One of the most exciting opportunities we have being an intern is when you’re a level 2 intern or higher you get to work with a biologist at the Academy. I have the chance to work with Vicki McCloskey, a biologist who specializes in taking care for birds. Every Thursday and Friday, I meet my biologist at 7 o’clock in the morning. We walk over to the kitchen and get food for the birds in the rain forest, including the parrots, are in the rain forest and the raptors out in the east garden. Once we’ve collected all of our food we head over to the rainforest. Three different feeding stations have to be set up for the birds along with two feeding stations filled with nectar for the butterlfies. While we are doing all of this we have to keep a keen eye out and mark down all the birds we spot. There are over 30 birds in the rainforest and we have to eventually spot all of them. We mark down the birds we don’t see. After everything in the rain forest is taken care of, we head over to the raptors while being fully equipped with some tasty rodents. Once in the aviary with the three Turkey Vultures just roaming around, I have to clean the sleeping quarters of the loose feathers that might have fallen off during the night.
When I first received a letter in the mail saying that I had been accepted into the Intern Program at the Academy of Sciences about a month ago, I was very excited to start but didn’t really know what to expect. I knew there were times you worked on the public floor, there were trips, and trainings but that was about all. Now that I’ve been an intern for a little bit, I have a better perspective on things.
One of my favorite parts of being an intern is working on the Public floor, the reason I enjoy that so much is because you never know what to expect, you get all kinds of questions, all kinds of reactions, and each station that you work at is completely different. For example, at the Discovery Tide Pool sometimes you have to encourage people to try something new that they wouldn’t normally, but at the “Extreme Mammals” station, it is more about teaching people things they might not have known.
Being an intern, you learn a lot about a variety of topics. You learn about ways people learn (i.e visually, kinetically) because we have to adapt our teaching styles to fit the audience, you learn about different kinds of sciences at weekly trainings so that we can dabble in different fields of science and find what interests us. We also learn about working in a professional work environment and collaborating in a group while we learn, teach, and conduct science here at the Academy.
So far my experience as a new intern has been very enriching and it has only been a month, I can’t wait to see what else is to come in the future.
Working at the California Academy of Sciences, interns have learned a lot about a variety of things, including sustainibility. During one of their usual Monday trainings, they learned what sustanibility means, and how to be sustainable. After that, interns broke off into groups and brainstormed ideas as to how to be sustainable as a program. One idea that kept being brought up was “going paperless” which includes emailing forms electronically rather than using paper. Since then, interns have made many efforts to do so. For example, getting online statements instead of regular pay stubs, and filling out online black out forms. The benefit aside from saving paper is being able to check your earnings statements 24/7 and being more organized with black out forms that are used for scheduling. Other forms of going green that are easy for anyone to do include: getting reusable waterbottles (non-plastic), use public transportation or other earth-friendly methods of transportation, and just turning off lights and any electronics while not in use.
Last Monday, the interns received a presentation about the Acanthacea family better known as “Shrimp” plants. We learned that the characteristics of the Acanthacea family are:
• Leaves are opposite, estipulate
• Capusles with Retinacula
Tom Daniel also told us about the systematics of these plants and how he personally studies them. He creates whats called “Monographs”. Monographs are really detailed and consist of illustrations, descriptions, and identification keys. After Tom Daniel presentation we were able to do plant dissections. We reviewed the main parts of a flower (stamen, pistil, perianth, etc) and learned the functions of each. We sketched our plants and counted the number of stigma on each one and the number of petals. Later during the actual dissection we measured the length of pistil and the filament. The interns were excited for the dissection and a couple even took some flowers home. We are excited for our next Botany lesson!
The intern program recently lost a member of our family: Newtie, our Fire Bellied Newt. Due to the new workplace protocol, terrestrial animals were no longer allowed in open quarters; this meant our beloved amphibian of over 8 years was being evicted. Fortunately Newtie was only moved downstairs to the Early Explorers Cove Animal Room and is still available for us to bring out on the public floor. But all interns who knew him still felt their hearts drop a little at the sight of the empty desk space where Newtie once resided. However, instead of seeing this as a moment of grief, I saw it as a great opportunity to set up an aquarium for the intern program. Using resources I already had at home from keeping personal aquariums, the intern fish tank was almost free of charge. Our 10 gallon aquarium houses 8 Tiger Barbs (Puntius tetrazona) who like to shoal under the driftwood rifts and dart between freshwater plants generously donated to us by Steinhart biologist Brooke Weinstein. Though only in its early stages, our fish tank seems to be doing well and the future for our aquatic pals is looking great!
