Thursday, 01 August 2019 07:33

Ten Weeks Have Passed: Un resumen de Mi Verano.

Ten weeks have passed. Time flies and I can’t believe my stay at Point Reyes National Seashore has ended. I had an incredible time and the summer of 2019 is now the best summer I have ever had.

Ten weeks have passed. The field surveys alongside the park’s biologists have given a complete new perspective on what lies ahead after I am done completing my wildlife degree this upcoming year. Seeing spotted owls, snowy plovers, capturing steelhead fish, and getting to see distinct aspects of elk research have been life changing and inspiring experiences. The biologists were very helpful and each one shared insightful words that I will take with me.

Ten weeks have passed. Latino Conservation Week was very special because I had the opportunity to share my passion for nature with amazing people. First the event at the Richardson Bay Audubon Center and Sanctuary allowed families to dance, play, and to learn about our natural environment while building a sense of joy and togetherness. My “We’ll Explore the First Mile” hike gave me the opportunity to expose people to the natural beauty of Point Reyes National Seashore and I got to experience what it’s like to plan, and lead an event. I had an amazing group of people, the hike was fun, lengthy and I received important feedback from my supervisor.

Ten weeks have passed. Blue Ranch, the place where I lived in point Reyes National Seashore. Blue Ranch is a beautiful place where the sun, its sunsets, the ocean, the fog, and wildlife gathered to make me feel right at home. After living in urbanized settings for most of life I tend to forget that places as peaceful as Blue Ranch exist. Blue Ranch is one of those places that you think of when you hear the opening lines of In My Life.

Ten weeks have passed. Point Reyes National Seashore is more than a seashore and more than a lighthouse. I had so much fun exploring the forests, wetlands, beaches, ridges, sand dunes, and grasslands. My program’s coordinator and her daughter said it best when they visited, “it feels like we’re in a different day,” a comment they made as we travelled from the valley to Chimney Rock. Please visit Point Reyes National Seashore, it’s beautiful.

Ten weeks have passed. The wildlife at Point Reyes. The wildlife at Point Reyes. Wow. Birds, mammals, fish, intertidal invertebrates. Wow. I shake my head at the thought of every animal that I got to see. Some the highlights included spotted owls (obviously), snowy plovers (for my Humboldt heart), black oystercatchers, a kildeer, bat stars, elephant seals, ospreys, a white-tailed kite, river otters feeding on a brown pelican, coyotes howling outside Blue Ranch, a salamander, two long-tailed weasels. Wow. I will be coming to spot those that hid during my ten weeks, I’m looking at you bobcats, “common redpoll”, and whales. I never took the wildlife that surrounded me for granted.

Ten weeks have passed. How about my experiences with the public. As an introvert I thought it was going to be challenging to talk to visitors. It was not difficult and maybe I am not an introvert after all. There were a few times where my voice was done. I talked to a lot of visitors specially during the last few weeks. Talking to people at the visitor center could be repetitive, but I learned to embrace it. I had a lot awesome interactions with the public (especially when we talked about the wildlife). My experience with the public gave my public speaking skills, a much needed boost of confidence.

Ten weeks have passed. The division of interpretation of Point Reyes National Seashore is full of amazing rockstars. Every member of the staff is very flexible, kind, knowledgeable, patient, gifted and everything in between. I feel so lucky I was able to work each and everyday with this amazing group of beautiful of people. My last few days were very nostalgic, it was painful saying goodbye to each member of the division. I still do not know how I managed to avoid crying during each goodbye. I cried after, I will tell you that and I am crying now. Tears of joy. Interp staff, los admiro y los quiero mucho. *(I forgot someone in my last blog To May: Thank you for your kindness, the laughter and good spirits).

Ten weeks have passed. Latino Heritage Internship Program (LHIP) is an incredible program. I have no words to express my gratitude for everything this internship has provided me. From personal to professional growth, to an introduction to amazing people that work for the National Park Service. For allowing me to meet other people who share my passion for nature, those with my background and much more. This is an excellent program and I got to meet people (LHIP alumni) who are living proof of its potential success. I hope the program continues going forward because there are a lot of amazing individuals who have much to offer to the National Park Service and society as whole. 

