And for those in school... Issue 2
Are you interested in studying trees, threats to forest health, or the interconnections between forests and stream life? If you would you like to understand and restore ecosystems in the National Parks, here are some suggestions about how to get there:
In high school: Take biology, chemistry, earth science, geography, and math courses geared for college-bound students, because these will prepare you best for challenging college courses. Ask parks if they have high school summer internships, as the Great Smoky Mountains National Park does.
In college and/or graduate school: It's important to gain field experience. Find out if you like long, hard days in the field, and long days in the lab identifying and studying. If you love biology, botany, ecology, geography, forestry, geology, or entomology, look for research, jobs, or internships (see below) to gain more experience.
You need at least a high school diploma or GED to treat trees for hemlock woolly adelgid, but almost all jobs in the National Parks require a bachelor’s degree in a related field (forestry, botany, biology, ecology, to name a few). A master’s degree and research in forestry or biology (to study hemlocks), or biology or entomology, to study aquatic macroinvertebrates, are essential to being a subject expert in the field. Many of the biologists here have PhDs in addition to years of experience. Start early, and be sure you love what you do!
Gaining other experience: Showing that you are interested and have field experience is vital. You can gain experience for a career through internships and seasonal jobs. Find internships in public lands with the Student Conservation Association. You can search the topic, area, or dates for which you’re interested. Find jobs during the summers while you are a college or graduate student through the STEP (Student Temporary Employment Program), which offers you non-competitive positions. Call or write parks directly for information about this program. Also, check out the Federal Jobs website for current, competitive job openings: you will probably start as a seasonal Forestry or Biological Technician if you're interested in hemlocks and forest health, or as an intern or Biological Technician if you're interested in aquatic macroinvertebrates and stream health.
Good luck, and have fun!
Return to Dispatches from the Field: Issue 2.
Did You Know?
An experimental program to reintroduce elk to the park was begun in 2001. Elk once roamed the Smokies, but were eliminated from the region in the mid 1800s by over-hunting and loss of habitat. Other animals successfully reintroduced to the park include river otters and barn owls. More...