What were you surprised to learn during your time with TI?
The first thing that comes to mind was how many scientific plant names we could learn and retain! But I think one of the most surprising things I learned was how people with passion and commitment can make a difference in their community. Environmental restoration used to feel daunting and inaccessible, as if only large firms with powerful litigation could take a crack at it. Tidal Influence is a very small team of extremely passionate people who have been able to work on a lot of projects and recruit a lot of local people to make restoration a reality. I was really inspired by Eric Zahn’s mentality, which I would describe as let’s figure it out and let’s make it happen.
What are you up to now (professionally)?
Well, I just defended my Master’s thesis, which feels huge. I am also currently working for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife in their non-game wildlife program. I’m currently helping with mesocarnivore monitoring in the Sierra Nevada area and I’ll be spending time this winter in the backcountry maintaining camera traps. One of our focal species is the endangered Sierra Nevada Red Fox, and we’re also hoping to get more information on our resident wolverine, Buddy. After that I will be working on bioaccoustic surveys of Great Grey Owls.
How did your time with Tidal Influence impact or support reaching your current position?
I think that my experience at Tidal Influence really helped give me confidence, both professionally and personally. I am very proud of my work as lead intern, and I am proud of the work my cohort accomplished. I think my leadership experience helped me be a better candidate for leading teams and for working independently. This internship also helped me confirm that I want to work in ecology as a career.
When and how did you get involved with Tidal Influence?
I started my internship with Tidal Influence in October of 2014. I was in my last year of graduate school and I was feeling really nervous about graduating and entering the job market again. My graduate work was in physiology, so this internship seemed like a great way to get hands-on experience and return to the field. I really love and ultimately wanted to pursue ecology. While I’ve had a slew of internship experiences regarding animals, I had really neglected plants and looked forward to learning more about them. I applied online and later earned the lead intern position.
What types of projects or programs were you involved with?
I was fortunate for being able to work on many different programs with Tidal Influence. One of my favorite programs was with Rosie the Riveter, where high school students came once a month to help us accomplish large-scale projects while learning new skills. I also had the privilege to work on a number of restoration projects around Long Beach as well as helping grow native plants in the nursery for future projects. I think that the program I enjoyed the most was giving tours of the Colorado Lagoon to elementary school students.
Environmentally, I did a lot of restoration in Long Beach, which was very special. Coming from Sacramento, it’s really shocking to see how very little wetlands are left in Long Beach. One striking project to me was the transformation of a barren moonscape to an area with thousands of native wetland plants.
If you could pass on any information to students interested in getting involved with the TI internship program, what would you tell them?
Dive in and say yes! One of the amazing things about Tidal Influence is how many programs are going on that you will have a chance to work on. If you can, say yes to the opportunities that present themselves. Through Tidal Influence you will have the opportunity to learn about plants of course, but also animals, the ecology of the area, about other local projects and programs, and you will meet tons of really amazing and inspiring people. You will also learn about things going on in your own community you had no idea even existed.
Tidal Influence alumni, Kelsey Condell, went on to work for California Department of Fish and Wildlife conducting important wildlife research. Read how Kelsey's experience with TI helped with her career path.
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