Life in the Field

Blog

	
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Name: Casandra Brocksmith
Off-Campus Study Program & Location: The School for Field Studies (SFS) Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI)

What did you study while off-campus?  Marine Resource Management

How did you connect with your community off-campus?  SFS did a great job connecting us to the community during our time spent there.  Three days a week we were working with the community.  On Wednesdays we would travel to the local elementary school and help with an activity of our choice (PE class, in-class work, etc.)  Then on Saturdays the local community kids would come to our center and we would provide them with educational games and activities.  The focus of these activities was to educate the kids on the resources around them and how to appreciate and improve the conditions in their community.  On a weekend day we were placed with a family in the community who needed some kind of assistance, whether that be with their kids or to sit and spend time with an elderly woman.  My placement was to sit and spend time with the oldest lady on the island, who was 100 years old and still lived by herself.  Since South Caicos was a small island, the whole community really valued personal relationships and getting to know everyone who inhabited the island.

As far as field research, we were constantly out in the field.  I took many of my exams out in the ocean on waterproof slate.  The program really emphasized the field research aspect and we were constantly out and about doing hands-on learning/research.



What was your most memorable experience?  Wow, I would say it would be impossible to narrow it down to one specific experience.  I was lucky enough to have countless memorable experiences while abroad, but I will pick out one of my many favorites.  On Wednesdays and Saturdays we would go scuba diving in the mornings.  This gave us the opportunity for us to get a better look at all the different environments we were learning about in our classes.  It was always incredible, but this specific dive trumped the rest.  I descended 100 feet underwater that day with some of the best friends I have ever had (people I met on this program) and when we got to our depth I saw some of the coolest things.  We saw a few sharks on the dive, a pod of dolphins swam by, and a friendly little sea turtle was checking our group out.  I was ecstatic.  After ascending to the top and getting back on the boat we were all smiling ear to ear and couldn’t believe it.  A few moments later one of our professors pointed and exclaimed loudly, a migrating humpback whale and her baby were breaching in front of our boat.  The spring is the season when the whales and their new babies make the journey past South Caicos and up to Cape Cod.  Hands down the coolest day of my life.  We were all crying happy tears only because of all the amazing things we had just seen in such a beautiful place.



What were you most apprehensive about with your off-campus study experience and how did you overcome it?  I was most apprehensive about being so far away from home for that long of a period of time.  I would not consider myself a huge homebody necessarily, but I had still not spent more than a month away from my family and definitely had never been 1,533 miles away.  The program was really conscience of this transition for us and was very helpful.  One of the first nights they spoke to us about how we would work through them.  Our student mentor met with us one-on-one as well just to talk to us individually and to address any concerns we may have had.  SFS keeps you so busy and you’re constantly learning about and doing amazing things, so I didn’t even have time to feel apprehensive about being away for that long of a time.  We were really submerged in the program and the community and I was having the time of my life.  It honestly flew by and by the time it was ready to go home I was more apprehensive about leaving to go home than I was to move away from home for studying abroad.



How has off-campus study impacted your long-term plans, professionally or academically?  People say studying abroad changes your life and you truly do not understand it until you experience it yourself.  I grew in many different areas: personally, academically, professionally, and interculturally.  This program specifically challenges you in many of these areas, but this results in great growth.  I learned more about myself in that one semester than any other semester thus far.  This came from all the new learning experiences I had in this completely different culture.  Luckily for me, I gained 3 credits while abroad and 2 of them went toward my Biology major.  These classes were very difficult, but SFS is a hands-on program and everything is very applicable, which made it more desirable to learn about.  I learned a better studying technique as well as how to apply the material I was learning to bigger pictures.

SFS also sets you up very well professionally.  I had to write my first scientific paper based on my own personal research.  The professors at my program were from all around the world like Ireland and England and they all had pursued Ph.D. s in the areas of study.  They provided us with a Q-and-A night and answered any questions we had about our next steps after college and offered to connect us with people who may be of help for us.  The opportunities and growth I have and will continue to have as an SFS alum are endless.


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Name: Casandra Brocksmith
Off-Campus Study Program & Location: The School for Field Studies (SFS) Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI)

What did you study while off-campus?  Marine Resource Management

How did you connect with your community off-campus?  SFS did a great job connecting us to the community during our time spent there.  Three days a week we were working with the community.  On Wednesdays we would travel to the local elementary school and help with an activity of our choice (PE class, in-class work, etc.)  Then on Saturdays the local community kids would come to our center and we would provide them with educational games and activities.  The focus of these activities was to educate the kids on the resources around them and how to appreciate and improve the conditions in their community.  On a weekend day we were placed with a family in the community who needed some kind of assistance, whether that be with their kids or to sit and spend time with an elderly woman.  My placement was to sit and spend time with the oldest lady on the island, who was 100 years old and still lived by herself.  Since South Caicos was a small island, the whole community really valued personal relationships and getting to know everyone who inhabited the island.

As far as field research, we were constantly out in the field.  I took many of my exams out in the ocean on waterproof slate.  The program really emphasized the field research aspect and we were constantly out and about doing hands-on learning/research.



What was your most memorable experience?  Wow, I would say it would be impossible to narrow it down to one specific experience.  I was lucky enough to have countless memorable experiences while abroad, but I will pick out one of my many favorites.  On Wednesdays and Saturdays we would go scuba diving in the mornings.  This gave us the opportunity for us to get a better look at all the different environments we were learning about in our classes.  It was always incredible, but this specific dive trumped the rest.  I descended 100 feet underwater that day with some of the best friends I have ever had (people I met on this program) and when we got to our depth I saw some of the coolest things.  We saw a few sharks on the dive, a pod of dolphins swam by, and a friendly little sea turtle was checking our group out.  I was ecstatic.  After ascending to the top and getting back on the boat we were all smiling ear to ear and couldn’t believe it.  A few moments later one of our professors pointed and exclaimed loudly, a migrating humpback whale and her baby were breaching in front of our boat.  The spring is the season when the whales and their new babies make the journey past South Caicos and up to Cape Cod.  Hands down the coolest day of my life.  We were all crying happy tears only because of all the amazing things we had just seen in such a beautiful place.



What were you most apprehensive about with your off-campus study experience and how did you overcome it?  I was most apprehensive about being so far away from home for that long of a period of time.  I would not consider myself a huge homebody necessarily, but I had still not spent more than a month away from my family and definitely had never been 1,533 miles away.  The program was really conscience of this transition for us and was very helpful.  One of the first nights they spoke to us about how we would work through them.  Our student mentor met with us one-on-one as well just to talk to us individually and to address any concerns we may have had.  SFS keeps you so busy and you’re constantly learning about and doing amazing things, so I didn’t even have time to feel apprehensive about being away for that long of a time.  We were really submerged in the program and the community and I was having the time of my life.  It honestly flew by and by the time it was ready to go home I was more apprehensive about leaving to go home than I was to move away from home for studying abroad.



How has off-campus study impacted your long-term plans, professionally or academically?  People say studying abroad changes your life and you truly do not understand it until you experience it yourself.  I grew in many different areas: personally, academically, professionally, and interculturally.  This program specifically challenges you in many of these areas, but this results in great growth.  I learned more about myself in that one semester than any other semester thus far.  This came from all the new learning experiences I had in this completely different culture.  Luckily for me, I gained 3 credits while abroad and 2 of them went toward my Biology major.  These classes were very difficult, but SFS is a hands-on program and everything is very applicable, which made it more desirable to learn about.  I learned a better studying technique as well as how to apply the material I was learning to bigger pictures.

