My First Month as an Endangered Species Intern My First Month as an Endangered Species Intern
23 August 2023

My First Month as an Endangered Species Intern

On my first day at the Sacramento USFWS Office, I received a welcome letter that said “and so the journey begins” on the cover. I had a full circle moment because that was my senior yearbook quote in high school:

it reassured me that I was in the right place. My dream of working to mitigate climate change effects, conserve species, and make a real impact is in the works. 

During my first week, our office hosted a social picnic at Black Miner’s Bar, where I met everyone in the office and connected with two interns. The interns and I went down to the American River and dipped our toes in the freshwater, watched a group of kids on kayaks, and observed a bright red crawdad swimming in the water. It was amazing to be outdoors, feeling the warm sun on my skin and the freshwater on my feet. 

In my second week, I participated in a 3-day training on Effect Pathway Manager (EPM) in the Environmental Conservation Online System (ECOS). This is a large focus of my work during my internship, and I am in the process of assessing resource needs and collecting conservation measures for Vernal Pool Fairy Shrimp. I will input data into EPM to analyze effects of human urbanization and development in the fairy shrimp’s habitats. It’s been a joy learning about vernal pools and fairy shrimp’s unique life cycle through a literature research extravaganza; it’s even more special knowing that I get to use my research to help protect these vulnerable brachiopods. 

Finally, I went on a field visit to Travis Air Force Base. A group of biologists and interns joined Dr. Marty, an ecologist working on habitat management and restoration projects. Dr. Marty's focus is the California Tiger Salamander (CTS), a listed endangered species that lives near vernal pools. Thirty pitfall traps, buckets filled with water, moss, wet sponges, and sticks to help mammals crawl out if captured, are set around the base to capture the CTS as they migrate, and we caught 8!  A plethora of other critters were trapped along with the CTS including toads and frogs, insects like wolf spiders and beetles, and even a juvenile skink. The salamanders and company were released back into burrows so they could relocate as they wished. We reset the traps by moistening the moss and sponge and closing the buckets with a brick to ensure wind won't blow the tops away, nor lead to drying of the moss. This was a fun, phenomenal hands-on experience and I'm looking forward to what the next couple of months have in store for me. 


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