Building a biodiversity database and leading teens on nature hikes

Carey Lang '14, Intern

Major: Environmental Studies

Concentration: Ecosystem Science

Internship: Pepperwood Preserve- Santa Rosa, CA

Pepperwood Preserve: is a nonprofit conservation science research facility located on a 3,000 acre nature preserve in northern California. Pepperwood provides a protected space for California's native flora and fauna to grow and thrive. The mission of Pepperwood is to steward the life and landscapes of the Preserve and to advance science-based conservation of ecosystems throughout our region and beyond. The preserve has undertaken numerous projects to restore ecosystems affected by early 20th century deforestation, agriculture, and invasive species. Additionally, Pepperwood features an interdisciplinary array of environmental education programming geared for all ages.

My internship responsibilities were two-fold: I was expected to work diligently on two main projects over the course of the summer, and then fill in my work week doing research or education tasks as necessary. I was also able to pick and choose different Pepperwood employees to shadow or work with on various jobs.

My main project was building a biodiversity database for Pepperwood and I worked on this three days a week. My time was spent training on how to use Microsoft Access, and then downloading, cleaning up and formatting different datasets from projects occurring on the preserve. I had no prior experience doing this and I learned the skills necessary to build another database if I had to.

My other project was working as a leader of a teen naturalist summer camp that ran for four weeks in the middle of the summer. This camp took priority over the database over the course of the four weeks, but the camp only ran for three days a week so I could spend the other two days working on the database. As a leader, I was expected to supervise the teen interns on hikes and outdoor activities, as well as create lectures to present during classroom time. I was also able to give some input on the schedule and structure of the naturalist camp.

I came in with some experience in outdoor education, but I had never had to teach or lead students for an entire day, but I found that I really enjoyed it and learned the skills to do it again.