SFS also sets you up very well professionally.  I had to write my first scientific paper based on my own personal research.  The professors at my program were from all around the world like Ireland and England and they all had pursued Ph.D. s in the areas of study.  They provided us with a Q-and-A night and answered any questions we had about our next steps after college and offered to connect us with people who may be of help for us.  The opportunities and growth I have and will continue to have as an SFS alum are endless.


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                            [sub_header] => Off-Campus Study Profile: Casandra Brocksmith
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Name: Beth Alberts
Education: University of California Berkeley, A.B. in Biochemistry; Stanford University, M.A. in Education and Teaching Credential; Alliant International University, M.A. in School Counseling
SFS Program: Ecuador Summer 1988 - Jatun Sacha Biological Center (Ethnobotanical Studies)
Profession: Science Teacher and College Counselor

Why did you choose SFS as a study abroad program?
It seems like a million years ago but I still remember clearly why I chose SFS. I wanted an adventure. I had been a serious and focused student throughout my life. I wanted to try something completely different and a little bit scary. At SFS, I was still serious and focused but I was also in the Amazonian Rain Forest! Coming from San Francisco, that seemed just about as adventurous as life could get for a inner city kid. 

At the time, I thought I was very, very brave. And it was different back then. I was literally cut off from contact with everyone I knew in the world. There were no phones, no computers, no fax machines, no connectivity. There were old-fashioned letters. But “after having seen the only town in the area, I have lost all faith in any mail getting home.” I was isolated and remote from everything I knew. And it was exactly what I wanted. As a result, I gained confidence in myself and an abiding trust in humanity. I have retained this trust throughout my life.

What did you gain from your SFS experience?
I developed a love for Ecuador and its people, and with that came the much broader appreciation for the wisdom and knowledge of cultures throughout the world. Our human experience is incredibly diverse and amazing. There is always more to learn and there are so many brilliant teachers. I still carry many of them with me: Jaime who taught us about forest regeneration and the interdependence of jungle species. He was the coolest! Rocio who taught us about the foods, medicines and spiritual life of the local community. She read my palm and predicted my future. David who taught us how to run controlled experiments with little ”real” equipment and massive environmental factors that were always working against us - the heat, the mud, the wind, the rain, the mold! Alejandro, who taught us to look for signs of the big dangerous snakes when we were out in the field and painted us with achiote to honor and protect us. He lived in a house on stilts with no walls in the middle of paradise. These are only a few of the people who taught me and impressed me.

My fellow students from the United States were also amazing. I met adventurous, smart people from all over the country and from all different U.S. cultures.

What is your most profound or lasting memory from your SFS program?
(See above. Really it was the people!) But my most lasting and impactful science memory was that my experiments were all INCONCLUSIVE! This created a paradigm shift for me. After all those years of reading about successful experiment after successful experiment that led ‘seamlessly’ to our current scientific dogma and after all those high school and college labs that ‘worked’, I realized that the MAJORITY of SCIENCE EXPERIMENTS are FAILURES!

I spent countless hours, trying to figure out why there was no plant growth at the base of the Piperacea trees in the forest. I ran controlled experiment, after controlled experiment carefully testing the different possibilities. Nothing, nothing and nothing. I didn’t make any great discovery or even gain any insight into the question. I was seriously disappointed.

Now, I very consciously teach my own students that failed experiments are normal and expected. Successful experiments are rare. I challenge the science history found in textbooks. My students do ‘real’ experiments in my classes. They fail. They are inconclusive. But they always learn something. The focus becomes what next? What can we improve to make this experiment better? Scientific thinking is the basis for all my teaching. Experiencing real science is the thing I plan for. It is what engages my students as active learners.

What advice would you give to a prospective SFS student?
Go for it! Be scared, be nervous, be apprehensive but do it anyway. Your limits will be tested. You will look back and realize that those were some of the most fulfilling times in your life.

What do you do for work?
I am a science teacher and a college counselor in the public school system. Every day, I work with high school students from varied backgrounds. I get to help them learn academically and plan for their futures. My job entails a lot of prepping, logistics, communication, love, support, patience, dedication and belief in the future. It also requires collaboration with other education professionals and community organizations. Everyday, there are hundreds of things that come at me that I have to deal with. I have to keep a class of 35 students engaged and on task, as I mull over what to do about a student who is in an inappropriate foster care situation. I have to respond to anxious parents as I write letters of recommendation for their children and collect data for the principal to take to the board meeting. I have to monitor the academic progress of my students who may not graduate, contact the Special Education teacher and grade yesterday’s science labs. Oh - and I have to pick up Elodea, crickets and soil for the lab rotations on Monday!

Most recently, I was hired to revise the remedial science curriculum for our school district. Students who fail science classes must take credit recovery classes after school, on Saturdays or in dreaded summer school. In the past, most of these “science” classes were textbook and worksheet-based. They were dreary and not very educational. You could hardly call them science classes. I had a budget and the freedom to redesign and implement a new curriculum. Now, these classes are hands-on, inquiry-based and student-centered. The teachers enjoy teaching the curriculum and the students prefer the active learning - even if they still have to go to summer school.

Did your SFS experience contribute to where you ended up?
The SFS experience absolutely enriched my abilities to be an effective science teacher and contributed to where I ended up. I was exposed to teachers and students who were working off the grid, in the field. They were gritty and resourceful, engaged and curious. I wanted to bring that energy, determination and resourcefulness back to San Francisco for city kids to experience.

What advice do you have for other SFS alumni looking to get into your field?
Teaching is the most important job in the world and it is the most difficult job in the world. Teacher burnout is brutal and destructive to our society. Teachers need to be paid much, much more and the workload needs to be reduced. Most people can not financially afford to be teachers anymore and most drop out after a few short years of teaching. You can plan on that or you can commit to the long haul and make it work for you. If you are a science teacher, you have a great value to school communities. Figure out how to maximize your value. In order to remain a science teacher, I have had to negotiate and redefine myself to make it work for me. Otherwise, I would have dropped out a long time ago too. Find the right school community to work in. Look for collaborative, supportive, joyful learning environments. Find excellent mentor teachers and administrators who value teachers more than politics. Stay tough and stay gritty. Always bring love to the job!
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                                    [post_date] => 2012-06-08 09:35:16
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                                    [post_content] => Becky Halvorsen, SFS East Africa Fall ’10, has a thrilling story about camping in the Serengeti:

“One of the night guards, named Askari Bora, spoke hardly any English but he made fantastic animal noises,” she said. “He did a particularly awesome hyena impression. ‘Fisi hehehehehehe, Askari Bora BAM BAM BAM,’ he would say, while pantomiming thwacking a hyena with his club. During the middle of the night I woke up to that cackling hyena noise. All I could think was, 'Askari Bora, it is the middle of the night, why are you making animal noises outside our tent?' Then I heard a roar and I realized that wasn't a human making those noises! When we got up in the morning we were told that lions had killed a zebra on one side of camp and the hyenas on the other side were trying to steal their kill. We were in the middle of a battle for dinner! It made me appreciate our night guards all the more.”

This was exactly what she had signed on for. When she chose SFS Kenya/Tanzania over other study abroad programs, she was hoping for close encounters with the beautiful and unique animals of the savanna – elephants, lions, wildebeest, hyenas, zebras, giraffes, hippos, and more.

However, she was also seeking an experience that would go beyond any sort of typical safari tourist experience. “I wanted to be working and living with the local people,” she said.



