Tag Archives: internships

Capturing the Mission: Science Communications Internships

Interning with Student Conservation Association was the best opportunity I could have experienced as a recent college graduate. I was exposed to some amazing people and places that made my internship truly memorable. Working alongside the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service’s External Affairs team allowed me to tell the amazing stories of projects happening all throughout the Northeast Region, sometimes travelling to do so! On one occasion, I traveled to Maine to meet a biologist to see how far their monarch and woodcock project had come! It was rewarding to highlight their amazing story and hard work to preserve land for two species in need.

Don’t just take my word for it! SCA interns from all over have experienced everything from broadcasting to endangered species work! Let’s hear from Beth Decker, her full story is here.

We were headed out to get footage of the Puritan tiger beetles and the beaches they live on.

“For the past two summers, I have been working at the Service’s Northeast Regional Office in Hadley, Mass. in our broadcast department. We’re the side of the Service that most people may not know about- we work with our public affairs team to tell our stories using multimedia. I have had the privilege to see conservation in action, and document it so people are aware of the work we do.  I’ve documented red knots, Puritan tiger beetles, and Karner blue butterflies. I’m always excited to start my next project and show our mission in action!”

Rani Jacobson has an incredible story to tell too! Her story begins on Great Gull Island in New York.  Here’s what she learned!

Rani Jacobson with a tern chick. Credit: Venice Wong

“We learned how to trap and handle adult terns and how to record certain information, such as weight, beak length and band number. The next part of the day was devoted to banding tern chicks, which was a bit easier and much more fun. We used pliers to put bands on the legs of the chicks and recorded the band number and how many chicks and eggs were in the nest, all while being dive-bombed by the adults.  I had a fantastic week on the island.”

Here’s a look at one last intern that can turn a serious matter into a call for action. Tom Barnes communicated the seriousness of white-nose syndrome in bats in this blog, and brought a serious conservation concern to light.

Healthy Virginia big-eared bats. Bats are fascinating animals that are vital for a health environment, eating tons of insects nightly, benefiting our crops, our forests and us. Credit: Craig Stihler / WVDNR

“Despite their long association with vampires, haunted houses and the uncanny in general, bats are facing a horror story of their own. The disease white-nose syndrome has decimated bat populations in our region, killing nearly all hibernating bats in some areas. And it’s spreading — first documented in a New York cave in the winter of 2006-2007, the disease or the fungus that causes it (Pseudogymnoascus destructans) is now found in 33 states. Experts fear that some bats are even becoming extinct in certain areas. If one thing’s clear, we shouldn’t be afraid of bats. We should be afraid for them.”

As interns, it’s our job to share these stories and learn from the incredible adventures along the way. Interested ? We’re looking for two communication interns for our Fisheries & Aquatic Connectivity and Ecological Services programs. These 10-month paid positions will be located at our regional office in Hadley, Massachusetts. Click here for more information.

More great intern stories with USFWS External Affairs!

Childhood adventures inspire life career goals

IMG_4966Today we hear from Tannar Francis, a Pathways student working in our fisheries program in Maine. Tannar shares his story of passion and commitment to fisheries conservation, and his journey in following his dream to work in the field of natural resources.

Having grown up with strong cultural ties to the land and watersheds within the Penobscot Indian Nation, I always knew I wanted to pursue a job in the outdoors. The summer after I completed high school this dream became reality when I received an opportunity to apply for a biologist aid position for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Tanner Francis

Tannar completed stream surveys during his summers in Maine working for our fisheries program. Photo credit: USFWS

After being interviewed for the job, I was offered the position, which started my journey into the world of fisheries. I spent my first summer with the Service conducting stream surveys in the Mattamiscontis watershed in Lincoln, Maine in order to see what locations in the watershed are suitable for salmon stocking and rearing. In knowing this information we could then determine where we should implant the salmon eggs. When I finished my seasonal employment and gave my end of the summer presentation to my supervisor, he asked if I would be interested in coming back the following summer, to which I replied “absolutely,” with great appreciation!

Tannar Francis 3

Tannar at work in the field with a Service biologist. Student interns and employees experience a variety of natural resource management work during their employment. Photo credit: USFWS

Now I am currently in my fourth field season with the Service in the Pathways program, which helps students gain employment with the Service after graduation. As a Pathways student I have done many different fishery tasks, including electrofishing to see what fish species are in different watersheds, culvert fish removal in order to safely relocate fish from a construction site, clamshell relocation after the dams on the Penobscot river were removed and the water levels were dropping to safely put them in the deepest part of the water channel and river habitat restoration.  I have also worked in hatcheries, gaining experience in bleeding fish to find out if any contain diseases and making “trap runs” to get fish out of the fish traps at the Milford dam to bring to the hatchery for spawning.