The week of New Intern Orientation, or the first week of the summer semester, is not only exciting for the new interns, but for the “seasoned” interns as well. The whole week was filled with engaging trainings for all of us ranging from field work to even the Academy’s history.
The next training day was all about science in general and conducting science. It started with a training led by Eric, Careers in Science Manager, who taught us all about science- what it is and how it is executed -to introduce everybody to the concept of “conducting science” and the multiple processes within. Our definition of science is “the process through which knowledge of the natural world is built, and and also the knowledge itself. Science relies on the testing of ideas with empirical evidence gathered form the natural world.”
A vital part of “conducting science” is taking field notes so Jack Dumbacher, Chairman and Assistant Curator of the Department of Ornithology and Mammalogy, generously come in to talk to us about taking field notes and the importance of it. We ended the day about field work and conducting science by actually going out to do some field work, we monitor Pacific Mole crabs (sp. Emerita analoga) down in Ocean Beach.
The third training day was all about Invertebrate Zoology. Maya Walton, assistant manager of the program revealed the newly completed outreach station called Human Impacts on Corals. Interns Jasmine, Dina, and Noelani taught the station to us the same way they would teach the middle school students, so we can get a feel of how the station works.
All in all we were super excited to start working with these twelve new interns and are ecstatic to start the year with such great training topics.
Interviews are a normally a daunting and unpleasant process, but for me, interviews mark the start of my next step in the program. As a new level 2 intern, I have the opportunity to participate in the hiring process of the next year’s group of interns. Since the intern program started in 1996, interns have had the privilege of taking up major roles in the hiring process. Participating in the interviews takes stress away from the Managers because they have extra help. During the application process, the level 2 and up interns interview these applicants for two rounds of interviews. The interns have an opportunity to place their own ideas on the table and influence the decision in selecting the person that is most suitable for this internship.
My favorite part about working at the Academy is getting to go on the public floor at the demonstration stations. We have several stations that teach the public about different topics like; limb homology, penguins, extreme mammals, and discovery tide pool. It’s great to interact with people and talk about those different things. Also, it’s wonderful when I tell kids about cool facts and their faces light up with astonishment. They then start to talk about what they’ve learned in school and places they’ve gone to. I feel like I’ve accomplished something when I teach someone new information that they didn’t know before, plus I learn something new every time I come to work and I enjoy that. It’s rewarding to get to meet different people who come and visit the Academy. The conversation and topics vary on the age group that come and see the station when we interact with people of all ages.
I had no idea lions once roamed California! The new Extreme Mammals demo station that showcases skulls from extreme mammals that once lived in California was created by some of our interns and is the most interesting station in recent years. It has replicas, interesting facts, and staggering theories that would make you want to take a second look at our endangered and threatened species.
We had this cart for 3 weeks and we are pleased with the reactions we get from the museum visitors. They are so intrigued by this fascinating topic which includes information about the height of these mammals, the time they lived, when they became extinct, and theories about why they did. We cannot get enough of how children watch in amazement as the skulls on our cart roll past them and they tug on their parents clothing for them to come look.
The interactive games created by interns at the station are geared to make a fun learning environment for children and adults alike. This reassures that when we collaborate together, we are capable of pulling all ages into the world of science. The Extreme Mammals cart; the craze sweeping the public floor and the new addition to a long line of intern demonstration stations.
Every year, three men and three women from around the world are honored for their outstanding work in the field of environmental justice and conservation at the Goldman Environmental Awards. Last training, the interns were in attendance at this prestigious event, and this was not the first time. Over the years, the intern program has been invited several times, along with other youth groups to attend the Goldman Awards.
Being a program that specializes in training youth for science careers, the CiS program felt right at home amongst all of these hard-working, successful conservationists. Many of the interns felt personally inspired by the accomplishments of this wide group of honorees. Just as the intern program represents a diverse group of youth, the recipients of the Goldman Award represent a diverse group of conservationists.
The successes of the Goldman winners were varied and awe-inspiring. From Randall Arauz’s campaign of halting Shark fin removal in his home country of Costa Rica to Malgorzata Gorska’s legal battle of stopping a highway project through an untouched forest.
With such achievement from these worthy role-models, who knows what the interns will be spurred on to do in the future?