Becky’s semester in Kenya and Tanzania provided her with opportunities to get to know some of the Maasai villagers, including a day-long homestay with a local family. “I spent the morning playing with a little four year old girl. We played head-shoulders-knees-and-toes in Swahili, we drew in the dirt, and we played other games common with little kids at home. When we were walking to the river to get water, she held my hand. At one point, her little brother came up a tried to take my other hand. She stopped him and redirected him to Kate, the other SFS student, with a comment that I could not quite understand, but the gist of it was: this is my mzungu, or white person, you can have that one.”

“I ended up falling in love with the people there,” said Becky. “It was one of the experiences that helped me make up my mind about pursuing a career in medicine.”

This July, Becky is returning to Kenya with SFS to participate in the field practicum in public health and environment. She is looking forward to spending more time focusing on the environmental issues that affect the health of rural Kenyan communities, like access to clean water and quality health services.

After the program, she will spend six months volunteering with Nyumbani Village, a self-sustained community that pairs orphans and elders who have lost their families to the HIV pandemic. “It will be another life changing experience and I think I will come out of it feeling more prepared to conquer even bigger goals, including medical school, which I will start in the fall,” she said.

Good luck, Becky, with all your future adventures!
                                    [post_title] => Alumni Profile: Becky Halvorsen
                                    [post_excerpt] => Becky Halvorsen has a thrilling story about camping in the Serengeti.
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                                    [post_date] => 2012-07-13 09:15:57
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                                    [post_content] => As I filled out my immigration form, I realized that I didn’t have the address. Crap. I remembered my passport, snorkel gear, bathing suit, AAA batteries for the site manager, espresso roast coffee for the environmental policy professor, but I forgot to get the address for the Center. I scribbled down “South Caicos” and hoped that the agent would not ask too many questions.

When it was my turn, I walked up to the counter and presented my papers. “You are going to South Caicos?” the uniformed border agent asked.

“Yes,” I replied.

“With The School for Field Studies?” he asked.

“Yes.”

“Okay, go ahead,” he said, waiving me through.



Whew! I was glad they know us at the airport. I walked through Provo’s small airport and into Gillie’s restaurant. I ordered a cold red Gatorade and watched CNN on the television. Obama’s healthcare law had been upheld by the Supreme Court by a narrow margin. Sitting in this Caribbean café, The US seemed very far away.

Sanjay Gupta was describing the verdict and its implications for health care in the states, but I hurried along to catch my flight on TCI Air. It was a small propeller jet with only eight seats, but we cruised along with few bumps over the azure water.

At the South Caicos airport, Center Director Heidi Hertler picked me up in the passenger van. It was bigger than my airplane. Heidi not only runs our Marine Resource Studies program in the Turks and Caicos Islands, but she is also an alumna herself, having participated in an SFS program in the Virgin Islands in 1987.

“It changed my life,” she said. Before her SFS experience, Heidi was pre-med at Bates College. After diving and studying marine life for a summer session, she made a swift shift in her career path to oceanography and environmental studies.

I arrived at the field station, and my mouth dropped open. It is perched up on a cliff with a truly spectacular, panoramic view of the ocean. I was dazzled, and a bit disoriented, by its beauty, but I managed to pull myself together for a site tour with the Student Affairs Manager and SFS alumna Kimbrough Mauney (TCI Summer ’00).

The field station, formerly a hotel called the “Admiral’s Arms Inn,” has been our home in the Caribbean since 1990. There is an outdoor dining area, kitchen, pool, dormitory, and classroom. Down the steps, past the scuba dive shed and the remains of an old sea salt storage facility, there is a dock where we keep three boats.

According to Kimbrough, not much has changed at the Center or in the community of South Caicos since she was a student here in the summer of 2000. There are a number of new tourism developments being built, however, so change looms on the horizon.



That night, I had a chance to visit the future site of one of these developments when I tagged along with the students on a camping trip. The wide sandy beach is adjacent to property owned by Sailrock, an American company building eco-friendly residences.  We pitched our tents on sand as white as sugar, then gathered around a bonfire for marshmallows and charades. As the fire burned down to coals, I crawled into the tent and slept like a rock.

The next morning we piled in the van to head to the old Coast Guard lookout. Alumna and waterfront assistant Chrissy Lamendola (TCI Spring ’10), led us on a “lazy river” snorkel, floating with the current around mangroves. I saw a giant barracuda and a flounder, along with many smaller tropical fish.



That night, back at the Center, we had a demonstration on how to crack upon a conch shell and clean it. You tap the top part with the hammer to loosen its grip, then use a long, sharp knife to extract the animal and clean away the organs. That night, we dined on delicious conch fritters! I tried to get the recipe, but exact quantities were hard to come by! “Add a little ground up conch, put in a little flour and some red peppers and onions, then deep fry in hot oil.” Conch is one of the main fisheries on the island, alongside spiny lobster. I wasn’t able to taste the lobster since it is not in season, but I saw many of them tucked in coral-covered crevices while snorkeling!

An excursion to another soon-to-be operating tourist development on the island, East Bay, was postponed, so the students had extra time to prepare for their upcoming exam on resource management and marine protected areas. Since I work in alumni relations at SFS, I gave a quick talk about the SFS alumni community and the amazing feats our students go on to accomplish. I have a feeling that we will be hearing great things from this group in the future.



The next morning at 7am, I was awoken early by blaring music from the local Haitian church. It must have been quite the party! The preacher interspersed sermons in French and English with pop music by Celine Dion and Brittany Spears. With “Hit Me Baby One More Time,” now stuck in my head, I wandered into the dining room for breakfast. That morning, after site cleanup, students were either diving or snorkeling, and I joined the snorkeling group for a trip out the Long Cay. Kimbrough was my “buddy” and she pointed out spiny lobster, French grunts, flamingo tongues, an eel, and a school of barracuda. Somehow, I missed the octopus and eagle rays that the students spotted!







Later that afternoon, we invited the local island children to the field station for swimming lessons, games, and art projects. Lena Weiss, an alumna from TCI summer 2011, helped arrange a donation of numerous children’s swimsuits from the Swimmers Choice store in Syosset, New York, so there were plenty of suits to go around. I manned the coloring station and invited children to color transparent pages of tropical fish. We hung them on the rafter and they flitted in the breeze.

Sunday, my last day on the island, is a free day for staff and students. I took a long walk around town, snapping photos of the dilapidated former Governor’s mansion, the regatta where Queen Elizabeth once landed her royal yacht, the elementary school decorated with a beautiful mural painted by SFS students, and the local shops, bars, and churches. After dinner, Kimbrough was kind enough to take me on a night snorkel, where our flashlights illuminated the nooks and crannies of the rocks and coral. She dove down to scoop up a sea cucumber and pointed out a puffer fish. Unfortunately, the puffer fish was too fast for me; it darted under a rock before I had time to set my eyes upon it!

Before I knew it, it was time to head home! It was incredible to be able to spend some time with this amazing group of students and this dedicated, talented staff. I hope to be able to return someday, and maybe next time, I will see an eagle ray!










                                    [post_title] => HQ in the Field
                                    [post_excerpt] => The field station, formerly a hotel called the "Admiral’s Arms Inn," has been our home in the Caribbean since 1990.
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                                    [post_date] => 2012-07-19 09:23:16
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                                    [post_content] => On a recent trip to the SFS field station in the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI), SFS staff member Marta Brill had a chance to sit down and chat with two of our newest waterfront interns, Chrissy Lamendola and Amanda Greenstein. Both of these diving safety rock stars attended the University of San Diego and participated in the SFS-TCI program as students. Chrissy was here in Spring 2010, and Amanda came along the next year with the Spring 2011 cohort. Read on to find out about the life of an SFS intern, where “just another day at the office” sometimes means swimming with hammerhead sharks.