 Fish habitat restoration on the Meduxnekeag river is just one of the projects Tannar is involved with. Photo credit: USFWS

Fish habitat restoration on the Meduxnekeag river is just one of the projects Tannar is involved with. Photo credit: USFWS

Having this start in fisheries helped steer my education in the direction of environmental sciences. I plan to graduate from the University of Maine at Farmington with a degree in environmental science and continue my education by pursuing my masters in a more specific topic such as fisheries biology. I know that education is the key to success and I plan on gaining as much knowledge in the science field as possible. As for future career goals I hope to get a job in fisheries that is close to home, such as a Service job in the northeast.

I am very passionate about working with fish and I have gained a lot of knowledge in the field these past summers, yet there is still more to learn. I am thankful for all of the experiences and knowledge that I have acquired by working with the Service and I look forward to what the future holds for me.


My refuge, my home: A firsthand account of summer at Chincoteague

Today, you're hearing from Jenna Valente, a recent graduate who has been interning at Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge in Virginia.

Today, you’re hearing from Jenna Valente, a recent graduate who has been interning at Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge in Virginia.

So there I was, an eager 22-year-old entering the last week of finals that I would ever have to take before receiving my prized bachelor’s degree from the University of Maine. I was continually searching for new job opportunities in the area I am most passionate about: the environment. Approximately two months into my search, my attention was drawn to a posting for an internship at Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge in Virginia. I arrived at Chincoteague searching for knowledge and adventure and my refuge experience provided that plus a lot more.

After an extensive interview process, I was offered a position working with the biology department, studying the population and nesting habits of federally threatened and endangered shorebirds. I was placed on a team with three other people to form the unstoppable force that is now known as the “Cedar Island Rock Stars.” We monitored Cedar Island, a remote barrier island off the coast of the quaint fishing town of Wachapreague, Virginia.

The Cedar Island Rock Stars

Over the summer, I established a deep connection with Cedar Island and the wildlife that called it home. Like the barrier island that I worked on, I found myself dynamically developing with the knowledge that I was acquiring. I truly became engaged in my work and will never forget the first nest that I found, hatch that I saw, fledging that I witnessed and American oystercatcher that I banded.

Although I only observed these birds for four months, I felt a part of their successes and failures and rooted for them all the way. My life became like something out of National Geographic. With the 56 breeding pairs of piping plovers and 47 breeding pairs of American oystercatchers, there was never a dull moment on that island. I found that I transformed into a vigilant mother figure and I was constantly concerned with my brood’s whereabouts and safety.

Summer flew by in a blink of an eye, and many of my roommates and close friends began packing up and heading back out into the world in search of their next career ventures. I, however, remained through the fall with an internship with the visitor services department. With a bachelor’s degree in communication, I found it imperative that I learn how to overcome any challenges that may accompany interpreting resources to the public.


One of the many awe-inspiring sunrises we had the privilege of witnessing on our boat ride to Cedar Island. These moments alone made us look forward to waking up before sunrise!

One of the many awe-inspiring sunrises we had the privilege of witnessing on our boat ride to Cedar Island. These moments alone made us look forward to waking up before sunrise!

One day, a few visitors inquired about the roped-off the loggerhead sea turtle nests that we find on the island. They did not understand why it was necessary to block off such a large section of beach just for a nest. I took their curiosity as an opportunity to put my interpreter cap on and educate while creating meaning.

I spoke about how we have learned a lot about the nesting habits of loggerheads. Using egg samples to construct a maternal DNA database, the common belief that loggerheads return to their original hatch site to nest as adults has been debunked. We now know that mothers have nested in several different locations up and down the coastline. This new data encouraged our biologists to provide an even larger area of protected beachfront for safe nesting grounds. My challenge was conveying why sea turtle nest protection is important to everyone. The group gasped in shock at the fact that only 1 in 10,000 sea turtle hatchlings will survive to maturity without ever experiencing the impacts of humans on the oceans and their nesting habitat. The moment I made the strife of the sea turtles clear to them, I knew I had changed their perceptions.

The refuge’s purpose is to provide wildlife some sanctuary from the encroaching outside world, and it offered me the same circumvention. Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge became a refreshing tonic for my soul. I appreciate the experience that I have had at Chincoteague; I could not ask for a better team of supervisors and I know that when I leave here, I will have acquired a well-rounded experience that will make me a multifaceted addition to any organization’s team.