Chapters & Centers

Audubon Chapter Interns Lead the Way

Despite COVID, many chapters found ways to engage students in meaningful internships in 2021.

Audubon Florida chapters are all about getting things done. Despite COVID-19, many chapters found ways to engage students in meaningful internships in the 2021 fiscal year.

Alachua Audubon Society annually hires several interns who receive scholarships in exchange for their hard work, including an opportunity at the Prairie Creek Banding Lab. Established in 2019 in partnership with the Alachua Conservation Trust and the University of Florida, the banding lab engages interns in hands-on training alongside conservation professionals. Through mist-netting, students learn how to identify birds and gain a better understanding of how birds rely on the diverse habitats in the region. Students also pick up valuable extraction and banding experience, which are incredibly important assets for any new graduate in the field of biology, while providing critical data toward land conservation and management.

Inspired by other chapters, Manatee County Audubon Society recruited five interns in 2021 to help with a variety of ongoing and upcoming projects, including the implementation of the habitat management plan on Felts Preserve. Located in Palmetto, Felts is a 28-acre preserve that has been owned by the Manatee County Audubon Society since 2002. With a variety of habitats, it hosts as many as 174 year-round and migratory bird species. Students are also invited to engage in Manatee’s Audubon Adventures, Colony Watch, and Climate Change Advocacy programs.

Veronica Simeoni interned with Alachua Audubon Society for two semesters and says she has become more appreciative of the diversity of migratory and resident birds in Alachua County. “I’ve never had a position where I’m surrounded by so many like-minded individuals. What unites us is this fondness for not only birds but wildlife as a whole,” she explains.

Chloe Arbogast assisted with American Kestrel nest box monitoring at the banding lab during her internship with Alachua Audubon Society. “It was breathtaking seeing such elusive birds up close. I was impressed with how many kestrels were using the man-made nest boxes. There were a couple of nests with five speckled eggs! I found it a huge success for wildlife conservation and an interesting management strategy.” She is inspired to use these techniques in future research efforts and plans to pursue a master’s degree.

Grayson Koch loved learning to band birds as an Alachua Audubon Society intern. “Learning how to extract birds from mist nets was well worth all the cardinal bites and stressful mornings when the weather is below 40 degrees and not a second can be wasted to ensure the birds keep their energy,” he says.

Shivam Shukla is a Tampa native who initially enrolled at the University of Maryland, College Park to study computer science. However, they realized that their true passion was the environment, and transferred to the University of South Florida, applied for the Manatee County Audubon Society’s internship program, and became engaged in wading bird conservation through Colony Watch. Shivam plans to graduate in the coming year with an environmental science degree.

At Audubon of Martin County, an internship invites students to create and assist in the delivery of education programs for the community. Rachel Allison led nature walks at Possum Long Nature Center, aided in administrative tasks in the office, set up an informational table on native birds at the Blake Library, and just finalized a PowerPoint presentation on climate change and bird migration that the chapter will use in the fall. 

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