Marta Brill: So, how did you first find out about SFS?

CHRISSY: I found out about SFS my freshman year in the mailroom, of all places. I saw one of the posters hanging up there with cards to tear off, and I thought, ‘This seems awesome!’ I tore off one of the little slips and held on to it until my junior year, when I looked into all the programs and got really excited. What attracted me to the TCI program specifically was all the diving and snorkeling that you could do.

AMANDA: University of San Diego is an affiliated school, so there are posters everywhere and they also have meetings scheduled regularly where SFS alumni show pictures and answer questions from students. I remember going to a session and thinking, ‘This sounds so cool.’ I went with TCI because I wanted to be in the water as much as possible, and I wanted to dive.

MB: And, looking back on your time as a student, is there a particular memory or moment that stands out in your mind?

CHRISSY: When I was going through customs, on my first day, the man reviewing my paperwork told me about the lionfish problem. I had no idea what he was talking about. But he said to me, ‘You have to do something about the lionfish.’ When I got to the Center, I found out that that was a Directed Research project I could do. So, I jumped on it.

AMANDA: I remember my first dive at the grotto. We went down to sixty feet and I saw a reef shark for the first time and I was blown away. My heart was pounding out of my chest, I was so excited. It was a really special moment.  I was stunned by the beauty of the water and the diving and the whole experience. This was very early in the semester, but I was already thinking, ‘This place is incredible.’

MB: What do you think you gained from your semester? What were the real takeaways?

AMANDA: I felt a major tie to the community here on South Caicos. I really got to know what this place was all about. Many people who come to the Turks and Caicos come as tourists, but I had a very different experience than that. I was immersed in the culture here and I got a deep understanding of what some of the real issues are. It is not as simple as just saving the environment. You have to think about the social and economic aspects.

CHRISSY: When I first arrived, I was freaked out by how isolated South Caicos is, even though of course, you still have access to all the essentials. But, that isolation forced me really look inside myself and figure out who I was as a person. In the absence of external influences, l could figure out who I really was, what I liked and what I didn’t like. Plus, I came away with strong friendships with students from all around the US and in other countries.

MB: Tell me what motivated the two of you to come back here and work for us as interns?

CHRISSY: I never wanted to leave. When Amanda came back from her semester we met up for lunch, and she said, ‘We are both going to get our dive masters, and then we are both going to go back as interns.’ And I thought, ‘Sure, okay, we’ll see if that really happens.’ But, a year later, here we are!

AMANDA: I knew halfway into the semester that I wanted to be an intern here. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do after I graduated. This seemed like the perfect opportunity and I loved what the program gave me. And I really like the environment here, the feel of the whole Center; the relationship between the students and the staff is really close, like family.

MB: Can you describe a typical day for an intern at SFS-TCI?

CHRISSY: Wake up.  Go to two or more meetings. Then you do your morning duties, which could be equipment checks or whatnot. Then, depending on the day of the week, you’re either diving and snorkeling, or doing research field activities, or just basic boat or mooring maintenance. Next, it is lunch, which you are always ready for. In the afternoon, you do field exercises with the students or go on a field trip with them. Then dinner, and then sometimes you do a night dive or a night snorkel.

MB: And how is it going so far? Any good stories? 

AMANDA:  Well, on our first dive back here we went to the arch, and after about five minutes, a hammerhead shark swam by. Then, at the end of the dive, we saw a pod of five dolphins and a huge turtle. And I thought, ‘This is incredible. If this is any sign of the year to come, this is going to be awesome.’ It was the best dive you could imagine.

CHRISSY: It was a sign!

MB: What do you think is next for you? Do you have a dream career in mind?

AMANDA: I am hoping that this year will give me a better idea of what I really want to do. I am interested to see what opportunities might come from this experience. I can explore what specific area of marine science I want to eventually pursue in grad school.

CHRISSY: I want to do marine mammal rehabilitation and a big part of that is education. By working here, I get a lot of diving experience, but at the same time, I get education experience. This should help my resume stand out.


                                    [post_title] => A Day in the Life of an SFS Intern
                                    [post_excerpt] => SFS staff member Marta Brill sits down and chats with two alumni and our newest waterfront interns, Chrissy Lamendola and Amanda Greenstein.
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                                    [post_date] => 2012-08-07 09:32:32
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                                    [post_content] => Jeffrey Flocken (SFS Kenya Summer '90) is the DC Office Director at the International Fund for Animal Welfare. He recently coauthored a book called Wildlife Heroes with fellow conservationist Julie Scardina that has been featured on the TODAY SHOW, the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, NPR, and Sirius Radio, and has received endorsements from celebrities like Ted Danson, Jack Hanna and Dr. Jane Goodall. All profits from the book will support wildlife conservation efforts.

I had always wanted to help wildlife; however, I wasn't sure in what capacity. SFS offered the opportunity to experience conservation first-hand and get a feel for what it would mean to work in the field as a wildlife researcher. I'd always dreamed of studying wildlife in Africa. SFS was exactly what I was looking for.

The course attracted amazing people! I actually met and shared a hut with a student who ended up being the best man in my wedding fifteen years later. He was the first vegetarian I had ever met, and he inspired me to give up meat as well (22 years and still going). We bonded over the experience of studying in Africa and our passion for wildlife conservation, and we stayed friends for years. He died tragically of cancer two years ago, but before he did he worked in the Peace Corps and started an organization in southern Africa helping people with AIDS. Since graduating, I have run into other students and instructors from my class who have also devoted their lives to wildlife conservation and the environmental movement. The funny thing is, although I was looking to gain field experience, and I really did love it, my time at SFS helped me decide that I, personally, could do more good for conservation with policy work than with field research. As soon as I got back to the University of Michigan, I switched my focus from science to pre-law and have been doing wildlife conservation from a policy and education perspective ever since. Some of my career highlights have included spending two months in India filming a documentary on tigers, creating the flagship endangered species program for a national conservation group, traveling the Brazilian Pantanal for an educational wildlife expedition, and working for the U.S. government on an annual 10-million dollar grant program to help internationally endangered species. Five years ago, I was offered the job of DC Office Director for the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW). In this position, I head-up U.S. policy for an international organization that carries out wildlife conservation and animal welfare projects in over thirty countries around the world. I work with a staff of dedicated professionals (lobbyists, lawyers, communicators, and policy experts) who analyze opportunities for creating or improving U.S. wildlife policy to better conserve wildlife and promote animal welfare. This means working with government officials, businesses, scientists, congressmen, or fellow conservationists -- whatever is necessary to promote and advance sound wildlife practices in the U.S. I was also one of the lead authors on a petition to list African lions as Endangered under the US Endangered Species Act – which if successful, will save hundreds of imperiled lions from needless deaths every year. I saw my first wild elephants when I was on the SFS course in Kenya. Now, many years later, I was directly part of a victory that will stop thousands of elephant ivory pieces from being sold online. My office speared-headed an investigation into U.S. websites being used as platforms for buying and selling endangered species and their parts, in particular the sale of elephant ivory. As a direct result of our work, the world’s largest buyer-seller website, eBay, agreed to ban ivory on all their sites. This victory means fewer opportunities for selling ivory from poached elephants, a species still seriously threatened with extinction. Recently, I ventured into new career territory: wildlife author. I coauthored a book called Wildlife Heroes with a fellow conservationist Julie Scardina. In it, we profile 40 real-life conservationists and the animals -- and the threats to biodiversity -- that they are dedicated to working on. We wrote the book because we've both been so inspired by individuals we've come into contact with around the world saving animals, and we wanted to share their stories. The wildlife crisis our world faces is huge, but luckily there are amazing individuals tackling the problem. Sales have happily surpassed expectations. Apparently people are eager to hear inspiring stories about helping animals, as we’re on our third printing since it was released in March 2012. It helps that we've gotten good media attention from outlets including the TODAY SHOW, the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, NPR, and Sirius Radio, as well as endorsements from celebrities like Ted Danson, Jack Hanna and Dr. Jane Goodall. And, my coauthor and I are giving 100% of our profits to wildlife conservation, so all sales help animals, which I think makes people feel good about buying the book itself.

