
You can’t pick a better or more beautiful place to spend a summer than in a National Park. In 2017, Mosaics in Science (MIS) interns will travel to Denali National Park, Rocky Mountain National Park, Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park, and Great Basin National Park, to name a few. Each of the sites has competed with many others to be part of MIS 2017 and are working to make the summer experience fulfilling. With these diverse sites comes an array of research and education opportunities in an equally broad suite of habitats and climates. From Alaska to Colorado to Washington, D.C. and Florida, each intern will have a different, yet similar experience. While one may sweat during turtle surveys, another may be bundled in a coat and hat to while tracking butterflies. Whatever the experience, it will last a lifetime!
A day in the field for a Mosaics in Science (MIS) intern can be a journey into a lava tube, a hike to a high elevation pond, or time indoors at the computer entering data. MIS experiences happen all over the country in some of America’s most spectacular national parks, such as Yosemite National Park in California, Mount Rushmore National Memorial in South Dakota, and Everglades National Park in Florida. Wherever they are, participants gain critical skills needed to pursue careers in geology, natural resources, wildlife ecology, environmental education, and more. Just a few insights from our 2016 MIS interns include:
I have gained skills related to field work…and also have learned to become a more independent worker. I believe I am now better at independent research and finding solutions or answers to unknowns.
Skills I developed are how to use GPS, frog surveying, and tracking encroachment using Arc Collector app.
The highlights of my internship included learning how to navigate with a compass and map in remote wilderness settings, becoming familiar with the backpacking lifestyle, experiencing the solitude of the landscape of backcountry Yosemite, and meeting scientists from all around the country.
After processing the video footage from our first week of stationary camera deployments, we noticed we were not alone. Most people just recognize her as a shark, but that’s an understatement. She’s a tiger shark. Locals have taken to calling her Tony the Tiger. National Park Service biologists and technicians have yet to encounter one in their many years of diving around Buck Island so my team and I are confident we won’t be crossing paths with Tony while scuba diving.
NPS has been working with multiple collaborators to study the movements of sharks within the monument using acoustic telemetry. Given these recent sightings of Tony in our video footage, NPS biologists are eager to see if they can cross reference these sightings with detections from acoustic receivers installed near our camera monitoring site. We hope to find that Tony is one of the individuals that was tagged in previous years.
Tiger sharks are natural predators to sea turtles. Their serrated teeth allow them to tear through the turtle’s carapace (shell). Even though Tony has been feeding on our study subjects, we’re happy that she’s here. The presence of apex predators is one of the signs of a healthy ecosystem. Believe it or not, they play an important role in structuring seagrass ecosystems. They balance the food web as well as prevent lower levels from exhausting resources.
Healthy seagrass ecosystem = Abundant greens turtles = Tiger sharks
It’s important to understand the significance of top-down control in natural ecosystems in order to better establish conservation and management baselines that could predict ecosystem responses to natural and anthropogenic change.
Lisa Norby Welcome to the National Park Service and the Mosaics in Science Diversity Internship Program! I am pleased that you are joining us as a Mosaics in Science intern this summer. Your role is critical in fulfilling the National Park Service (NPS) mission and I hope that you will find your work rewarding, challenging, meaningful, and lots of fun.
My name is Lisa Norby – I am the NPS Program Manager for the Mosaics in Science Diversity Internship Program and have bachelors and masters degrees in geology. I work with the NPS Geologic Resources Division and have been working with the NPS for the last 23 years. I have worked with a variety of youth programs since I was in high school, and in 2013, I created the Mosaics in Science Program with George McDonald, Chief of the NPS Youth Programs Division. The Mosaics Program is funded by the NPS and is managed in partnership with Environment for the Americas (EFTA) and Greening Youth Foundation (GYF). The Program’s objectives are to encourage diverse youth 18-35 years old to pursue studies in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and science) fields, introduce program participants to science careers in the National Park Service, and increase relevance, diversity, and inclusion in the NPS workplace.
I am excited that you will be joining the NPS team and hope that you have a fun and successful internship with the NPS. We really appreciate your interest in the National Park Service and your assistance protecting and preserving the outstanding natural resources in our national parks. Most of the communication you will receive this summer will be from EFTA/GYF, but I want you to know that I am available anytime to answer any questions you have about the program, the NPS, or science careers. I can be reached at email@example.com. I am really excited to talk with you over the summer and to meet you in person at the career workshop in Colorado!
Welcome to the Mosaics in Science Program! Congratulations on having been selected as a Mosaics intern this summer. The coming weeks may be a life-changing experience for you. My name is Limaris “Lima” Soto, and I am the Program Coordinator with the National Park Service. I received my Bachelor’s degree in Geology from the University of Puerto Rico and my Master’s degree in Geology from the University of South Florida. My scientific interests include; cave/karst science, hydrogeology, geophysics, education and outreach, and youth programs. I partner with the NPS Geologic Resources Division, and I have been working with Mosaics for the last two years. In my spare time, I like to go hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, and camping. I also love to read, knit, and spend time with my family. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions during the internship. I am looking forward to hearing about your project at the career workshop in Colorado.
Welcome to Mosaics! I am Mike Fynn, and I am the VP of Operations at the Greening Youth Foundation. I come to you with a background in engineering, construction, and operations management. I’m excited to work with you all this summer, and hear about your experiences at the different parks. I will get to meet a few of you during the site visits, and again at the career workshop in Colorado. The Mosaics team has some amazing things in store for you this summer, and I can’t wait to hear about your experiences! If you have questions, please feel to reach out to us at any time.
