2019 Highlights

Estefanía Vicens 

Southeast Arizona Group, AZ 

Geomorphology Assistant

Estefanía worked on the Unstable Slope Management Program (USMP) in the National Park Service’s Southeast Arizona Group (SEAZ). Throughout the majority of the year the is arid, but during rainy seasons the parks experience intense rainfall over a short period, creating an increase in surface runoff and leading to geological hazards. Estefanía identified, categorized and rated unstable slopes along the trails and roads of Chiricahua National Monument using the Unstable Slope Management Program (USMP) rating criteria. The work Estefanía completed over the summer helps to reduce risk and deterioration of infrastructure in the park. 

Ansley Watkins 

Indiana Dunes National Park, IN 

Biology Assistant, DHA

Ansley assisted in developing best management practices and other pollinator education materials for Great Lakes park units and collecting updated data on native bee diversity and abundance at Indiana Dunes National Park. The maps and other visitor resources Ansley completed show areas of priority for pollinators, including which habitats to conserve and explanations of different factors such as bee species, habitat type and county within the Great Lakes Basin. The project, which is part of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, is an effort to better understand the native pollinator community at Indiana Dunes. Ansley also organized a citizen science “Bee Blitz” activity to assist U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service efforts for locating populations of the endangered rusty patched bumblebee. The activity and resources created by Ansley help to educate the public on how native bees benefit the surrounding ecosystem and how they can support native pollinators. 

Xavier Rivera 

Capulin Volcano National Monument , NM 

Biology Assistant

Xavier’s main focuses at Capulin Volcano National Monument were hummingbird banding, plant and pollen identification, restoration techniques and greenhouse management. He helped to prepare about 4,000 trays of native grass sod, which were cultivated in a specific growing area using reclaimed water from his living area before being planted in desired areas around the volcano. His work aided in providing more native plants for native pollinators in the area. In addition to helping provide plants native pollinators need, he was able to learn about hummingbird banding station protocol and collect data while learning to band hummingbirds. The research Xavier completed will be used to study the changing phenology of hummingbirds and flora in the face of climate change. 

Cory Zaller-Edmonds 

Mount Rainier National Park, WA 

Biology Assistant, DHA

Cory worked as a key member of the Mount Rainier wildlife crew to support the bat monitoring and white-nose syndrome (WNS) surveillance program. He completed field-based surveys for bats by conducting emergence counts at bat colonies, assisting with bat captures to screen for WNS, and using acoustic detectors to process bat calls. Cory also established a research project in collaboration with Oregon State University evaluating bat guano as a tool for surveillance and early detection of the pathogen that causes WNS in order to prevent the disease. His research helps future scientists to better understand WNS and protect bat populations. Aside from bat research, Cory also partook in bird banding and data collection for avian population surveys. 

Brittany Tominez 

War in the Pacific National Historical Park, Guam 

Natural Resource Interpretive Assistant

This past summer, Brittany’s projects were focused on scientific approaches and technologies for monitoring and managing coral reef, snorkeling surveys for the threat of coral bleaching, and assisting park staff with the planning and implementation of youth activities and general environmental outreach education programming at the War in the Pacific National Historical Park in Guam. Several of the coral reefs are under serious threats caused by marine environmental changes and stressful historical events from the past. Brittany supported Reef Ranger activities by training high school and college youth volunteers to do snorkeling surveys toward increasing their knowledge of coral bleaching, reef organism abundance, and the frequency of giant clams’ health using monitoring equipment. The work Brittany completed this summer played a vital role in monitoring overall coral health and growth within the park, which is home to the highest diversity of marine species among other national parks. 

Patricia Alquiza 

Biscayne National Park, FL 

Natural Resource Management Assistant, DHA

Patricia spent this summer completing an in-depth analysis of Biscayne’s reef-fish data that spans from 1999 to 2018. Her work examined the spatial and temporal trends in fish populations within the park using a pre-established database and the R software program. Patricia analyzed data for 10 fish family groups with a total of 62 individual species, and managed an extensive data system with protocols. She also created a how-to guide to ensure that future years’ analyses can continue uninterrupted. 

Hannah Gershone 

Saguaro National Park, Tuscan, AZ 

Acoustic (Natural Sounds) Assistant

Hannah’s work was mainly centered on monitoring Mexican Spotted Owls (MSO) at the Saguaro National Park in the Rincon Mountains. Her role with acoustic monitoring was especially instrumental in learning more about changes to the MSO population and presence within the park as well as noticing any changes to Saguaro’s soundscape. Through the use of modified MP3 players, Hannah collected data, recorded, and analyzed the call frequencies of the owls. The work that Hannah completed over the course of the summer helped to obtain a better understanding of where the owls are moving within their protected areas and if they are showing up in new locations. 

Christian Knutson 

Northern Great Plains Inventory & Monitoring Program / Badlands National Park, SD 

Biology Assistant 

Christian worked to understand the changing patterns in the timing of events in the prairie plants of Badlands National Park. He laid the foundation for a robust citizen science project focused on prairie phenology, and told the local history of the natives that inhabited the land. His interpretive wildflower walk took visitors on popular trails, and introduced them to native flowers and their traditional uses. He also assisted vegetation, archaeology, wildlife, and geology crews with data collection and interpretation. The work that Christian did showcased the natural resources at the park while memorializing the local history and narratives of Native American communities.