Along with every field researchers, there are people in the office who receive the data collected in the field and put the data to use. Data is interpreted and organized in graphs, tables, and even maps. ArcGIS is commonly used to visually represent data that is collected in the field. This is important for several reasons: One reason is that once data is put onto maps, you can get a visual representation of the area that was surveyed and develop hypotheses as to how it may affect the data that was collected. Another reason is the area that was surveyed can be re-visited in the future. The maps can assure the accuracy of your location once in the field.
Interpretation of data is a very important step of developing proper solutions to environmental issues that are being studied. I took part in ArcGIS training to learn how data is manipulated to be displayed on maps. Along with this training, I also enrolled in classes that taught the importance of the National Park Service and its employees.
I have had the absolute pleasure of spending my week with a group of 13 curious young scientists, their awesome counselors, and the creative Point Reyes Science Adventure program manager. The Point Reyes National Seashore Association, a non-profit associated with the park, annually hosts around 13 high school aged students at the park for the week-long Point Reyes Science Adventure!
We began our adventures with a plant assessment of the Giacomini Wetlands by using 1×1 m quadrats. The Giacomini Wetlands is a special place because it is the site of a successful restoration project that began in 2007. We were out there to help the park collect annual data that will then be processed to analyze the change in the plant species distribution over the course of the past year.
The next day we took the young scientists out into the field to seine fish. Seining is the process of catch and release fishing by using a wide net that is vertically placed into and then stretched across a body of water. We were helping the park’s fish biologist assess the success of the Giacomini Wetland restoration by looking for indicator species, such as the Yellowfin Goby. We sampled three different sites where the students were taught to identify and handle the fish. The third site was a ways into the muddy and breathtaking Giacomini Wetland. For most of the students, this was their first time trudging through this type of ecosystem. If y’all recall from my last week’s post, wetlands and marshes tend to want to swallow boots whole and can make some feel defeated by its tricks. It requires a lot of teamwork, communication, and patience. Given this challenge, the students were in high spirits and were impressed with their own abilities to persevere in the name of science and adventure. It was incredible to watch!
On Friday, the students participated in a state-wide monitoring program called LiMPETS. LiMPETS, Long-term Monitoring Program and Experiential Training for Students, is a program that engages young people in citizen science to monitor the health of the California coasts. A good indicator species for ocean and beach health is the mole crab, also called the sand crab. These are cute little invertebrates that burrow into the sand along the swash zone of the beach. The students set up their stations and cored for mole crabs at 1 m intervals along a 10 m transect.
Once the sand was sieved through, a bunch of mole crabs would appear! The students recorded the gender and carapace length of the mole crab. All of this data was then inputted into the online LiMPET database that is then used to assess California coastal health. This was an incredibly rewarding experience because, by inputting the data online and creating graphs, the students were able to instantly see the impact they were having on such an important health assessment.
Fortunately, my week with these folks is not over, and tomorrow I will be going back out with them into Lagunitas Creek to record its bathymetry!
Have you ever seen a bee up close? What if I told you that I was able to take a detailed picture of one. Thanks to my handy iPhone I am able to show all of you the characteristics you can’t see with a naked eye. Shown below is an up close up view of a bee and its wing. In order to identify a bee, characteristics must be examined under the microscope and an identification guide is used to match descriptions explained in the book. It becomes a tedious process as the descriptions become more specific and the list of possible species narrows down.
Besides my role in identifying bees this summer, I have been tasked to do a presentation on citizen science programs that visitors can get involved with for a entomology workshop on Saturday. Anyone can be citizen scientist and people like you are needed to collect data to further help researchers understand what is happening to animal populations. There are a lot of opportunities to get involved with projects and I encourage you spread the word about it. The workshop that we are in doing is to teach educators about entomology, but also encourage them to incorporate the resources we give them into their school curriculum for their students. We hope that students grow to appreciate insects for what they do for our environment.
“Consider the sea turtle when you boat where they feed;
injuries can be avoided if we just reduce our speed.
Consider the sea turtle when you’re at the beach;
trash, holes and castles make the sea hard to reach.
Consider the sea turtle when installing outdoor lights;
they misguide hatchlings when they are high and bright.
Consider the sea turtle when you shop at the store;
plastic bags are deadly when they float beyond our shore.
Consider the sea turtle when you spend the day fishing;
lines, hooks and nets can prevent them from swimming.
Consider the sea turtle when using balloons;
if they land in the water they cause certain doom.
