Read about the summer adventures of past Student Conservation Association (SCA) interns working with the park's Division of Interpretation.
Student Conservation Assocation Intern Blog Archive
July 9, 2008. Hi! My name is Katie. This summer I’m lucky enough to be one of the Student Conservation Association (SCA) interns at Acadia National Park. I’m from Champlain, NY (waaaay up north near the Canadian/VT border), and I go to school at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec. I have one more year to go to finish up my environmental science degree.
Lately, I’ve been interested in marine/coastal ecology, which is why Acadia is a pretty perfect place for me to be. This is my first time to Maine and my first time working in a national park. I love hiking the mountains here, jumping in the Atlantic Ocean (yes, it’s freezing!), and exploring the park.
While spending this first month in training I’ve learned so much! By going on other rangers' programs, boat cruises the park offers, and hanging out with the staff, I have a good feel for the park, its plants, animals, and cultural history.
Currently, I’m assisting rangers with programs involving tidepool critters, peregrine falcons, stream ecology, and astronomy.
The people in the interpretive community are awesome on and off work. Everyone seems to be having a great time this season including myself, living and loving life here at Acadia.
July 9, 2008. Well, hello! My name is Luke, and I am currently an SCA intern at Acadia National Park. When I started working, the first few weeks consisted of basic training stacked with historical information about the island. We were given bus/boat tours and basic geological information about how the island formed, and got acquainted with our district.
Since the actual work has started, I have been fortunate to assist in four programs that pique my interest. One, for example, includes tracking peregrine falcons through a scope while telling visitors facts and historical information about the sensitive species that is making a come-back. Another program I am involved with includes helping people understand how the park is managed (this is a short tour that ends with stream-species identification while explaining how water quality is determined).
I am happy to say that I have been having a fantastic time. For further information or other questions regarding my internship, stay tuned to this weekly blog. I hope this finds all of you doing well…
July 16, 2008. Now that I have grown accustomed to my schedule, I feel that things are falling into place at a faster rate now-a-days. As I have stated before, I work with four different programs, however, I am more involved now than I was two weeks ago. For example, I now speak regularly to Peregrine Watch visitors about the DDT crisis through a detailed outline I have presented and memorized. In "Through the Looking Glass" we take a short tour before coming to a stop at a nearby stream to collect insects and invertebrates. During the tour we have three regular stops whereupon my boss or I talk about the park and its management. This week, I conducted one stop, and next week I will be doing all three. This is a common trend with all of my programs—maybe the next blog I write will include information on how I have conducted all or most of the "information stops" within the rest of my programs!
July 23, 2008. Hello again!
Since I last wrote I've had some pretty awesome experiences. At the Precipice, while assisting with the Peregrine Watch, I got to see my first male and female indigo bunting (across the street) through the high-powered scope. I never realized how bright blue they were! This past weekend most of the interpretive staff got to go on a special cruise during the full moon. Behind the boat we saw a bunch of bioluminescent plankton—so cool! They kind of looked like fireflies, but in the water. We also got to see osprey on their giant nest. Last week during the astronomy program that I assist with, while looking through binoculars, I was able to see two of Jupiter's moons—awesome! It's amazing how much more of the night sky you can see just by using binoculars.
For the past two weeks I have been getting more involved with the four programs I've been working on. I've enjoyed helping Dwight, one of the Teacher-Ranger-Teachers, on his stream ecology program. I love helping the kids discover the aquatic jungle. I assist with insect collection and tell them more about this important ecosystem as a bioindicator for water quality. Everyone loves getting in the stream and having a closer look at the insects under the magnifying glass. With a full group almost every time, the program has been a rewarding experience.
Every Wednesday I help with the tidepooling program, "Beyond the Beach," and recently I've been telling visitors about the incredibly exciting and occasionally stressful life of mollusks! No, really—they do pretty cool things even if their life is a slow-moving motion picture. : )
More to come later.
August 1, 2008. Hey there! Luke and I have been busy getting more involved with our programs, like we talked about last week. With the young peregrine falcons no longer dependent on their cliff site we are starting to work on other programs.
