20 Nov Biology and Science Communication Assistant
American peregrine falcons on Alaska’s Yukon River in Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve (YUCH) have been studied for over 40 years. They are included in the preserve’s enabling legislation, the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (1980). Our research has tracked their recovery from the devastating effects of the pesticide DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane). It caused peregrine falcon eggshells to thin in the 1960s. Many chicks did not survive, and the number of falcons decreased dangerously. In 1970, peregrines were classified as endangered and were protected under the Endangered Species Conservation Act. The United States banned the use of DDT in 1972. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and National Park Service (NPS) intervened to help populations recover. After banning DDT in the U.S., they cooperated and tracked the recovery of peregrines across North America. Today, recent research shows Yukon River peregrines have rebounded and are thriving, demonstrating the importance of long-term monitoring and collaboration. The peregrine’s recovery in the U.S. is a shining conservation success story. But, threats such as climate change and global contaminants still face the species. Continued monitoring is needed to track the status of this iconic species. We do this through collaborations. The Central Alaska Monitoring Network (CAKN) manages several long-term monitoring efforts across various parklands, including peregrine surveys in YUCH. The biology/science communication intern would assist on various fieldwork projects and science communication highlighting the recovery of YUCH peregrines. Fieldwork may include Breeding Bird surveys (YUCH), peregrine falcon surveys (YUCH), small mammal surveys (Denali National Park and Preserve). Along with fieldwork, the intern will be trained in science communication skills. Since 2013, NPS has partnered with many education partners and rural schools to teach video storytelling and production to youth. Microgrants from partners funded five previous workshops hosted at local and village schools, resulting in 20 youth-produced films on park conservation stories. Many youths are of Alaska Native heritage, have deep connections to the land, and live in gateway communities near remote parklands. The disciplines of video production and storytelling are burgeoning career fields that provide career opportunities for youth in remote Alaskan communities. Through these experiences, interns have learned: production and editing, photography, descriptive and creative writing, public speaking, interviewing, presenting, and storytelling. We hope to transform the intern into a budding conservation steward and compelling storyteller. These experiences will equip the intern with tools to conduct science, capture experiences, tell tales and inspire others through captivating videos, and learn about NPS careers.