Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
BAY-DELTA FWO: SCEP Students Hone their Wildlife Chops in California’s State Capitol
California-Nevada Offices , August 28, 2012
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Maria Rabot, left, and Katherine Sun, are the first SCEP students at the Bay-Delta FWO, which is located a few blocks from California's State Capitol in Sacramento.
Maria Rabot, left, and Katherine Sun, are the first SCEP students at the Bay-Delta FWO, which is located a few blocks from California's State Capitol in Sacramento. - Photo Credit: Steve Martarano/Bay-Delta FWO

By Steve Martarano, Bay-Delta FWO Public Affairs Specialist

Student Career Experience Program (SCEP) participants Maria Rabot and Katherine Sun wanted to get their hands dirty this summer, and that’s exactly what they did while living and working in California’s State Capitol.

The two college students represented different regions of the country when they arrived at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (Service) Bay-Delta Fish and Wildlife Office (FWO) in Sacramento – located just a few blocks from the State Capitol Building. But both found their days with the 3-year-old office packed with the hands-on action they sought. They were Bay-Delta FWO’s first SCEP interns.

“The field work was a big change from our normal office days, but it was a welcome one,” said Sun, who just finished her third year in Environment Science and Management, with a minor in Psychology, at nearby UC Davis. “I had a lot of fun and gained plenty of hands-on experience that can't be learned from a piece of paper. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then field experience must be worth a million!”

Rabot had a little longer distance to travel than her counterpart, coming from Brigham Young University in Utah, where as a junior she is studying Wildlife and Wildlands Conservation, with a minor in Geographic Information Systems, commonly known as GIS. Rabot is from Beaverton, Oregon, and she carries a legacy – her mother Terry Rabot has worked for the Service for more than 30 years.

“My brother and I always grew up outdoors, hiking, fishing, and birding,” she said. “Because of my exposure to the Service through my mom, I felt that the Service stands for the same principles that I do – smart conservation of our natural resources and species which give our nation its identity. The SCEP program seemed like the perfect opportunity to gain some experience, while "test driving" my career aspirations.”

Once they arrived in Sacramento, Katherine and Maria, who will both return in 2013, quickly fit right in among the diverse Bay-Delta FWO staff of about 35. The office, part of the Pacific Southwest Region – also located in Sacramento – was formed in 2009 to focus on conservation issues related to the increasingly vital Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta region, and the pair got out into the field on a regular basis, visiting other offices, local wildlife refuges, and fish hatcheries. They had the opportunity to band birds, get on a boat with the Stockton FWO and spend a day seining in the Delta, while spending another day doing the Chipps Island Midwater Trawl. It was the first time for both doing field biology with fish, and they even got to experience their first delta smelt, which is the unofficial species of the Bay-Delta FWO.

In addition to the field work, they both worked on significant projects within the office. Katherine’s priority project was to organize the countless references used by the office into a coherent user-friendly system. Maria’s main project consisted of creating a new Bay-Delta FWO jurisdictional map that will be used for internal purposes. A finished product will go on the office's website.

“We really tried to create a positive summer experience that exposed them to many of the programs within the Service; not just our office,” said Bay-Delta FWO Assistant Field Supervisor Kim S. Turner, who coordinates the SCEP for the office.

Contact Info: Steve Martarano, 916-930-5643, steve_martarano@fws.gov
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