Interviewing 40 of my personal heroes was amazing. Many I already knew from my own wildlife conservation career, but every one of them inspired me all over again after learning anew about their unique contributions to saving wildlife. I am so obsessed with animals that I can’t help but be starry-eyed when I talk to people who have dedicated their lives to saving them. Without a doubt, I got where I am today because I am passionate and committed to wildlife conservation. I always knew what I wanted to do, and I pursued it with vigor, taking advantage of every opportunity to learn more about the field and meet people involved in it. For anyone interested in pursuing a career path like mine, I advise you to network aggressively and don’t be afraid to take chances. And most importantly, take advantage of every opportunity to get out into the field and see the animals you are working to protect. That is what keeps you motivated! Meet more SFS alumni [post_title] => Alumni Profile: Jeff Flocken [post_excerpt] => Jeffrey Flocken (SFS Kenya Summer '90) is the DC Office Director at the International Fund for Animal Welfare. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => alumni-profile-jeff-flocken [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:25 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:25 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2012/08/alumni-profile-jeff-flocken/ [menu_order] => 1074 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 4023 [nid] => 3486 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 4023 ) [5] => Array ( [ID] => 4033 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2012-09-05 13:10:01 [post_date_gmt] => 2012-09-05 13:10:01 [post_content] => “When I got back here, I wanted to jump right in the water and say hi to the French grunts,” said Kimbrough Mauney, Student Affairs Manager at the SFS Center for Marine Resource Students in the Turks and Caicos Islands. “They are still there! And really, not much has changed in twelve years, other than some concentrated tourist development. There is a new road and about 3000 more hotel rooms in the works.” French Grunts She first got acquainted with the island of South Caicos, its beaches and reefs, and its vibrant and diverse marine animals while an SFS student in the summer of 2000. “I knew I wanted to study the oceans. This was a perfect summer opportunity. At SFS, the academics were demanding, and the professors had rigorous credentials. I appreciated that. Developing a strong relationship with them made me want to keep pushing myself throughout my studies. They were passionate about their research, and had traveled the world pursuing their subjects, and I wanted to be like that.” After graduating with a B.S. in oceanography from Duke University, Kimbrough pursued a master’s degree in environmental education at the Western Washington University. She moved to Anchorage, Alaska seven years ago, where she managed a high ropes challenge course and rock wall, expanded her knowledge on Pacific Ocean issues and important species (such as salmon and tidal zone invertebrates), and contributed to numerous local environmental and educational initiatives focused on reducing food waste. Kimbrough has returned to SFS-TCI as a staff member overseeing student affairs, safety and risk management, community outreach, and the smooth operation of daily life at the field station. “I want the students to enjoy themselves, to stay safe and healthy, to do their academics well, and to do their fun time well. But, I also hope they say to themselves ‘wow, that was a cool professor. I want to be like that someday. I want to be that passionate about my research.’ I want them to say ‘research is cool, professors who do research get to do cool things.’” She said she also hopes that students take away an appreciation for the simple things. “This is a developing community, and it is different than what students are used to back home. We appreciate avocadoes here because we don’t get them often,” she said. “We appreciate bananas and fresh water. When they return home, I hope students remember what it is like to live with limited resources.” From their first days on the island, students are taught about constraints on water, food, and electricity, and they are asked to live sustainably within these limitations. For example, students are asked to take just one freshwater shower per week, turn off the lights and fan when they are not necessary, and be mindful about not wasting food. “It is a great program, and it is academically strong. I am so happy to be a part of it,” she said. Meet more SFS alumni [post_title] => Alumni Profile: Kimbrough Mauney [post_excerpt] => I knew I wanted to study the oceans. This was a perfect summer opportunity. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => alumni-profile-kimbrough-mauney [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:25 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:25 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2012/09/alumni-profile-kimbrough-mauney/ [menu_order] => 1067 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 4033 [nid] => 3492 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 4033 ) [6] => Array ( [ID] => 4049 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2012-09-26 07:15:24 [post_date_gmt] => 2012-09-26 07:15:24 [post_content] => The SFS Center for Rainforest Studies - known affectionately as Warrawee - is turning 25! For the past quarter-century, staff and students at CRS, alongside community partners, have contributed to the reforestation and preservation of the World Heritage-listed Wet Tropics. Help us celebrate this milestone by designing a limited-edition t-shirt. The winning design will be featured on a commemorative t-shirt, and proceeds from the sale of this shirt will support our program in Australia. The winning artist will receive a gift certificate to The SFS Store! Contest Guidelines Submitting an Entry The Fine Print [post_title] => 25th Anniversary "Design a T-Shirt" Contest [post_excerpt] => The SFS Center for Rainforest Studies - known affectionately as Warrawee - is turning 25! [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 25th-anniversary-design-a-t-shirt-contest [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:25 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:25 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2012/09/25th-anniversary-design-a-t-shirt-contest/ [menu_order] => 1053 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 4049 [nid] => 3507 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 4049 ) [7] => Array ( [ID] => 4076 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2012-10-19 09:21:22 [post_date_gmt] => 2012-10-19 09:21:22 [post_content] => SFS alumna Jen (Loose) Ryan Costa Rica Spring ’94 learned a lot from riding the buses through Central America, even if she did not realize it at the time. “Looking at the massive erosion from certain agricultural practices gave me a sense of how important good environmental laws and regulations are. I saw for myself what happens when you don’t have that kind of structure. And I think that led me to the kind of work I am doing now. It took me a while to get here, but that experience planted a seed in the back of my mind that laws and regulations are tremendously important.” For the past six years, Ryan held the position of Legislative Director for Massachusetts Audubon, where she advocated for laws and policies on Boston’s Beacon Hill to protect the nature of Massachusetts. She recently left to spend time at home with her two young children before she embarks on the next phase of her career. “Advocacy is a lot of fun,” said Ryan. “It is always varied, so you get to meet a whole range of people and work on a range of issues. It has been a tremendous experience for me personally and professionally.” “Massachusetts Audubon is working vigorously to defend the state’s endangered species act," said Ryan, "which is under attack from a small number of land owners and developers who are trying to roll back endangered species protection. They are also focused on reducing carbon emissions and tackling climate change by creating incentives for environmentally responsible green energy in Massachusetts, and providing incentives for communities to reduce their energy use, use higher efficiency cars, and deploy clean energy.” There is no official career path for getting into advocacy work, although it helps to be good at building relationships and have a strong attention to detail. Ryan arrived at her position on Beacon Hill through studies in entomology. Yes, that’s right. Bugs. “I love the beauty and complexity of insects,” she said. “They are a whole other universe on another scale than we normally operate in, and they are fascinating in their variety, especially in a place like the rainforest where the number of tree species per acres is higher than anywhere else and the numbers of insect species are too.  