Consider the sea turtle when you want to fertilize;
runoff from rain will cause bad algae to rise.
Consider the sea turtle and work together;
because our actions can impact sea turtles forever.”
When my friend Ashley shared this poem with me all I could do was smile. I love how it addresses major issues in a simple, understanding way. This poem is a great example of how we can inform the public and get them interested enough to pay attention to these topics. With minimal effort on our part, we can have BIG impacts on our surroundings.
If you want to be precise and/or accurate you need to test, evaluate results, improve, and test again until you are satisfied with the outcome. This is basically what I have been doing the past two weeks. I had been developing a harness for a microGPS unit which will be attached to tortoises. Concurrently to the radio tracking, the GPS project will also study the Texas tortoises (Gopherus berlandieri) of the Palo Alto Battlefield National Historical Park (PAAL). The radio tracking project gives us a once-a-month snapshot of the activities and location of the tracked tortoises. The microGPS will record 5 locations per day at specific times; 7am, 11am, 1pm, 4pm, and 7pm. This increases the temporal information for the selected tortoise.
I started creating the prototypes using play-doh. After I created the desired shape, I realized that it weighed too much and would not work for our small tortoises. (If you missed my other blog posts, the Texas tortoises are the smallest tortoise species in the United States.) Using aluminum foil as the base and the play-doh to protect the microGPS prongs, the envisioned harness prototype was created. Nevertheless, play-doh and aluminum foil are unfit for the desert environment, so I had to upgrade my materials. Ten models later, using aluminum sheet and epoxy the harness was created.
Simultaneously to the development of the harness, we were also testing the accuracy of the GPS. On the first test, we mimicked different environments that the tortoise can be found: open area, under coarse vegetation, and inside of a woodrat midden. Unfortunately our results were very disappointing. After contacting the technical support and changing microGPS settings we got better outcomes. Next week, 2 microGPS units will be deplyed in Brownsville for some field test.
Stay tuned, the next blog post will be about the June field trip to Palo Alto Battlefield National Historical Park.
There’s something about the National Park Service emblem and logo that just immediately allows people to trust whoever is wearing it. That’s what I think I’ve gathered most so far during this internship.
The Division of Resource Management and Science provides the expertise and sustainable management of Yosemite’s natural resources using science-based decision-making. Working as an intern for the Wildlife Management branch under this division, I get to act as eyes and ears for the park’s wildlife. Because of this, we rarely encounter or plan to interact with the public. However, that does not mean we don’t come across people while tracking turtles in the Valley of Yosemite, or pass people while hiking to a site.
I am fortunate and glad I have not experienced an emergency situation with a park visitor, as most of my interactions have been highly positive and educational! Every day has been different and my past front-country tour proved it! Here are some stories of experiences with the public (and actual animals) from my most recent tour and previous tours.
- An Aquatics crew employee and I were on private residence near Sierra National Forest land, placing traps in a pond to assist a phD study on Western pond turtles. As we were leaving the site, four hunting dogs came walking up to us, each wearing a GPS collar. They all looked thin and tired, though were very nice with us. Their owner was nowhere in site, as we waited for some sign of someone being out in the area. After calling the numbers on the dogs’ collars and receiving no answers, we decided to call the local sheriff’s office to have a deputy come take the dogs to animal control so their owner could be notified that their dogs were found. When speaking with the deputy, he thanked us for taking responsibility of the dogs and helping out.
- During off time, we took a break at the local fairgrounds where we would be camping for the duration of a tour. As we parked the park vehicle at our site, people immediately non-stop approached us to ask questions about the park, the fairgrounds, service, closest gas station, anything! At one point, someone wanted us to help them with the transmission of their RV! Even though we could not answer many of the questions as we were in an area we were not acquainted with, we helped out as much as we could.
- While walking through Yosemite Valley wearing headphones, carrying a receiver and antenna, people often come up and ask what we’re tracking. Once we’ve assured them that we are tracking turtles and not bears, their muscles relax and are at ease again knowing that a bear is not in the vicinity. On multiple occasions, people actually know about the reintroduction of the Western pond turtle to the park, which is exciting!
When people think about the National Park Service, they think of park rangers with the wide-brimmed hat in full uniform. I originally thought that too! Now, I think of all the important people and groups that work to create great experiences with our National Parks. This includes the park rangers, biologists, operators, retailers, bus drivers, scientists, interpreters, custodial, managers, receptionists, trail keepers, everyone! Though we all don’t have the park ranger uniform, we still all carry that same arrowhead emblem. We’re doing just as much work for people as we are for the actual job descriptions. I never would have thought that I would be helping return lost dogs, teaching people about the history of the herpetofauna in Yosemite, or showing someone on a map the closest gas station. Every day is different and that’s what makes this internship and working with the National Park Service so amazing. People really love the Park Service.
