When you’re a college student like me, you probably have people behind you cheering you on as you are going through school. Last summer I had an internship at Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky, and I met one of the bat interns, Katie. Even though she was an intern like me, she had been involved in bat conservation previously and really introduced and guided me through learning about bats. She and the other intern, Chris, welcomed me into their bat crew and I got the opportunity to join them on outflight surveys and coordinating Bat Blitz at the park.

Chris setting up for a bat outflight survey facing a rock shelter at Mammoth Cave National Park.

Over the course of the three months, Chris and Katie both taught me their passion for bat conservation and patiently walked me through bat behavior, physiology, and importance. They showed me firsthand how devastating White Nose Syndrome can be. And most importantly, they were even greater friends. They were the ones that kept me awake during long hikes out of sites, supported me with greasy food and ice cream on a hot summer day, and laughed with me about Chris’s cute goats. Katie was often my moral support and after a long week, we would cook together, go on bike rides, and play basketball (badly). Often, there isn’t a single person that makes an impact. It’s the community that is giving and willing to teach you, sometimes about natural systems and other times about yourself. I am so thankful for the whole Science and Resource Management division last year that led me to being here at Lava Beds National Monument. It’s been a wild ride!

Katie safely making it down a muddy slope to River Styx Spring to take water quality samples.

An early Morning at our MAPS (Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship) site near the Green River. As you can see, some birds are being processed for species, weight, age, and other factors.

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