And when you look at them under a magnifying scope, they are complex and beautiful with colors and forms that you wouldn’t expect.” As an undergraduate student at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, Ryan was contemplating switching her major from anthropology to evolutionary biology and ecology before embarking on her SFS program. Her study abroad experience with SFS Costa Rica, and the wide range of biodiversity she encountered there, inspired her to take the plunge. “I went back, switched my major, and got a job working in the lab of Dr. David Wagner, an entomologist at the University of Connecticut. It took me an extra year of college to finish, but I did some great work with moths and butterflies and gypsy moth control in the national forest of West Virginia.” She went on to pursue graduate work in entomology, and got her Master’s from the University of Maine in Orono. She began working as a conservation biologist for the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife’s Natural Heritage and Endangered Species program. After five years of doing field work and permitting for the Commonwealth, she began to move into inter-agency policy work, especially around public health issues regarding insect borne diseases including eastern equine encephalitis and West Nile virus. “The more I got involved with regulatory work, the more I felt like for me, personally, I could do more good on a broader scale on the policy side of things than I could with site specific or on the ground work.” Just this summer, after six years of effort, Ryan and her team successfully advocated for updates to the Massachusetts Community Preservation Act, which provides funding at the local level for land conservation, affordable housing, historic preservation, and recreational assets. This will help communities to use ‘smart growth’ principles, protect their historic resources, have safe playgrounds for kids, and protect open space.  To date, the Community Preservation Act has resulted in over 15,000 acres of natural areas protected in the Commonwealth.  It is a great example of how environmental advocacy makes a difference in our towns, and in our lives. Meet more SFS alumni [post_title] => Alumni Profile: Jen Ryan [post_excerpt] => SFS alumna Jen (Loose) Ryan learned a lot from riding the buses through Central America, even if she did not realize it at the time. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => alumni-profile-jen-ryan [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:25 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:25 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2012/10/alumni-profile-jen-ryan/ [menu_order] => 1034 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 4076 [nid] => 3528 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 4076 ) [8] => Array ( [ID] => 4078 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2012-10-23 09:37:52 [post_date_gmt] => 2012-10-23 09:37:52 [post_content] => This post was originally written and published by Jaymi Heimbuch on Treehugger.com. Follow Jaymi and the Oceanic Society on Twitter. © Wayne Sentman In the photo above, a group is being taught how to measure leatherback sea turtles, thanks to a couple human volunteers. And, the photo above illustrates a lot of what Wayne Sentman does as a biologist and tour leader with Oceanic Society, a nonprofit conservation group. Traveling the world, Sentman takes small groups of people ("voluntourists" with Oceanic Society) everywhere from remote atolls in the middle of the Pacific Ocean to wildlife reserves in Kenya, teaching participants about the wonders of the natural world and engaging them in field work themselves. Here's Sentman in his business suit: © Wayne Sentman I first met Sentman at the airport in Honolulu. A friend and I were picking him up on our way to another airport, this time for a plane taking us all out to Midway Atoll. During the week I spent with Wayne, throwing question after question at him and hearing not only interesting answers to the questions but stories about his travels and studies as well, it occurred to me that this guy really has one of the most amazing jobs in the world. So, putting aside questions about endangered sea turtles and monk seals for once, I asked him about his job. © Wayne Sentman So, you have one of the coolest jobs in the world. You travel the globe with Oceanic Society teaching groups of people about amazing ecosystems and conservation efforts to preserve them, from Midway to Belize to Kenya. How did you land this gig? A bit of luck and a lot of post-undergraduate, poorly paid seasonal wildlife biologist jobs. Right out of college I participated in a School for Field Studies Wildlife Management semester in Kenya program. It was here that I really understood that I wanted my "office" to be outdoors, and that I wanted to work with on the ground conservation programs. Next I ended up working as a kayak guide in Loreto, Baja California Sur, Mexico for a wonderful group called Sea Quest Expeditions where I first had the opportunity to share my love of the outdoors with groups of "eco-tourists." Leading week long self-contained kayaking trips in the Sea of Cortez, having fin whales glide under my kayak, only cemented my desire to figure out how to keep doing this kind of work. Finally in 1998 I ended up moving from San Francisco to Hawaii, helping to monitor endangered Hawaiian monk seals on remote Midway Atoll for the National Marine Fisheries Service. It was here that things all started to come together. Oceanic Society had worked out a partnership with US Fish & Wildlife Service to utilize paying tourists or eco-volunteers to assist in monitoring the monk seals on Midway. I was finally able to combine my love of science and research with education. Over the last 14 years, with Oceanic Society I have been able to use my background in the conservation of marine ecosystems and human-wildlife conflict to travel to a variety of locations around the globe helping ecotourist groups get out and see firsthand the beauty of nature and the challenges we all face in trying to promote its conservation. © Wayne Sentman What's the most fulfilling part of your job? There are two things that I find most rewarding. The first is helping individuals that might be a bit scared of certain parts of nature to start to feel comfortable, relaxing enough so they can experience their connection with nature. On some trips in the past we have even had silent days where no one in the group says a word for the first half of the day. At these times the group is forced to truly experience the smells, sounds, and sights of where we are. It can be a powerful experience on many levels. The second most fulfilling thing is helping people on our trips be better consumers when they return home. To have them start to connect their experiential travel to their habits at home is wonderful. If you like sea turtles then how can you go home and pig out on shrimp, an industry that kills thousands of turtles? If you go to Midway and see an albatross carcass full of plastic, you will never look the same way at a plastic lighter again. Leading trips for so many years I am lucky enough to have the same individuals do multiple trips with me, I have been able to see how collectively their experiences have inspired them to look beyond their own backyard and strive to live more responsibly as part of an international community. © Wayne Sentman What's the most frustrating part of your job? How sometimes people allow the inconveniences of travel (delayed connections, bad weather, simple food, crowing roosters) to detract from the important part of what they have come to experience. Sometimes you have to put up with the mosquitoes, 6-hour canoe ride in the rain, and 4-day diet of rice and a "meat" in order to see something incredible. In fact many times it is exactly because it is so challenging to get to that some of these natural areas still exist. © Wayne Sentman How has your outlook on conservation been altered by the work you do with Oceanic Society? In working with Oceanic Society over the years I have helped to develop a variety of "voluntourism" research programs. Many of these programs have taken place over 10 years or longer. Because of this I have been able to repeatedly return to areas and see them succeed or fail in their conservation efforts. One of the things I have learned is how valuable an organization like Oceanic Society can be to International research programs by committing to these efforts not just for the term of a Master's degree but for multiple years. I have also witnessed how sharing these remote places with a concerned and interested group of people can often lead to fortifying an international constituency for otherwise "invisible" efforts. Finally returning to sites year after year has allowed me to see the benefit to local people that having the opportunity to share their culture and "backyard" nature with tourists can provide. The ability to share their nature (and occasionally benefit from that sharing) sometimes engenders a unique perspective about what it is that people have that is "valuable." Many folks that we work with in other countries go on to start or grow their own in-country businesses directed at conserving nature. As I return to these places the ones that successfully find a path to solve their conflicts always have committed local individuals that have devote great portions of their life to the effort. © Wayne Sentman What's the best comment you've ever heard from someone on an Oceanic Society tour? "I cannot believe I paid this much money to be so nervous" - Oceanic Coral reef monitoring volunteer just prior to her first Fish ID "check-out" snorkel. Whispered around 2:00 AM: " So you mean