Ten week have passed. To everyone: work hard, be kind, dream big, believe in yourself, take care of each other, take care of yourself, learn from each other, be proud of who you are, take care of your natural environment, take care of the wildlife, be persistent, smile, cry, and smile again. I believe in you.

Thank you for joining me. I appreciate your time. Los quiero mucho. 

Special thank you to Lupe, Rulas y Rooney (my family), powerful Ranger Arreglo, Dalia Dorta. Gracias por creer en mi.

Kevin García López

“You belong somewhere you feel free.”

Published in EFTA intern blog
Wednesday, 31 July 2019 19:54

Something Special: Meaningful Connections

One of the biggest things about the internship has been the exposure to wonderful people. My experience at Point Reyes National Seashore would not have been as incredible if it wasn’t for everyone I had the pleasure to meet and work with. The following individuals deserve all the recognition and gratitude:

Ranger Carlo Arreglo (my supervisor): As well-rounded as it gets and then some. He is a textbook birder who loves to share “classic" bird identification characteristics with anyone within the vicinity. He’s by far one of the kindest persons I have met—there’s not a single grain of saltiness in him. Everyone will agree with me that after you have a conversation with him, you leave with a bag full of knowledge and a smile.

As a supervisor Ranger Arreglo has given a virtuoso performance. He provided me with amazing wildlife opportunities alongside Point Reyes National Seashore biologists and these experiences have molded my views about my career. He always provided constructive feedback after my performances and events; truly something I respected and needed. This internship did not have a single low point (because of Carlo). Instead, it was full of highlights, challenges, laughter, knowledge, and confidence building opportunities that helped me develop as a person and as an aspiring biologist. Carlo is an exceptional person, and as my mom says “es un ejemplo a saguir”.  Thank you for this opportunity, for the laughter, the experiences, and the memories. 

Diego Morales: is a Mosaics in Science intern that has worked with me this entire summer. It has been a pleasure to work along with him and this experience shows how much people can accomplish when they work together. Although he insists he’s not a passionate fan of animals, he had a great time coming out with the ecologists during field days along with me and never complained. I must thank him for his support and for his amazing photo coverage during all the events we were involved with. We worked together for ten weeks, but it only took a few days to realize Diego is an awesome coworker. Now ten weeks into the internship he has become my “colega,” a true friend, and someone I identify as my brother. He’s a total professional and will excel anywhere he ends up. Thank you Diego.

There is always a concern about including the names of people in blogs or social media, but I think it’s important to recognize the people who work hard. It’s important to recognize the people who inspire others. Recognizing these individuals is not done enough in our society for this I would like to include the name of the amazing members of the Division of Interpretation of Point Reyes National Seashore:

John Golda: Thank you for believing in the Latino Heritage Internship Program, for your insightful words, and humor.

Dough Hee: Thank you for inspiring me with your work ethic and professionalism.

Anela Kopshever: Thank you for your awesome energy, it’s inspiring.

Marybeth Shenton: Thank you for all the support you have given me, you’re a professional—it has been an honor.

Chris Lish: Thank you for all your dedication and for all your patience.

Fiona O’kelly: Thank you for all your support and kindness. It means a lot.

Pascal Sisich: Thank you for all the laughter and support.

Rebecca Hartman: Thank you for being an awesome colleague.

Marie Wright: Thank you for always providing enrichment opportunities, kindness and support. Electrofishing changed my perspective about fish biology.

 

Thank you for all the excellent work that you for the National Park Service and for Point Reyes National Seashore. 

 

Muchas gracias a todos. Nos vemos pronto.

