Dawn McCovey
Dawn McCovey
Wildlife Major
Internship:
National Science Foundation's Research Experience for Undergraduates
Organization:
Humboldt State University
Location:
Arcata, CA

Intern studies culturally significant acorn woodpecker

Dawn says …

Internship duties: I located 20 granaries (trees used by the acorn woodpecker for food storage) within a 12-mile radius. I measured the granary trees and recorded way points using GPS. Then, I measured 5 random trees near every granary to compare the selected granaries with random trees. The purpose of the study was to understand more about acorn woodpecker habitat for proper management as the bird is a culturally significant species on the Hoopa Valley Indian Reservation.

How I found my internship? I learned about this internship from a Wildlife faculty member who encouraged me to apply for the REU program.

Best thing about my internship? The internship gave me the chance to manage my own project; and with the help of my faculty mentor and supervisor, develop the skills to become more adept as a scientist. The opportunity also helped me to develop my communication and presentation skills before peers, faculty, and other scientists.

How my HSU education prepared me for this internship? My classes at HSU helped me learn to put together a scientific study, from its inception to a final paper. I also learned many wildlife field techniques in my classes. Learning to communicate was a big obstacle that I had to overcome, and I think that INRSEP helped me most with this. The program provided a home away from home for me, which gave me a level of comfort on campus to first build relationships at INRSEP, and then throughout campus.

Internship search advice? I would encourage students to be clear about what it is they want to do in a career and aspire to do something they are passionate about. I knew I wanted to do something to benefit my tribe, so that is where I focused my efforts.