this leatherback could be older than any of us in this group?" Reply from one member of a group of four sea turtle nesting volunteers (all 65 or older) filling out a data sheet for a nesting Leatherback in Suriname. © Wayne Sentman "That was the highlight of my life! If the rest of this trip goes to hell I would not care!" - Remark from a 71-year-old Oceanic member after feeding a liter of milk to an orphaned Rhino in Kenya. Group member on an 11-day snorkeling trip in Micronesia Day 1 - "I really do not want to see any sharks, I will probably get out of the water if we see one." Day 2 - "DID YOU SEE THE SHARK IT WAS SO COOL" Day 8 - "I was trying to swim closer to the shark so I could get a better look at it." If you'd like to take part in an Oceanic Society Expedition (and you should!!) then check out the list of Expeditions they have around the world and pick a date. From Baja to Antarctica, from Midway to Kenya, from Tonga to the Galapagos, you can be part of an amazing adventure while at the same time helping to protect and preserve the places you're visiting. © Wayne Sentman [post_title] => SFS Alum Has "Coolest Job Ever" [post_excerpt] => Traveling the world, Sentman takes small groups of people ("voluntourists" with Oceanic Society) everywhere from remote atolls in the middle of the Pacific Ocean to wildlife reserves in Kenya... [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => sfs-alum-has-coolest-job-ever [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:26 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:26 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2012/10/sfs-alum-has-coolest-job-ever/ [menu_order] => 1031 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 4078 [nid] => 3530 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 4078 ) [9] => Array ( [ID] => 4104 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2012-11-14 13:17:02 [post_date_gmt] => 2012-11-14 13:17:02 [post_content] => "Farm City" was the first selection of SFS READS, our new book club! We do not have a formal meeting or membership, it's just a chance for everyone in the SFS community to come together and exchange ideas. If you have some thoughts to share on "Farm City" or urban gardening, please let us know in the comments! Novella Carpenter is an Urban Farmer. It's a label she stumbles upon while carousing at a local speakeasy and it is a perfect fit to describe her unusual lifestyle. Novella may live in "the ghetto" of Oakland, California, but that doesn't stop her from pursuing her agricultural dreams: from cultivating heirloom vegetables and fruit to keeping bees to raising poultry, rabbits, and even pigs. The obstacles she encounters are uniquely urban. She must deal with teenage gang members, neighborhood dogs, and the not-so-minor detail that she is squatting on a vacant lot destined to one day be the site of condominiums. Her creative and resourceful solutions are urban, too. She picks weeds out of sidewalk cracks to feed the  poultry, raids the Chinatown dumpster for her pigs, fashions pens out of objects discarded by the highway, and befriends a local restaurateur who shares his kitchen and techniques. During one particularly challenging month, she experiments with living completely off the land and finds that it is possible. The fruits, veggies, eggs, and rabbits are plentiful. Home-brewed tea replaces coffee. Carbs prove to be more elusive with her disappointing potato crop, but she makes do by grinding up some ornamental corncobs for pancakes. It's a moment of great accomplishment, but also great consternation. Her breath begins to stink, she is constantly hungry, and she misses the camaraderie that accompanies a great meal out at a local restaurant. In this book, it is the livestock, rather the garden, that take center stage. New farmers must learn to nourish and care for their animals, but they must also learn to kill them. This is a two-pronged process. First, you have to investigate the physical process of killing. As Novella diligently asks the advice of others and checks out books from the library, the reader gets a glimpse of what it takes to move livestock from pen to plate. Secondly, you must come to terms with ending the life of a beloved pet named Maude. Not many Americans have the experience of knowing their meat, unlike in generations past. With Novella's words, the reader gains a new respect for dinner. Throughout "Farm City," the reader is treated to Novella's bright spirit, engaging wit, and humility. She is not a "trustafarian," as she calls some members of the privileged class experimenting in agricultural side projects. She is eking out a life doing something she loves. The concept of farming the ghetto may seem a bit far-fetched at first, but her story shows that it is not only feasible, it can also be satisfying, ethical, sustainable, and a lot of fun. [post_title] => SFS Book Review: Farm City by Novella Carpenter [post_excerpt] => "Farm City" was the first selection of SFS Reads, our new book club! [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => sfs-book-review-farm-city-by-novella-carpenter [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:26 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:26 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2012/11/sfs-book-review-farm-city-by-novella-carpenter/ [menu_order] => 1011 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 4104 [nid] => 3550 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 4104 ) [10] => Array ( [ID] => 4148 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2013-01-10 12:43:18 [post_date_gmt] => 2013-01-10 12:43:18 [post_content] => There is a wooded path near my home that, until recently, welcomed runners, bikers, and dog walkers with this cautionary sign: Passing the sign on my evening runs was disheartening, but it was also intriguing. How did my quaint seaside neighborhood get so polluted anyway? I did a little research. It turns out that from about 1840 to 1906, this site was home to the Forest River Lead company, where workers produced 6,000 tons of white lead (a base ingredient for paint) per year in one of the country’s largest factories of its kind. The last building burned down in the late 1960's, and the toxic woodlands and beach lay empty and undeveloped for decades while clean-up talks and proposals went nowhere. A fence was installed to restrict access to the land and waterfront and limit possible exposure to lead, but residents still frequented the open pathway that cuts through the property. I admit it. While I did not welcome the pollution or appreciate the lack of public access to the waterfront, I found the history riveting. I liked to imagine the now quiet, empty land when it was bustling with workers, dotted with smokestacks, and humming with the clanging of 19th century industrial activity. So, when I picked up Andrew Blackwell’s book, “Visit Sunny Chernobyl,” (our SFS Reads selection for December) I could relate. The author is altogether fascinated by contaminated landscapes, and by the people that live and work there, too. But unlike me, who envisions historical degradation, Blackwell travels to toxic and filthy spots in their prime. Inspired by a chance visit to Kanpur, India and its “dysfunctional sewage treatment plants, illegal industrial dumps, poisonous tanneries, and feces strewn beaches,” he embarks on a tour of the places he deems to be “the world’s most polluted,” including Chernobyl, China’s coal country, the Western Garbage Patch, India’s Yamuna River, and the tar sand mining operations of Alberta, Canada. The book reads like a travel memoir. While it provides an excellent history and overview of each area, it focuses more on Blackwell’s personal observations and experiences. He deliberately visits them as a tourist might – checking out the local museum, taking the guided bus tour, and going for leisurely hikes and boat rides. He chats with local residents, attends local festivals, and tries to get sense of what it’s like to be part of these notorious communities. And, he does seem to have a pretty good time in these sullied and desecrated places! Along the way, he makes the case that we should start accepting and understanding the planet as it is – full of people, industry, and even waste – and not as a romanticized wilderness. Sustainable solutions to large environmental problems must take into account the people that depend on natural resources for their livelihoods. This becomes most clear for Blackwell, perhaps, in the Amazonian rainforest, where he realizes that a group of loggers can be “angels of sustainability.” It is a sentiment we often hear from SFS students, who learn to view environmental problems from an economic, political, and sociological perspective, as well as a biological one. They see the complexity of conservation work and gain an entirely new outlook after meeting with local fishermen, farmers, ranchers, and ecotourism operators. Recently, I interviewed Emma Impink Kenya Spring ’09 for an alumni profile, and here is what she had to say on the subject: “I’ll never forget one day, when I was conducting interviews during my SFS Directed Research Project, a young man in Kuku Group Ranch asked me why I, an outsider, was doing this research when someone in the local community could do it more effectively. It was a surprising moment that challenged me to really think about