2017 College Internship in Suburban Ecology students wrap up at Mianus River Gorge
Each summer, Mianus River Gorge offers a highly sought-after internship for undergraduate college students with an interest in ecology. Under the tutelage of MRG staff scientists and graduate research assistants, the interns contribute to the Gorge’s on-going research in and around the Preserve.
This year, four students were selected among a pool of talented applicants from colleges across the country. Mianus River Gorge hosted Morgan Berman of Tufts University, Veronica Berger, also of Tufts University, Maria Juran of Yale University, and Brandon Shea of SUNY ESF.
Mianus River Gorge is engaged in several research initiatives and on-going stewardship of the Preserve and its environs.
For example, the students assisted Chris Nagy and Budd Veverka with camera trap deployment for the Gotham Coyote Project and Exurban/Suburban Black Bear Occurrence and Activity project. On rainy days, they helped with data entry for camera trap studies that consisted of recording the following metadata from each photograph: what species was observed, which camera took the photo, and where and when the photo occurred. MRG partners with scientists from other organizations throughout the region to share data, develop best practices, and address fundamental questions about how wildlife adapts (or fails to adapt) to urbanization.
At the beginning of the summer, the students assisted new RAP student Zach Gajewski, our Ph.D. student from Virginia Tech. The interns, along with WTP high school student Will Cranier, helped Zach with his research on the distribution of the pathogenic chytrid fungus that affects frogs and other amphibians (they especially enjoying helping him catch frogs).
The college students also worked on Source to Sound (Phase II), an initiative funded by Westchester Community Foundation and Patagonia. The Mianus River Watershed comprises over 30 major wetlands, each with a varying level of health and functionality. In Phase II of this project, MRG is completing the assessment of the individual wetlands within the lower watershed after having undertaken the assessment of the wetlands in the upper watershed last year. After on-the-ground visits to note visible threats, the interns learned how scientists use a unique computer model to evaluate the functions and values provided by a wetland.
Stewardship was a major focus of the students’ internship this summer. They helped remove invasive weeds and vines; helped erect a deer exclosure; pitched in during the River Clean-Up; and helped with trail maintenance. They got dirty and sweaty but remained cheerful and enthusiastic contributors to our efforts to take care of the Preserve.
Mianus River Gorge’s Research & Education program is the bellwether for like-minded organizations in the region. Students get a hands-on ecology research experience, meaningful field experience, learn best practices in data collection, interpretation and presentation, and better understand the path for further study or a career in the sciences.
MRG raises funds to pay the college interns a very modest stipend. If you would like to donate to the Research & Education program and help support an intern, please visit our donation page. Thank you!