I’m a range management intern. The ranches occupy much of the park space. I’m going out on almost every one and have been able to explore so much while at work.
I’m in the process of measuring residual dry matter on the ranches that have leases to graze cattle. It’s a way to monitor the amount of vegetation still left, to see if they’re overgrazing or underutilizing the pasture and might need to alter the grazing regime.
I also do fence maintenance, to keep the cattle out of riparian zones to improve water quality, and manage the plant nursery. The other intern and I installed an irrigation system. All of the nursery plants will be used for winter restoration projects.
The job includes mapping and using ARC GIS, and a lot of nursery work and plant identification. All of those tools are super applicable to the sciences in general. My mapping skills have greatly improved, both my hand drawing and being able to navigate on a topo. I’ll be working on digitizing all the maps we’ve been hand drawing this winter. Even though this is a little outside of what I studied in school, all those tools will be super helpful to me in the future.
I would love to be doing some type of vegetation or wildlife monitoring or management. It’s interesting interning with the park because you get a better idea of what the scientists do here. A lot of it is more management than research. I’m still deciding if more land management is the route I want to go.
I did an internship last summer at Guadalupe Mountains National Park in Texas, so I was familiar with the park service mentality and spirit. This is a wonderful experience to get my foot further in the door and make connections and learn a lot of new things. It’ll be really helpful in applying for actual jobs.
It’s been really great working and living at the park. My supervisors are wonderful and knowledgeable. I live in a house that’s for researchers and interns. Everyone’s been super friendly. I get snippets from my housemates learning what they’re working on.
They extended my position here through March with separate funding. I’ll be here in winter through restoration plantings, and once the storms come I’ll see how that’s affected the water quality. And in spring there will be a lot of vegetation sampling, with all the plants and wildflowers popping up. It’s exciting to be here at the beginning of these projects and to be able to implement them in winter.
Diana Tataru, UC Santa Cruz
range management/vegetation ecology
Michael Spaeth, UC Merced
dune restoration and rare plants
Stella Yuan, UC San Diego
Michele Maybee, UC Berkeley