 

Published in EFTA intern blog

Here’s an overview of a few projects that I have been involved in during the last few weeks:

My first program: Mammals, Binoculars and Birding

Point Bonita YMCA organized a visit to Point Reyes National Seashore to bring out kindergarten campers for a short hike and for a few activities. This was a perfect opportunity to plan my first program since children can be a fun and challenging audience. I knew I had to be very creative to ensure that their attention was fully grasped through the activities, so I thought tactile park props such as skulls and skins of animals would be great learning tools to engage them. I recently took a mammalogy class where I learned how to identify mammals by using skull characteristics, so this was a great way to share cool details about mammals and spark their attention early on. I also planned an introduction to binoculars program to teach the children how to use binoculars to encourage them to look at the birds in the park. I prepared for the event as if I was going to give a presentation to my classmates in one of my wildlife classes (I had a thorough outline that I reviewed probably more than I needed to).

After setting up the mammalogy table and the binoculars for the children I waited for the scheduled hour (11:00 am) and anxiously waited for the sound of a school bus. The bus finally arrived and the children made their way into the picnic area across the visitor center where we were set up. It was a group of 24 children, full of energy and ready to learn (but mostly play). By the time they approached the table, the outline for the activities had to be improvised and without an introduction the children had their attention and hands on the animal skulls and skins.  They asked questions left and right, “What animal is this?” “does this jaw belong to this”, “this is so soft (gray fox skin)”. By the time I answered a question, they were already focusing on the next skull or skin. After fifteen minutes of mammalogy madness the group was divided into two: one followed my colleague Diego for an earthquake program at the Earthquake Trail and the other followed me for the binoculars and birding introduction. I passed the binoculars out, gave a quick lesson on how to handle and properly use them and now we were ready to look at birds and other animals in the area. The children spent most of their time looking at ravens, a few Brewer’s blackbirds, at each other and at me. A few children needed additional help on how to focus the binoculars, others managed to untie the straps, but in spite of that they had a great time. I learned quite a bit from this: outlines may be necessary but as a presenter you have to improvise. Children are full of energy, their attention span is very short, but they’re a joy to work with. The intent of the binoculars program was to plant the explorer seed into the children and inspire them to enjoy, study and respect the natural wildlife that shares a space with them. I was very fortunate since a few were fully focused on determining what bird they were looking at by comparing to bird guide chart. The YMCA organizers decided to plan another visit on the 31st of July and you can be certain that I will be making another outline.

Image 1: Point Bonita YMCA campers learning how to bird. Photo taken by Ranger Arreglo.

What is electrofishing?

Sounds like fun. Electrofishing is a fish survey technique performed in creeks to capture, identify, measure the length, and mass of fish. It is done by setting up a pool in a creek by placing nets in two ends of the creek with the use of rocks and sticks to sustain the nets. This method, maintains the fish in a pool that is roughly 5 meters in length. After the pool is set up, a member of the crew puts-on a ghostbusters-like backpack mixed with a metal detector used to shock and stun the fish for a quick second (the voltage is only strong enough to stun them). Two additional members follow the individual with the backpack with nets. They wait for the a fish to be stunned and when a fish is finally stunned they capture it with a net and then pass it to another member that places the fish on buckets distributed along the creek. Each survey lasts about 10 minutes and the area is covered about three times. After the survey is done, the members then record the data of each fish that was captured and release them after that’s completed. The organisms that are studied include steelheads (Oncorhynchus mykiss), sculpins (Cottoidea), lampreys (Entosphenus tridentatus) and salamanders.

This was an awesome experience because we had to hike into the sites in forested terrains and and we eventually walked in the creek (we wore waders of course, which was a another first for me) while carrying all the equipment. Once we set the nets at the survey location I was first assigned to collect and place the captured fish into the buckets and then write the data. After we finished collecting the data of the first site, I had the role of capturing the fish alongside Brentley McNeill, the fisheries biologist who operated the “ghostbuster device”. Immediately after shocking a fish, Brentley yells out “Fish On!” and that is the signal for the catchers to capture the fish. The interesting part about the process is that even when the fishes (different species) are stunned, they are still difficult to capture. Teresa Urrutia was the other member of the fisheries crew who captures the fish (also performs the measurements) and she certainly had the quickness and skill to capture them. She was an expert. After a few failed attempts, I gained enough skill to capture fish. I was so thrilled because I always want to be as resourceful as possible when I am invited to perform surveys with the ecologists and as an aspiring biologist I know the effort it takes to perform a survey, and the importance of collecting data. We performed a survey in four different locations and we walked entirely on the creek that was thigh-deep at times. I had so much fun walking through the creek as I avoided the stinging nettle and poison oak that hanged over the creek. Unfortunately, I rubbed my elbow in stinging nettle because I decided not wear my LHIP long-sleeve shirt. Great move. The stinging is not too painful, the feeling is similar to the feeling that occurs when your leg falls asleep, but I am extremely fortunate it was only stinging nettle instead of poison oak.