Tuesday night I got the chance to talk about some of my favorite constellations and their Greek mythology while helping with the Stars Over Sand Beach astronomy program. We had the best night for stars yet--beautiful shooting stars and the clouds stayed away!
Today I tried something new and helped out Renay, one of our teacher-ranger-teachers with a big group of kindergartners from the YMCA. We were both a little unsure about how the program would go, but things went smoothly and I had a lot of fun. Renay taught them about beavers and the kids enjoyed petting the fur, exploring the beaver chews in the woods and playing mammal charades. I also made up a simple predator-prey tag game with the kids being beavers, fur trappers, wolves and bears. They all went crazy about it.
This weekend I'll be helping some of the researchers in the park with tidepool surveys starting at the early morning low tide (5:30 a.m.!). Yikes! I'm really excited to get a taste of what it's like to work out in the field here. More to report later.
August 8, 2008. Things at Acadia are starting to wrap up for me (most definitely not for those who work year-round). However, plenty of work still needs to be done. Several of my programs have changed either due to their ending for the season (the peregrine falcons are out and about, leaving us with little time to view them at their nest) or due to a switch I made with another SCA (Katie and I have traded programs). Now I am exploring several different programs where I will be assisting throughout the end of the season. Also, my boss has come up with a list of objectives to grade the SCAs on; he will present to us our scores and let us know how to improve.
I have enjoyed my experience at Acadia; the only change I would wish to make would be the temperature of the water! I am an avid snorkeler; this has resulted in many frigid snorkeling adventures within the cold Gulf of Maine. My internship has been great; I have run programs all by myself and learned an extreme amount of new information. The people are far too generous, and housing has been extraordinaire. I have about three weeks left, and though that may not sound too short a time, I know that it will go by quickly. Excited as I am to see my friends back home, I will undoubtedly miss Acadia.
August 13, 2008. Recently I've been working with another division in the park, Resource Management. I'm really interested in field research, and this crew of people works on numerous projects involving wildlife, air quality, water resources...The list goes on. I was able to talk to the park’s wildlife biologist, and he agreed to let me go out with their team. I was really excited to help out another division of the park and see what they do on a daily basis. We went to Eagle Lake to check on the loon family, finished setting up a long-term salamander monitoring system, and assisted the intern at the Somes-Meynell Preserve with a loon search, which required us to kayak for a few hours around the pond.
As Bruce, the park’s wildlife biologist, was about to head out with us on some of the projects, he was intercepted by someone who had found an injured brown bat. Apparently this happens all the time—so many projects to complete, phone ringing off the hook, and pressing issues like rabid or injured animals that need to be tended to immediately. Limited staff and time make these jobs challenging, but nevertheless they seem to do an excellent job keeping our park healthy.
August 21, 2008. The summer is winding down, and people are already starting to leave. As for myself, I head back home Monday so this will be my last blog entry. It's been challenging to push myself through the last couple weeks, but I'm proud of myself. Instead of slowing down I've been doing more and more.
Last Thursday I helped out Resource Management again. We were assigned the dirty work: march around a swamp looking for a deer enclosure that was made in the 1930s and find the subsequent vegetation plots (that are now lost somewhere in a thick cedar forest...no longer a swamp) following written directions from the 1980s. Needless to say, we weren't too successful in finding the other vegetation plots, but the deer enclosure was pretty cool (fenced off transect to measure non-browsing from deer). Monday I was able to do “Through the Looking Glass” virtually all by myself from the outline that I wrote up and prepared. We had almost a full group of people, Luke helped with stream collection, and everything went smoothly. My last day I will be giving the whole program by myself, with Mike (my supervisor) in street clothes to observe me. My parents will be going on the program, too! No pressure. Every Wednesday and Friday I've been getting more involved with Beyond the Beach, having researched and discussed every animal group in preparation for my last Friday program. Hopefully, I will be able to have my own station and present about all the animals. It looks like it will be a good conclusion to my stay here at Acadia.
Three months in the park, and I'm ready to go home and start the next adventure. I leave August 31 for a field semester in Barbados—yikes! It has been a wonderful summer. I've learned so much and met/worked with amazing people. I am incredibly grateful for having this experience; I know it will help take me to the places I want to go after I finish college. Thank you everyone!