Second Summer Experience

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For the second summer internships, groups of 2 – 3 scholars will be matched with mentors and internship projects based on personal interests and professional aspirations, in order to foster a strong mentor-student relationship. We jointly develop internship projects with the mentors, all of whom are committed to the goal of a more just and equitable conservation field. We recognize that our scholars have diverse interests, professional aspirations, and career trajectories. With this in mind, we develop research opportunities that accommodate a broad range of scholar interests, while maintaining a network of mentors and organizations that participate in our program on a continuing basis. While internships are located across the country, many have a strong emphasis on the protection of water and wildlife in the western United States. 

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Past Internship Opportunities

Spatial Mapping to Inform Landscape Conservation and Management  

Host Institution: Conservation Science Partners, Truckee, CA

Mentor: Dr. Brett Dickson

CSP is a nonprofit scientific collective that uses analytical and research techniques to address conservation questions over landscape, regional, or national scales. DDCSP interns worked with CSP’s network of experts to analyze a wide variety of geospatial information. They helped create an interactive map that will contain agricultural information (type of agriculture, productivity, water usage, acreage lost to urbanization, etc), analyzed post-fire expansion of invasive cheat grass, used Google Earth to create a database of land cover and land use all over the planet, and helped with a local environmental education project.  

Science for Southern Utah Advocacy 

Host Institution: Grand Canyon Trust, Flagstaff, AZ

Mentor: Dr. Mary O’Brien

The mission of the Grand Canyon Trust is to protect and restore the Colorado Plateau. DDCSP interns worked with the Trust’s Utah Forests Program on a wide variety of ongoing conservation efforts.  Interns spent most of their summer engaged in field work and honed skills in plant identification, biological crust surveys, boreal toad surveys, monitoring impacts of livestock and mountain goat browsing, blogging, scientific writing, and advocacy with land managers.

Impact of Climate Change on Predator-Prey Dynamics in Snow Dependent Communities

Host Institution:USGSNortheast Climate Science Center, Amherst, MA

Mentor:Dr. Toni Lyn Morelli

This internship opportunity focused on the influence of climate, habitat, and competition on predator-prey dynamics with a focus on Canada lynx, American marten, and snowshoe hares. Interns studied how current community dynamics may be altered given predicted changes in climate and habitat.  Interns collected baseline data on abundance, survival, and habitat preference of prey species The interns learned to identify and interpret wildlife sign, and identify tree, shrub, and plant species common in the study area. Interns also gained experience with animal trapping and radio-telemetry and camera trapping, conducting background research, assisted with data entry and management, and statistical and graphical analysis using Program R and GIS. 

Pollination of Threatened and Endangered Plants in Response to Non-Native Predators

Host Institution: Landscape Conservation Initiative, Flagstaff, AZ/ Honolulu, HI

Mentor: Dr. Clare Aslan

During this internship, students participated in two ongoing pollination studies: one in northern Arizona, and one in Hawaii. The pollination research in northern Arizona is examining plant and pollinator network recovery after fire, and also identifying the pollinators of an endangered cactus. In Hawaii, the project studies the impact of non-native predators on pollination of threatened and endangered plant species in Hawaii. Interns observed pollination in experimental plots where non-native predators were excluded from experimental plots and tracking pollination within those plots as part of a two-year project. Interns learned about all aspects of the scientific process, insect identification skills, greenhouse plant propagation skills, and pollination biology skills. 

The Next 100 Coalition: Public Lands For All

Host Institution: Keystone Policy Institute, Washington D.C.

Mentor: Kevin Bryan

The Next 100 Coalition is comprised of more than two-dozen grassroots community, conservation, civil rights, and environmental justice organizations with an inclusive vision for our national public lands. The Next 100 Coalition is committed to the establishment of a just and inclusive system of our nation’s national parks and other public lands. Interns assisted the coalition in honing its message, broadening its audience beyond progressive policy askers at the federal level, and enacting policy recommendations at the state, local, and national level. Interns organized Capitol Hill briefings, tracked federal activity related to public lands in Congress, and attended relevant Congressional briefings and meetings

Creating Story Maps of Using National Parks Magazine

Host Institution:National Parks Conservation Association, Washington D.C.

Mentor: Dr. Ryan Valdez

Since 1919, the National Parks Conservation Association has worked to strengthen and protect America's national parks. Its National Parks Magazine fosters an appreciation of the natural and historic treasures found in the parks, educates readers about the need to preserve those resources, and illustrates how member contributions drive the NPCA’s park-protection efforts. The interns researched articles on international parks in NPCA National Parks’ Magazine archives to add to an already existing database that will be visualized in an interactive on-line map (Story Maps) in coordination with NPCA’s Conservation Programs. Interns provided an analysis of how current events potentially impact the reporting, and what we might expect in the current political climate. Interns were provided additional learning experiences, including brown bag lunch talks at major conservation organizations, meetings with federal agency representatives, visits to local national parks, and public hearings on Capitol Hill.

Coral Reef Spatial and Temporal Dynamics

Host Institution: Scripps Institution of Oceanography, San Diego, CA

Mentor: Dr. Stuart Sandin

Researchers in the Sandin Lab at UCSD study the ecology of coral reefs and marine communities, with the goal of informing management decisions and finding effective conservation approaches for these imperiled ecosystems. DDCSP interns helped analyze coral reef image data to gain insights into the “natural” spatial patterns of coral and reef fish communities and how anthropogenic stressors alter these interactions. Their analyses will help determine the trends of reef ecosystems, establish metrics for the improved management of coral reefs, and allow researchers to provide better guidance to resource managers, policymakers, and the public.

Restoration Economies on the US – Mexico Border

Host Institution:Borderlands Restoration Leadership Institute

Mentor: Dr. Ron Pulliam

Borderlands Restoration Leadership Institute is a collaborative effort of multiple organizations that have come together to foster a ‘restoration economy’ in which diverse livelihoods support and restore healthy natural systems and support prosperous and vibrant communities in the US – Mexico borderlands. Interns participated in a portion of the six-week field course in the Madrean Archipelago of the US/Mexico borderland, composed of integrated lectures, workshops, and field trips that addressed a wide range of socio-ecological issues in the region. Interns participated active restoration projects at varying stages of completion, equipping them with knowledge, techniques and skills in both ecological restoration and the restoration economy. Interns developed individual projects based on their interests including, spatial mapping of aquifers and investigative journalism.