This experience gave me a different perspective on fish biology. I find all animals interesting, but fish are definitely at the bottom end of my list. Through this study however, I learned that performing fish surveys is an enjoyable experience. Now I am thinking of enrolling in an Ichthyology (study of fish) class at Humboldt State and I am also open to work with fish in the future.

 

Image 2: Kevin (left) recording the mass, length and ID of a sculpin. Teresa (right) measuring the sculpin. Photo taken by Diego Morales.

 Tule Elk with Dane y Consejos Muy Valiosos

All the experiences I had so far as an intern in Point Reyes National Seashore have been extremely helpful. I have gained valuable field experience during the wildlife surveys, I have gained a lot of confidence in public speaking by working in the visitor center where I interact with the public and I have had the opportunity to organize a few programs as well. And of course, I have met a lot of wonderful people.

My awesome supervisor, once again set up another amazing opportunity to meet and perform a general survey with the Tule Elk ecologist Dane Horowski. My project for Latino Conservation Week was to organize an interpretive hike to expose the public to the endemic Tule Elk and Dane shared a lot of important and helpful information about the elk in the park. Dane spoke to me about their reproductive behavior, their biology and about their local history. The site that we visited was very interesting because the bulls (males) were already bugling and some were already seen with their herd of females. This means that rutting season begins earlier for this set of elk compared to the elk located in the Tule Elk Reserve. I heard the elk bugle and wow, I was amazed. You should pause, search in the interwebs “bull elk bugle” and comeback right after. Then you will know how shocking it is to hear these large ungulates during the rut.

Hearing the elk bugle was already a highlight, but Dane shared his experience as a wildlife biologist; from his college years to the immense number of positions and animals he has worked with (mountain lions, bears, turtles, ferrets, turkey, elk, wolves, small mammals). Dane is as game as it gets for wildlife biologists. I was so impressed by all the studies he has performed and I’m never going to forget how passionate he is about his experiences. It’s not easy becoming a wildlife biologist, it’s difficult to find a permanent position (especially with the park service), and you have to be willing to make a lot of sacrifices to gain experience and move forward. It’s a challenge and it was overwhelming to hear how much he has traveled. He was honest about the difficulties of the field, but at the same time he was very encouraging. His advice was so insightful, motivating and gave me a wider perspective of the entire picture. Thank you Dane.

It has become a tradition now. Special thank you to the Point Bonita YMCA, Brentley McNeill and Teresa Urrutia and Dane Horowski. It has been a honor. 

Cuidense mucho. No vemos pronto.

Published in EFTA intern blog
Wednesday, 03 July 2019 03:06

El Búho Moteado (Strix occidentalis caurina)

Point Reyes National Seashore houses an incredible amount of wildlife diversity that includes elephant seals, the endemic Tule elks, and black oystercatchers to name a few (I wish I could list all the animals I have seen, but I'll be kind to the readers). If you have a particular animal you have been looking forward to seeing and adding to your list, Point Reyes will likely offer the opportunity to spot it. Luckily for me, one of my favorite groups of animals is well represented in the area, these fall under the order Strigiformes; the owls (from Barn Owls to Northern Saw-whet owls). I have come to appreciate all species of birds specially over the last few years, but I have a soft-spot for owls (it could be because of their morphology and behavior, their hooting and a few personal experiences doing releases). 

Biologists at the park conduct a wide variety of studies and one of the most intriguing is the Northern Spotted Owl study. This owl is currently recognized as a threatened species mainly because of the increasing numbers of barred owls that have expanded their territories to the Northwest where they outcompete the spotted owls. During my interview for this position, Ranger Arreglo mentioned that the internship provides an opportunity to join a biologist to perform an owl survey and of course I was very excited.