Welcome to the Mosaics in Science Diversity Internship Program! My name is Eboni Preston, and I am a Program Manager with the Greening Youth Foundation (GYF). For the last few years I have worked in nonprofit management, community development, and youth development programs. I, along with GYF, EFTA, and NPS, am very excited to work with all of you this summer. I am thrilled to follow you as you embark on this amazing journey!
Hello Mosaics in Science participants, welcome to the program! We are all looking forward to working with you this summer and to hear about all that you will accomplish in the months to come. My name is Lily Calderón, I am a Chicago native who loves to travel and learn about the world and the birds that live on it. Thanks to EFTA I have been able to experience Oregon and New Mexico through two different internship programs, Celebra Las Aves and Mosaics in Science respectively. Currently I am enjoying Colorado as a full time staff member at EFTA Headquarters in Boulder.
If you are curious about my Mosaics experience, I interned at Capulin Volcano National Monument in northeastern New Mexico during the summer of 2016. As an intern there I worked with the resource team and primarily assisted with the hummingbird research at the park by banding the little hummers. It was a great experience and I hope you all enjoy your experience as much as I did! I can’t wait to meet you all at the workshop in Colorado and to hear about your work.
At Cabrillo National Monument we have a few ambassadors that are typically behind the scenes. Every Thursday this summer at 1:30 pm, our ambassadors get to demonstrate to the public why this preserved and protected land is so significant in our urban San Diego community.
Wildlife Biologist, Ranger Stephanie Root, along with other park biologists represents our snakey co-workers and help communicate to the public on their behalf. All of our snake ambassadors are native to the San Diego Region and have be rescued for various reasons by the San Diego Herpetological Society.
Meet the Team!
Salvador: Northern Three-Lined Boa – Lichanura orcutti (Formerly Coastal Rosy Boa)
He became an ambassador in June 2014 and is approximately 7 years of age. Sal is the most comfortable with visitor interaction. He particularly enjoys hiding in shoes and hooded sweatshirts. A Northern Three-Lined Boa has a lifespan of approximately 20 years.
Agnes: California Kingsnake – Lampropeltis californiae
She became an ambassador in August 2014 and is approximately 17 years of age. Along with being the oldest of the ambassadors, she is also the largest. A California Kingsnake is known to live up to 50 years in captivity.
Summer: Albino California Kingsnake – Lampropeltis californiae
She became an ambassador in August 2014 with Agnes and is approximately 8 years of age. Because of her pigment, her veins can be seen through her scales (especially since she recently shed her skin in these images).
Wilson: San Diego Gopher Snake – Pituophis catenifer annectens
He became an ambassador in February 2017 and is approximately 4 years of age. He is the timidest of the ambassadors, but warms up after a while, particularly with Ranger Adam Taylor. A San Diego Gopher Snake typically lives 12-15 years.
Even though all of our ambassadors are non-venomous, be aware all snakes have the potential to bite and may mistake a finger near their face as a yummy treat. We encourage visitors to gently touch the base of their body with one or two fingers. Remember our ambassadors are key members of the Cabrillo National Monument Staff, and they shall continue to be treated as such.
Seagrass ecosystems are incredibly important foundational ecosystems that provide a variety of ecological and economic services. These ecosystems, and the animals that rely upon them, have been threatened and disrupted by rapid declines and degradation in seagrasses worldwide. Much of the loss can be linked to anthropogenic stressors. Green turtles are the only herbivorous sea turtle species and are the primary consumers of seagrasses worldwide. Green turtle populations have been severely overharvested by humans over the last 200 years and are currently listed as a threatened/endangered species. However, populations are beginning to increase in some areas as a result of long-term conservation efforts. Given the rapid decline in seagrass coverage globally, there is growing concern that the altered ecosystems of today may not be able to sustain grazing by green turtle populations as they did two centuries ago. When an endangered species recovers, what ecological role does it fulfill if its ecosystem has been altered by anthropogenic activities? This is only one of many questions being asked by my mentor, Alexandra Gulick (Graduate Student, Archie Carr Center for Sea Turtle Research, University of Florida). To begin to answer this prodigious question, she must start by investigating the fundamental factors that drive this plant-herbivore interaction. I’m here to help Alexandra execute two of her ecological objectives.
- Evaluate the productivity of naturally grazed and ungrazed seagrass meadows.
- Evaluate the effects of seagrass pasture characteristics on green turtle foraging behavior.
Accomplishing said objectives will then allow her to model the carrying capacity of Caribbean seagrass pastures for recovering green turtle populations.
Buck Island Reef National Monument (BUIS) was established in 1961 under President John F. Kennedy and was later expanded in 2001 under President Bill Clinton. It was the first fully marine protected area in the National Park Service system. The monument includes Buck Island (176 acres) and 18,839 acres of submerged land and coral reef systems. Buck Island is an uninhabited island 1½ miles off the northern coast of St. Croix, and is surrounded by a barrier reef and large expanses of seagrass meadows. Conducting this research at BUIS offers a unique opportunity to study green turtle grazing dynamics and habitat use. Fortunately, the seagrass ecosystem supports both juvenile and adult turtles throughout the year which is uncommon. Also, over the last decade NPS resource managers have documented increases in green turtle nesting and foraging populations. When combined, these factors make BUIS more than ideal for studying green turtle and seagrass interactions. I am thrilled to be a part of this research and partake in sharing it with the world.
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!