Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
ANCHORAGE: The Student Temporary Employment Program (STEP) Creates Opportunities for Students
Alaska Region, December 6, 2011
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Data from photos like these were a key part of the GLORIA data set
Data from photos like these were a key part of the GLORIA data set - Photo Credit: Steven Talbot
Aerial Moose Survey at Alaska Peninsula/Becharof National Wildlife Refuges
Aerial Moose Survey at Alaska Peninsula/Becharof National Wildlife Refuges - Photo Credit: Chelsy Passmore

The Student Temporary Employment Program (STEP) is an exciting program that hires college students interested in careers in wildlife conservation. I have been program benefits firsthand. 

The STEP program offers the flexibility to gain career experience while attending school; a critical asset in a competitive job market. I began my career with USFWS entering botany field data for the Global Observation Research Initiative in Alpine Environments (GLORIA) project. The GLORIA project is a worldwide initiative to monitor climate change in alpine environments through vegetation, and the data I entered was uploaded to a global database for comparison to other nations’ data.

Next, I was presented with the opportunity to work with the Water Resources Branch where I currently enter and check hydrological data, organize and digitize files, and assist with preparations for field research. This work supports research and protection of water through instream plan reservations for fish and wildlife habitat and populations throughout Alaska refuges, while allowing me to accumulate valuable data management skills.

My objective is to work towards a career as a pilot biologist, in a position that challenges my education and experience. Pilot biology is a specialty in which field experience is often difficult to acquire. My supervisors have been very supportive of my education and career development. They consistently urge me to attend trainings that will help further my career and have arranged opportunities to experience a variety of projects including a trip to assist in an aerial moose tracking survey in King Salmon, and to participate in Camp Shriver’s Special Olympics Fishing Kids Fishing Day. In addition, I was encouraged to participate in field trainings such as bear and firearm safety, wilderness first aid, and aircraft ditching and survival training. Experiences and training like these teach me to be a more insightful and multifaceted biologist, and have been invaluable to my education allowing me to learn about this specialty as an undergraduate. Some of my most important advisors are not faculty at my university, but instead are coworkers and supervisors who want to see me succeed. My time with this program will have a profound and lasting impression on both my personal life and my career, and I am incredibly thankful for the opportunities.

Contact Info: Chelsy Passmore, 907.786.3457, Chelsy_Passmore@fws.gov
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