After a couple of weeks into the internship, the schedules finally lined-up to join Taylor Ellis the park's wildlife technician. I was warned by my supervisor that the survey would likely occur in highly vegetated areas covered with poison oak and stinging nettle (the perks of hiking off-trail), so I thought I had to bubble wrap myself to make it out of the hike rash-free. After a quick drive to an undisclosed location we grabbed our backpacks and entered a wild trail to search for owls that had not been observed during this years survey. For a second the trail was clear, but that changed quickly. I found myself dodging branches, tripping on fallen trees, scanning for poison oak and making sure I kept up with Taylor who is a master of the terrain. One of the surveying methods to find owls is to play recorded calls of both males and females. This can either attract them to the area or can also force them to respond to the calls. The latter happened. After playing the recorded call we heard a response and Taylor quickly pointed out the location and we continued the hike towards that area. The terrain did not get any easier, we descended and ascended hills with overpopulated communities of plants and we eventually crossed and walked along a creek of water. We continued playing the recording and Taylor pointed out a few key sightings that indicate the presence of owls--large amounts of wash-up (bird defecation) left on trees and on plants. Taylor played the recording once more and we waited. I had been part of an owl survey done at night during my wildlife techniques class trip this last spring and we did not spot a single owl. The interesting part of the owl survey with Taylor, it happened during the day. I tried to prepare myself to avoid any disappointment if we did not spot a single owl.

It finally happened, a Northern Spotted Owl (female) flew and perched on a tree about 4 meters above us. It was not shy at all (which surprised me). It remained on the tree as it assessed the situation, at this point I was losing it. Here I was in front of a threatened species, one of my favorite animals and not during the night (owl in the day). I contained myself for the most part, but to say that I was excited is an understatement. A few minutes later, Taylor encountered another owl (a male) just a few meters away, at this point I thought this was my favorite wildlife experience I ever had. Taylor went on to collect the data: recording of the location, individuals observed and most importantly if there was a nest that belonged to the pair (but we did not find one). The protocol of Northern Spotted Owls surveys includes a procedure called mousing in which a live mouse is offered (placed on a branch) and this can help determine whether there is a nest in the area if the owl takes it back to its nest. If I thought I had seen it all, I was mistaken. Taylor placed a rodent on a branch and shortly after, I was able to witness how owls capture and consume their prey. This was an amazing experience. Later that day we hiked into another location where a nest had been observed and of course we were once again fortunate to see another pair of owls and their chick on the nest. Again, what an incredible experience.

People often remember a defining moment that inspired to them to pursue their career. I always think about trips to the zoo and my camping trips at Yosemite; these moments have definitely channeled me into the world of natural sciences. Now that I have had a bit of time to reflect on everything that I was able to experience during the survey--this has become one of the moments I am referring to. This owl survey has had a monumental impact on me. It has inspired so much to continue working hard to complete my wildlife and vertebrate ecology degree and to continue my education after that. This experience, like the snowy plover survey has helped me confirm that I want to perform field biology. Seeing the owl a few meters away from me left me speechless, it was a life changing experience that I will never forget.

Once again, I will end up the blog with a big thank you to some amazing people. Thank you to Taylor Ellis for allowing me to join his owl survey, you have inspired me so much. Thank you to my supervisor Ranger Arreglo for arranging all these opportunities, I can't thank you enough. Thank you to my colega, Mosaics intern Diego Morales for joining me on all these unexpected adventures, I'm happy I have shared these moments with you. Thank you to Jenn and the amazing staff at CWC for inspiring me to work with wildlife. A final thank you to my Humboldt family and future wildlife biologists Janett and Olivia (and everyone else), your support makes a difference.

¡Gracias colegas!

