My Conservation and Land Management Internship experience was amazing! I really couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity. The San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research has an annoyingly long name, but it offered a glimpse into multiple fields of scientific study, all of which I found interesting. There are seven different divisions within the Institute: Applied Animal Ecology, Behavioral Biology, Conservation Education, Genetics, Applied Plant Ecology, Reproductive Physiology, and Wildlife Disease Laboratories. I mostly worked on projects within the applied ecology divisions, but I still learned about some of the other research being conducted. For someone like me, who is curious about all aspects of conservation biology, but has no idea how to narrow it down in order to choose an area of study for graduate school, this internship was invaluable.
I’ve learned all about seed banking and herbariums; how to collect vouchers, monitor and eventually gather the seeds from plant populations. I’ve learned how to clean and store seeds, and how to bring them out of dormancy . I’ve learned how to recognize the song of Coastal Cactus Wrens, and how to catch endangered Stephens’ Kangaroo Rats. I’ve learned about habitat restoration, and acquired a healthy respect for cacti and its spines. I was able to explore many remote areas in San Diego County, and I got to call hunting for wild flowers “work”.
I’m excited for what comes next, but I am also very grateful for everything I got to experience in my ten months here.