Weather in the desert is wild, so wild that you can see snow in June! A few days ago, I woke up to snowfall outside my window and all across the entire park. I couldn’t believe that only a week ago I was complaining about the dry desert heat. Some of you might be unimpressed by snow no matter the season but to put my excitement in context, both Virginia (where I go to school) and Guam (where I grew up) have very little to absolutely no snow. So this surprise snowfall was especially impressive for me!
Its the most wonderful time of the year – June! . . . Photo Credit: Ranger Jillian at the Big Nasty Trail today . . . ⛄⛄⛄ . . . #lavabedsnationalmonument #findyourpark #ilovelavabeds #nature #summersnow
A post shared by Lava Beds National Monument (@lavabedsnps) on
Inspired by the wild weather, a couple of other interns and I decided to go venture out and explore some caves. After crawling to the end of Valentine Cave, we turned off our lights and lied down on the cave floor in absolute darkness. At first, the dark and confined space is creepy but somehow in the quiet shadows I found myself feeling calm and almost on the brink of sleep. Even though I had already been inside a cave during my first week here at Lava Beds, I never paused to appreciate the solitude you can find within caves, solitude that is simultaneously eerie and relaxing.
After Valentine Cave, we set our sights on Golden Dome Cave, which is named after the glittering bacterial colonies that resemble golden dust and line the cave’s vast walls and ceilings. The bacteria are hydrophobic so water gathers as beads on top of them and the bacteria appear shiny. Before arriving at Lava Beds, I assumed caves were only colored in shades of gray and brown. Golden hues were the last thing on my mind but as I’ve learned, Lava Beds is full of surprises!
Take thirty seconds to look at this picture and tell me: What do you see? What do you think is happening? Describe how the environment is/feels? Students take a second to observe the picture. I think to myself how is this activity going to play out with the kids. This is my first time really working with such a large group of young kids, and I have no idea the level of interaction we will get. “If there is no participation then what? Kids don’t really feel the need to speak when it is awkward.” But just like that I saw many hands go up. I was so impressed by the amount of enthusiasm I saw in these kids faces. They really wanted to share their opinion, their views.
This week we welcomed a few new education team members. Throughout their training and familiarization, we went over visual learning and how we will be using it on a program on Friday. I was a little skeptical on how this new learning tool would work with fourth graders. I couldn’t really see how kids would interact with the activity. However, when I saw it in action I truly understood the power of allowing kids to discover the answers by themselves, like detectives. I also believe I underestimated these kids. Some of the questions and poems they came up with at the end of their activity, were incredible. The more experience I gain, it really reinforces my drive to fully commit to the educational field
Standing tall as one of nation’s most prominant symbols, is the bald eagle. While this bird has been delisted as an endangered species, it is still in a federal monitoring stage. Here at the Cuyahoga Valley National Park visitors and employees who have been around for atleast the past ten years have gotten a chance to see these beautiful creatures in person. Since 2007 a pair of bald eagles have lived here in the Northern end of the park. Since that time they have produced 14 eaglets. In February of this year the eggs of the 13th and 14th ones were layed, and by late march they were hatched. Since around the time of the eggs being layed this section of the park has been closed off to visitors, to give the parenting eagles and newborns a less stressful environment.
This past week I was able to acompany my ranger to this closed off section to try and view the young eagles, and see if they were now flying well enough for us to be able to open the section back up. Although we didn’t see all four of the eagles we were fortunate enough to see what we believe was the adult male eagle, and a young one. We were able to see it fly and judge that it would be safe to open the section back up so visitors could come in for a personal look! These birds are beautiful to see and its an incredibly opportunity to have.
After 3.5 weeks spent doing in-office research, which has consisted of a lot of statistics, softwares, ARDs, SOPs, and reading through lots of User Manuals I finally got the opportunity to do a couple hours of field work this past week! I got to deploy an SM3 Automated Recording Devices in a couple different spots near some sloughs in Everglades National Park. It was nice getting to go out! Just a bit of advice though; it you ever feel inclined to go exploring the Everglades in the middle of June beware of the most vicious residents of the Everglades. Mosquitoes!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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!