No stone unTERNed

Shannon Lynch FP '16

Shannon Lynch FP '16, Student

Major: Environmental Studies

Concentration: Conservation

Internship: Project Puffin, National Audubon Society

During my time at community college, I took as many environmentally focused classes as I could, with a passion for interdisciplinary coursework. While I loved the many opportunities to talk about how the natural world ties in with our social issues, I had a burning desire to dive into the conservation world.

I had read all of Barbara Kingsolver’s novels growing up and when her most recent novel, Flight Behavior, was released, I decided I would finally take a chance on studying hard science. I took an intensive Introduction to Biology class that summer before starting at Mount Holyoke, so I would be at the same level as my classmates that fall.

While my first science class at Mount Holyoke was difficult, it was a dream come true to finally have the chance to study ecology.
I loved how we used the campus as our laboratory, how my professor had faith that we could all learn the material and the support of my peers in our weekly Peer-Led Undergraduate Mentoring System (PLUMS) sessions. The next semester, I enrolled in a class titled Conservation Biology, where I was able to discuss the ethics and practices of conservation while exploring case studies in the Pioneer Valley.

This class truly prepared me for that summer’s internship with Project Puffin, the National Audubon Society’s seabird conservation program in the Gulf of Maine.
My internship, funded through Mount Holyoke’s Lynk-UAF program and the Miller Worley Center, was a once in a lifetime experience. I had the opportunity to live on islands with only other researchers and the birds we were trying to protect. I lived in my tent and spent hours re-sighting banded birds, counting nests, banding chicks, and keeping an eye on the local and migrant bird populations.

The main species I worked with was the Common Tern, a bird I knew nothing about before that summer. While my internship was very challenging at times, I learned a lot about myself, my personal values and what I need in my future positions. Furthermore, my internship opened my eyes to the world of birding, and I have a new favorite pastime that I can practice from my front porch.