During February vacation, Maine Audubon staff were joined by two high school interns from Casco Bay High School in Portland. Elinor and Gabi shadowed Maine Audubon staff at Gilsland Farm and in Augusta, asked great questions, and made some valuable contributions to our work.
Here are their thoughts on their internship experience:
My name is Elinor Tierney-Fife. I am an eleventh grader at Casco Bay High School. I live in Portland, Maine with my parents, two sisters, and three cats.
Some of my fondest memories from my childhood are of me and my family walking along the beautiful trails of Maine Audubon, listening to birds sing in the trees, and watching little chipmunks scamper in the bushes (and applying copious amounts of sunscreen). Growing up surrounded by the natural beauty of Maine has inspired me to look at a career in wildlife conservation biology so that I can help support and preserve the things I love best about Maine.
In the past, my main environmentally-conscious actions have been simple things, like picking up litter at the beach and staying on the trails while hiking. My week interning at Maine Audubon has motivated me to get active and do more to help the environment. This week, my friend Gabi and I wrote out simple directions for volunteers using the app iNaturalist for a turtle roadkill survey, which will try to identify high-risk stretches of road by looking for pieces of turtle shells. Discovering these citizen science opportunities, Maine Audubon projects, and even just using the iNaturalist app has led me to plan on getting more involved in volunteer conservation in the future, through Maine Audubon and other organizations. Meanwhile, I’m telling everyone I know about the plight of rare and endangered turtles crossing the road!
As well as learning more about citizen science, this week we had the opportunity to go to the State House with Eliza Donoghue, Maine Audubon’s staff advocate, and sit in on a public hearing about the infamous bill introduced to impose a surcharge on hybrid and electric vehicles in place of the gasoline tax. Seeing so many members of the public get up at that hearing and disparage the unfair bill as economically inequitable and potentially causing serious environmental consequences made me realize how important it is for citizens to get involved with public policy surrounding environmental issues, because we can make a difference. My time here at Maine Audubon has not only taught me about conservation opportunities I hadn’t thought of before. It has also inspired me to look for more opportunities to work in citizen science and even public policy in the future.
My name is Gabrielle Dumas. I was born in Fairbanks, Alaska, and moved to Peaks Island, Maine, as a young child. I attend Casco Bay High School and I am currently a Junior. I will be in the graduating class of 2019. I in my free time I enjoy being outdoors, going on walks, and making visual art. In the summers I spend my time back in Fairbanks, hiking and camping with my father. In the future I hope to go into a career that allows me to spend my time outside and contribute to the protection of wildlife.
Ever since I was a child I have been interested in preserving and helping wildlife. When my parents would take me out on walks and hikes I would always be fascinated with the life around me. On our rainy day walks, I would become fixated on rescuing worms from puddles. As I got older I continued to build my desire to help the creatures.
On more than one occasion my mother and I would find injured birds. We would do everything we could to bring it to the appropriate place of care. I was always interested in being able to prevent that harm and help in anyway I could. I was drawn to Maine Audubon due to our shared goals to help prevent and alleviate the struggles of wildlife. My friend Elinor, who also shares interests, and I reached out to them and they gave us the opportunity to spend a week interning with them.
Over the course of the week, I have gotten a taste of what it takes to help Maine’s wildlife. Through meeting the staff to traveling to the state house in Augusta, I learned about the work required to manage and allow their projects to come into fruition. On my first day of the internship I had little knowledge of the work and people involved in operating Maine Audubon. I began the day with introductions to the staff and learned about their jobs and projects they were working on.
It was truly inspirational. The group of people that work there are enthusiastic about what they do — not to mention they’ve devoted their lives to bettering the world. They educated us on the struggles that wildlife in Maine are facing. In addition, they introduced me to new issues like turtle roadkill and Piping Plover disruption that I had never considered.
Elinor and I worked on helping them with their turtle roadkill survey project, delving into the details on its impacts. We were also tasked with creating a “How to” guide for the iNaturalist app for future volunteers, teaching me how to use this fantastic resource for sharing observations on wildlife. We traveled with Eliza Donoghue to the State House in Augusta and experienced the political side of Maine Audubon’s work.
As the week progressed and I gained more knowledge on Maine Audubon’s projects, my desire to contribute grew. Even from this short time and limited work I have had during my internship, they built off of my younger self’s passion, allowing me to see that this type of work is something that I want to pursue further. I look forward to future opportunities to continue working with Maine Audubon.