“Don’t limit yourself one bit. You’re young. Go out and explore the world.”
That’s what an alumnus told me recently on the phone. From the Class of 1960, he had spent time in El Salvador planting Monterey pine to prevent the encroachment of sand dunes. He told me to be mobile while I can and explore the world, and I plan to continue doing just that.
This past summer, I was fortunate to be a herpetological conservation intern at Yosemite National Park for the Aquatic Restoration Crew for the National Park Service. This internship was housed under the non-profit The Greening Youth Foundation. I had never been to Yosemite before, and had never even considered actively pursuing work with the National Park Service. When I saw the posting, I know I had to jump on it.
The Mosaic in Science internship program provides college students and young adults that are under-represented in the natural resource career field to work on science-based projects within the National Park Service. My specific program was with the Aquatic Restoration Crew at Yosemite National Park. Some of the projects they work on are the restoration of the endangered Sierra Nevada Yellow-legged frog to high elevation lakes, control of invasive bullfrog populations, and the reintroduction of the Western pond turtle to Yosemite Valley. I mostly worked on the latter project. During the summer, I was often using telemetry to track translocated turtles with radio transmitters, turtle trapping to assess potential donor populations, and conducting surveys for sensitive amphibian populations. I was able to apply so many skills and concepts that I had learned from Warnell to this Western project and learn a whole heap of new information! At the conclusion of the internship in August, the program is accompanied by a career workshop to learn about how to get a federal job with NPS. At this workshop, I finally meet up with all of the other interns from the 23 other parks within the program and developed deep and meaningful relationships after reading about their adventures online!
To this day, it’s hard for me to grasp that I was able to work at one of our country’s favorite parks. I would have never imagined I would be doing such meaningful work. I definitely took that alumni’s words to heart and was proud to tell him how I’ve already started to follow that mission. I plan to continue exploring this world, and I’m incredibly happy to be in a career field that allows me to do that. Warnell has opened so many doors for me, and I couldn’t be more thankful.