As summer semester has fully come to a close, and Fall classes are in full swing, we wanted to highlight and celebrate our excellent summer interns that help make the Field Center what it is! Read to learn more about Summer Biological Field Intern, Adam Jeffers, his favorite thing about working at the Field Center, his advice for getting a field-based internship, and more!
1. What is your educational background?
I am going into my 3rd year at UC for a degree in Biological Science.
2. What is your favorite aspect of the Field Center?
One of my favorite aspects of working out at the Field Center is how often I get to work with my hands. It's always been a passion of mine to work in and around nature. A lot of the work we do can boil down to physical labor, but it's something I deeply enjoy doing and feels like a great fit for me. I enjoy the analytical work we do as well, but I've never felt more accomplished than after a day of clearing invasive species from the grounds out at the Field Center.
3. What are some of the tasks that you complete at the Field Center?
There are a number of different tasks we take care of at the Field Center, and it mostly revolves around the projects Ken, our director, is interested in accomplishing. No matter what we work on each day, we always take time to log observations in iNaturalist so further research can take place using the information we gather about plant and animal species present in our fields. Our recent work has been with core sampling and water percolation rates in potential wetland sites around the Field Center, which usually means digging holes and pouring water into said holes.
4. What Field Center plant or animal is your favorite?
There are a lot of animals out at the Field Center, and being an avid birdwatcher, there are plenty of options for my favorite species I've seen while working. Our group has been focused on a beaver dam that cropped up near our northern pond, and although it's rare to see any of them, it is incredibly fun when we get the chance.
5. What is your favorite way to spend time in nature?
A lot of my time in nature is spent doing one of two things, walking trails to birdwatch, or clearing invasive plants like honeysuckle. Birdwatching is relaxing and something I recommend for anyone who likes trail walking; it is so much fun when you find a species you've never seen before! Just make sure you know how to use the Merlin bird app before you run into a rare bird. Honeysuckle removal is hard work, but sometimes you really just want to break stuff. So long as you get the right plant, you're doing something to protect the environment as well as blowing off steam.
6. Do you have any nature-related resources or media that you would recommend to our readers?
I have one suggestion for nature media, Alone in the Wilderness. This is an hour-long nature documentary that is guided by the calming narration of Richard Proenneke's diaries of his nearly 30 years living alone in the Alaskan wilderness. Proenneke also brought a video camera and I believe that all of the visuals for the movie are from his original camera reels; he captures beautiful nature scenes like the spring ice floe in Alaska as well as video of a variety of animals including bears, deer, hawks, and pretty much anything he could point a camera at. There are tons of arguably questionable sites that have the movie in its entirety for free, and the log cabin that Proenneke built is still standing as a monument to his life and conservation efforts. This simple film is what drives my passion for the environment and why having an opportunity to work at the Field Center means so much to me.
7. Do you have any advice for students interested in field-based internships?
For anyone who wants to work at the Field Center or anywhere similar, it helps to be outspoken and personable in classes; professors want to know you if they are gonna hire you as interns. Granted, this advice is not what helped me get into my internship, and for a lot of people, speaking up in large classrooms is very difficult. I maybe only raised my hand in Ken's Ecology course three times over a whole semester; I'm sure he never even heard my name out loud. My advice is when you find a professor whose class you enjoy, stalking that professor by signing up for other classes they teach can really help them begin to recognize you out of a crowd of other potential applicants. Through my enjoyment of Ken's Ecology course, I spontaneously signed up for an Urban Ecosystem Research course that I knew very little about. It was through that second course, which I took solely due to Ken being one of the two professors, that I was able to hear about his pitch for an internship at the Field Center. Courses outside of general education for a major are usually topics a professor is most passionate about; these courses operate on a smaller scale, with much smaller classes giving more chances to connect with a professor.