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US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes

ARCTIC NWR: Student Career Experience Program matches SIU student with arctic ornithologists to conserve shorebirds

Region 7, October 6, 2012
Alfredo Soto and a herd of caribou, which were frequent visitors to the bird-study plots on the Arctic National wildlife Refuge.
Alfredo Soto and a herd of caribou, which were frequent visitors to the bird-study plots on the Arctic National wildlife Refuge. - Photo Credit: n/a
Alfredo Soto examines a lemming on the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Alfredo Soto examines a lemming on the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. - Photo Credit: n/a

The Cessna touched down on a frozen lake two miles from the Arctic Ocean. Inside were a pilot, two biological technicians, and a load of scientific equipment. Alfredo Soto, a zoology student from Southern Illinois University, emerged from the warm aircraft into the freezing temperatures and 40 MPH winds typical of the arctic coast in early June. Joining the rest of the crew, he set to the task of hauling gear off the lake to establish the camp that he called home for the next 6 weeks.

 

Several months earlier, Alfredo had been admitted into the Student Career Experience Program (SCEP), which matches promising students with Federal employment opportunities directly related to their career goals. Alfredo’s interest in wildlife biology led to a summer position at the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, studying imperiled shorebird populations as part of an international effort to conserve declining species. He worked alongside experienced ornithologists and became skilled at shorebird identification, banding, and sample collection.

Although initially unsure, Alfredo gained confidence and a deep appreciation for the arctic. He looks forward to returning to Alaska next summer to join another research expedition, and he plans to attend graduate school beginning in fall 2013.

Contact Info: David Payer, 907-455-1830, david_payer@fws.gov