Published in EFTA intern blog
Friday, 28 June 2019 20:12

Lupe

I will keep this one very short because I can write an entire book about this special individual. Maria Guadalupe Lopez Arroyo is certainly the most influential person in my life and there's no chance I would be at this stage of my life without her countless of lessons and sacrifices. She was very strict and that was always difficult for me to understand through my entire childhood. Now that I have seen the results of her parenting methods I fully understand why she was so tough on me. Family members and close friends often criticized her as well for being the tough figure that she was, but it did not matter to her--she had a reason and that was to ensure I pursued and accomplished my educational goals.

All the positive qualities I have are a reflection of her qualities. I can not thank her enough for teaching me to be a kind, respectful, and goal driven individual. I am very lucky for having the opportunity to call her mom (although I call her Lupe to get on her nerves sometimes) and for this reason I try to make sure she hears how fortunate and thankful I am. I suggest you share how much the special individuals in your life mean to you, they deserve it.

Muchas gracias Lupe, te quiero mucho mamá.

Published in EFTA intern blog
Saturday, 15 June 2019 06:57

El Amenazado Chorlo Nevado

Chorlo nevado (Charadrius nivosus) or western snowy plover in English is a small shorebird that is distributed in the Western coast of North America. Unfortunately, the snowy plovers have been on the threatened list since 1993 due to poor reproductive success that is caused by a great number of disturbances. Threats include high human activity (potentially have caused an increase in predators) in breeding sites and alterations in these sites due to effects of the invasive European beachgrass (A. arenaria) introduced to stabilize sand dunes. Snowy plovers nest from March through September (during the highly visited Spring and Summer seasons). To protect the nesting plovers and their nests and potentially improve breeding success, Point Reyes National Seashore closes beaches that are known as suitable breeding habitats and where nests are observed. In spite of all the efforts to protect the nesting plovers, significant amount of nest failures have been recorded; mostly because of predation by common ravens.

On Monday June 10, 2019, I had the opportunity to perform a snowy plover nest survey with wildlife biologist Matt Lau (who ironically happens to be a Humboldt State graduate!). We walked about 2.5 miles along the beach (from Abbotts Lagoon to North Beach) and we surveyed the coast (using a line transect sampling design) where we carefully looked for snowy plovers and nests. The weather at this location, especially early in the morning tends to be cool, windy and foggy. However, the weather had different plans and we were exposed to humid and sunny conditions throughout the entire survey; coupled with the tough to walk-on sand. We did not find a nest or plovers during the first 40 to 50 minutes of the survey. It was hot, my backpack felt heavier with each step and my feet seemed to sink deeper and deeper into the sand. This reminded me of my only experience as a field biologist during my class study for my wildlife techniques class. In which I walked in muddy, steep and extremely vegetated areas in the Arcata Community Forest as I looked for sites to place artificial nests. This is what field research is all about, but instead of complaining about the conditions the entire experience is worth the sweat, sand-filled shoes, muddy pants—it’s all worth it because the data that is collected can potentially help threatened animals such as the snowy plover.

Image 1: Taking notes on the preferred snowy plover nesting sites; wider beaches.

Shortly after the initial 50 minutes, Matt spotted a pair of plovers that I completely missed with my poor binocular surveying technique. When I said that snowy plovers were small, I meant it (they also blend in well). After pointing out the location of the pair, Matt carefully scanned the area to look for a potential nest, but we could not find one. He also pointed out that the female looked larger, likely because it was close to laying an egg. We continued surveying the beach and we were fortunate to see a few more individuals and we even spotted two tiny plover chicks towards the end (major highlight).

I should note that it’s necessary to share with you that we found a failed nest site that had been observed to have two eggs. We ran across multiple common raven (we observed a significant amount of ravens during the entire survey) tracks in the area and eventually we also found the cracked shells of the snowy plover eggs. The sight of the failed nest took the air out of the moment. It was extremely sad because we had knowledge that more failed nests have occurred this year than failed nest observed last year (and it’s only June). I have seen lots of injured and dead wild animals due to my volunteering experience at the California Wildlife Experience (it’s always sad even though I am accustomed), but seeing the remains of the predated nest provided me with the reality of being a wildlife biologist.

Image 2: Snowy plover depredated egg shells.

