My name is Beth Stevenson and I spent the summer of 2012 working as a biological science intern at Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge. I will be receiving my B.S. in Ecology and Evolution from the University of Maryland, College Park, and hope to continue pursuing my interests in wildlife ecology and management at the graduate level.
Prior to my arrival at Wallkill River NWR, I became interested in white-nose syndrome, a fungal disease that is causing devastating levels of mortality among bat populations on the east coast. Because the federally endangered Indiana bat has been documented on the refuge, an important portion of summer research effort includes monitoring of bat populations. I was able to gain valuable bat-related experience in mist netting, acoustic monitoring, and data management throughout the course of my internship. In addition, I also spent a significant amount of time conducting surveys for a number of plant and wildlife species, including turtles (bog and wood) and birds (upland, secretive marsh, and water species); managing for invasive plant species; waterfowl and dove banding; and radio telemetry of bats and turtles. Most of my duties this summer were biological; however, we often joined the non-biological staff in trail maintenance and public interactions.
Throughout the course of my summer at Wallkill River, I have come to learn how truly unique this refuge is. The hard working, yet family-like attitude of the staff at Wallkill promotes learning through experience and responsibility. I thoroughly enjoyed working with USFWS employees that were eager to share their experiences and to help me achieve my professional goals, both within the scope of this internship and beyond.