It is more obvious to me now why wildlife biology is a difficult career. Dealing with the climate is a challenge. Dealing with the hours of collecting and analyzing data is a challenge. Identifying the best methods to perform your research is a challenge. Developing a hypothesis is difficult. Writing reports based on your findings is a challenge. Observing the remains of the predated eggs of a threatened species was a life changing experience. This blog was titled: something I learned—not only did I learn how a survey for snowy plovers is conducted, I learned a lot about the species and I also learned that I want to continue pursuing a career in this field. It’s worth it.

I must thank my supervisor, Ranger Arreglo for making this experience possible. I would also like to thank wildlife biologist Matt Lau for sharing his infinite knowledge and for  allowing me to get my feet wet (sandy!) in field research—he is a professional. Last but not least, I would like to thank my wildlife techniques professor Dan Barton for everything I learned in his class (and for his inspiring words on field biology during the 311class trip) and thank you to my inspiring ornithology professor Mark Colwell whose passion for snowy plovers (and all birds) is unmatched.

 

Published in EFTA intern blog
Wednesday, 05 June 2019 06:11

Mi Proyecto

I am an Interpretation and Outreach Assistant at Point Reyes National Seashore. It is important to include the Interpretive Mission Statement at Point Reyes National Park:

“To educate and inspire people to appreciate the importance of our natural and cultural history, to foster responsible land stewardship and conservation practices in our daily lives to protect the natural balance for the future”.

One of my tasks through this internship is to assist visitors at the Bear Valley Visitor Center. This role requires knowledge of the area and the resources available throughout the park. At the front desk of the visitor center, I am responsible for pointing out trails, the best places to observe wildlife, monitor weather conditions and provide safety measures. In addition, I provide information about the natural and cultural history of the park. I am responsible for providing the best information by assessing the specific needs of each visitor and their party. This position is amazing because it always encourages me to learn everyday since it is my goal to provide the best guidance and education as possible; to ensure that the visitors have a wonderful, an educational and safe experience during their stay. My confidence as an interpreter has grown and grows each day. I gain so much joy after every interaction with each visitor because I am in a position that allows me to connect people to the natural environment.

This internship will also provide me with the opportunity to work alongside field biologist. This upcoming year, I will complete my degree at Humboldt State University where I will be earning a Bachelor's degree in Wildlife Biology and Conservation (applied vertebrate ecology). My overall goal is to become a field biologist and conduct studies with the purpose of conservation of wildlife and their habitat. Point Reyes has a variety of field biologist who will allow me to shadow and oversee their projects with snowy plovers, spotted owls, marine mammals and fish. My project for this portion of the internship is to gain experience by observing their field methods for data collection, understanding their hypothesis and predictions, understanding how they assess their data and the implication of their results. I recently took a wildlife techniques course that focuses on field research. Now, I will have the opportunity to fully understand the knowledge I gained from the course, especially since it is applied directly to animals that are either endangered or threatened. Another project I am responsible for is to build meaningful business relationships with the biologists in order to gain opportunities to work under their guidance on projects in the future.

My number one project, however, falls under the outreach and interpretation categories of the internship. I plan to organize and conduct the activities during Latino Conservation Week here at the park in July. As you may know by now, my goal is to connect people (who do not typically have much access to our public lands) to our natural resources. I want to inspire people who share my background to take full advantage of these wonderful natural resources. I want to inspire them to pursue careers in biological sciences and simply allow them to realize that these resources are available to them as well. I personally did not visit a National Park until I was about 19 and my first visit had a life changing impact in my life. My connection and interest in naturals sciences emerged from animal documentaries and similar shows in television, but thanks to my visit to Yosemite National Park, I felt even more inspired to work hard to pursue a career in this field. Now I have the beautiful opportunity to make this connection possible for other people. My goal is to work with organizations that will allow me to bring Latinos to the park (especially those that have not had the opportunity to visit a National Park). I am currently planning the activities that will take place, but I can confirm that I will be leading hikes where I will provide information about the local wildlife, vegetation, the ecosystem and the ecology. I will likely conduct these hikes in both Spanish and English to cultivate a welcoming relationship among nature and the visitors. Along with the my scientific approach, I also intend on sharing a brief cultural history of Point Reyes due to the crucial nature of understanding and gaining the knowledge of the events that have shaped our history. The activities I will be responsible for conducting will be very inclusive to everyone, and my goal is to build a sense of belonging and togetherness among each other and our land. I am extremely fortunate that I have the opportunity to inspire people and I will do my very best to offer a great experience to everyone.

Muchas gracias colegas. 

Published in EFTA intern blog
Wednesday, 05 June 2019 04:33

Point Reyes National Seashore - MY Worksite

My worksite may have the word "seashore" in its title, however Point Reyes National Seashore encompasses so much more: a wide variety of ecosystems molded by ongoing abiotic factors, such as the weather and geology.

Regardless, it’s appropriate to begin by talking about the seashore. The seashore itself is made up multiple beaches with amazing rock formations, sandstone peaks and intertidal zones. The water is far from warm and it follows the trend in which the Pacific Ocean’s water decreases in temperature as latitude increases. As an interpreter, I should note that Point Reyes represents the foggiest place in the continental United States and is also the second most windiest place—so feel free to leave the swimsuits at home and layer up if you decide to visit (it can be warm, but the it cools down dramatically). The seashore is home to a diverse collection of wildlife. I wish I could list all of them along with their genus and species (for my taxonomy enthusiasts), but these are a few that I have observed so far in the beach: snowy plovers, brown pelicans, cormorants, sea lions, and the one of the most famous and highly requested animals, the elephant seals.

As you move inland (West to East), you can find grasslands, estuaries, sand dunes (not as monumental as those we encountered in Mojave), forests, wetlands. In its entirety, Point Reyes is dream come true for the botanist, the geologist, the zoologist (mammalogist, herpetologist and ornithologist); it’s a paradise for every member of your party. I have been at the park (“seashore”) for a week a now and I have hiked at least one mile each day at different settings—it’s a natural sensory-overload. I have heard about million notes sung by the passerines. I have observed countless of flowers, shrubs (I can lead you to poison oak city with towering buildings of hemlock), and conifers. I have been fortunate to see hawks with rabbits in their talons, I had brief encounter with a long-tailed weasel and this place has as many deers and fawns as Los Angeles has pigeons. Everything is a highlight in this place and when visitors ask for wildlife I always recommend them to explore the Tule elk reserve (a subspecies of the elk that occurs in Humboldt county).

Point Reyes is a whole lot of everything. If you plan on visiting make sure you stay for a few days to explore and experience all the ecosystems and its organisms this place has to offer. When you visit, I highly recommend you to make a quick stop at the Bear Valley Visitor Center since it has an amazing display of all the ecosystems of the area and the staff will certainly provide you with the best available information.

Point Reyes is a mosaic of nature.

Hasta la próxima colegas.

Published in EFTA intern blog
Wednesday, 15 May 2019 14:28

Kevin Garcia Lopez

I was raised in Los Angeles California, but I currently live in Arcata, a small city located in the northern coast of California. I am a junior at Humboldt State University working on a Bachelor’s of Science in Wildlife Biology and Applied Vertebrate Ecology. It has always been my goal to work with animals since I was young; mainly inspired by countless visits to zoos and through the art of animal documentaries. My passion for the environment and its organisms grew exponentially during the last ten years; thanks to exposure to National Parks and a volunteer opportunity at a wildlife center where I gained experience rehabilitating wildlife. My career goal is to become a field biologist, where I hope to work with endangered species, engage in wildlife management, and find ways to mitigate the effects of urbanization. Another career goal is to introduce science to people of different backgrounds to inspire them to pursue a career in the field or simply to spark an interest that will connect them to our natural treasures—I’m thankful this internship will allow me to engage in activities to make this connection possible.

 

Published in Intern Bios
Monday, 03 December 2018 20:24

Ilianna Padilla

I am passionate about anything that has to do with people, places, and the environment! This internship could not have presented itself at a more perfect time. I want to help improve and protect our natural resources for future generations while helping people make connections with nature.

Published in Intern Bios
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