my role in the world and the importance of facilitating local leadership and involvement in issues. It provoked an ongoing reflection on the role of ‘outsiders’ and the potential for community partnerships to address pressing development issues. I firmly believe that without local investment and engagement, even a well-meaning intervention cannot be sustained.” These are wise words indeed. And as for my local polluted site? A deal was finally been brokered to launch a million dollar clean-up project in the area. The forest was razed, soil and sediment were excavated and removed from the site, and fresh, uncontaminated sand and dirt were brought in. By April 2012, the digging and filling was complete, and workers began planting new trees and shrubs. The sign has been removed, and when I take an evening run, I pass green meadows and a lead-free salt marsh; its former polluted state is now just a memory. "Visit Sunny Chernobyl" was our second selection for SFS READS, our new book club! We do not have a formal meeting or membership, it’s just a chance for everyone in the SFS community to come together and exchange ideas. If you have some thoughts to share on “Visit Sunny Chernobyl,” please let us know in the comments! And let us know your ideas for our next book pick! [post_title] => Book Review: “Visit Sunny Chernobyl” [post_excerpt] => "Visit Sunny Chernobyl" was our second selection for SFS READS, our new book club! [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => book-review-visit-sunny-chernobyl [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:26 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:26 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2013/01/book-review-visit-sunny-chernobyl/ [menu_order] => 977 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 4148 [nid] => 3583 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 4148 ) [11] => Array ( [ID] => 4151 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2013-02-01 10:47:29 [post_date_gmt] => 2013-02-01 10:47:29 [post_content] => The post was published in Today @ Colorado State, here. Miranda Babcock-Krenk is a senior [at Colorado State University] majoring in Zoology. She studied with The School for Field Studies in Tanzania and Kenya during the Fall 2012 semester, and was a recipient of the Office of International Programs Undergraduate Study Abroad Scholarship, which helped fund her experience. "These past four months studying wildlife management in East Africa have taught me many things. I know how to shoot a bow and arrow, carry water on my head, and patch up a Maasai house with cow manure. I know how to distinguish wildebeest dung from cattle dung, tell if a male elephant is potentially aggressive, and how to remove snares set by poachers. I’ve learned to not settle for a marriage proposal unless it is at least 30 cows, to always chase away baboons that are trying to steal your potatoes, and that it is possible to make a real connection with someone even if you do not share the same culture, beliefs, or language. I can now untangle acacia bushes expertly, ask for directions in Swahili, and use a GPS. I’ve learned that African sunsets can take your breath away, that the glowing eyes of a hyena at night can be hauntingly beautiful, and that shared silence can be more meaningful than hours of conversation. Most importantly, I now know that I am capable of so much more than I ever thought and that I will always keep this experience close to my heart. As the director of our program told us on our last night in Kenya: 'Be happy, be good, and do good for others.' This is how I want to live my life and how I hope I can continue sharing my experience with others." Kwa heri, Miranda [post_title] => Alumna Reflects on Experience Abroad in East Africa [post_excerpt] => Miranda Babcock-Krenk is a senior at Colorado State University majoring in Zoology. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => alumna-reflects-on-experience-abroad-in-east-africa [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:26 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:26 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2013/02/alumna-reflects-on-experience-abroad-in-east-africa/ [menu_order] => 974 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 4151 [nid] => 3586 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 4151 ) [12] => Array ( [ID] => 4214 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2013-04-04 11:54:06 [post_date_gmt] => 2013-04-04 11:54:06 [post_content] => “I’ve never been a ‘road well-traveled’ type of person,” said Katlin Kraska. This adventurous attitude carried the DePauw University student to East Africa last spring to study wildlife management with The School for Field Studies (SFS). Soon, she will depart for Indonesia on a prestigious Fulbright award to explore mechanisms for improving community empowerment through the wildlife tourism industry. “The research experience I got with SFS was invaluable, and that is what I based much of my methodology on for my Indonesia project,” she said. Kraska will be conducting community-based surveys in the vicinity of Ujung Kulon, a wildlife reserve on the southwestern tip of Java which provides natural refuge for the Javan rhinoceros as well as other endemic primate and predatory species. She plans to ask local residents about the ways in which they interact with wildlife and how tourism benefits, or does not benefit, their daily life. She has always had a strong interest in animals, and in human-animal relationships and interactions, but her first exposure to wildlife tourism operating on a large scale was in East Africa. She joined the SFS Directed Research project on this topic, led by Professor John Mwamhanga, and had the chance to survey people living in the Tarangire-Manyara ecosystem of Tanzania on their perceptions of the wildlife tourism industry. “Some of the results were pretty astounding. One of the main questions that I asked was: do you think the government values people, wildlife, or both?” she said. “More than half thought that the government valued wildlife over people, and about a third said both….so only a small sector answered that people were the priority for the government.” Kraska noted that much of the tourism industry in that region of Tanzania is run by outside entrepreneurs that operate large, self-contained establishments. The money made does not make its way into the hands of the local community members, and thus, they do not perceive that they have a stake in conservation or preservation. “If anything,” she said, “they might come to dislike wildlife because the animals eat their crops and livestock.” Getting to know the thoughts and viewpoints of local residents, both through her research and daily life at the field station, was definitely a highlight for Kraska. At the end of the project, she presented her research to the local community – an experience she describes as “one of the most impactful moments” from her time abroad. “We did a short homestay on Easter, and I got along really well with my host family. I never thought I’d see them again, but then my host dad showed up to our research presentation. He doesn’t speak a lick of English and my Swahili was pretty terrible at that point, but just seeing him there and seeing how interested the whole community was in what we were doing, that showed me that our reciprocal relationship was real and genuine… I realized that people are the same anywhere you go. Cultures are different, traditions are different, practices are different, but people are people and that’s the bottom line.” Meet More SFS Alumni [post_title] => SFS Alumna Receives Fulbright Award [post_excerpt] => “The research experience I got with SFS was invaluable..." [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => sfs-alumna-receives-fulbright-award [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:26 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:26 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2013/04/sfs-alumna-receives-fulbright-award/ [menu_order] => 929 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 4214 [nid] => 3631 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 4214 ) [13] => Array ( [ID] => 4242 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2013-04-26 06:47:01 [post_date_gmt] => 2013-04-26 06:47:01 [post_content] => Happy Arbor Day! The simple act of planting trees can go a long way towards combating soil erosion, habitat loss, water quality degradation, and even climate change. On SFS programs around the world, students join with community members in both large and small-scale plantings of indigenous seeds and saplings. Enjoy these “before and after” photos from the paddock area of the SFS Center for Rainforest Studies in Australia. In the fall of 1993, SFS student Warren Goetzel snapped these images of his classmates as they planted 500 trees on a grassy hilltop. This now forest-covered area is nearly unrecognizable! Ciara Legato, Student Affairs Manager in Australia, revisited the spot twenty years later to capture its transformation. Here’s what she wrote: “We (Center Director Amanda Freeman and I) hiked out to where the planting was back in ‘93, and it looked COMPLETELY different. The forest is huge, and dense, and not that easy to photograph.” [post_title] => Warrawee Planting: 20 Years Later [post_excerpt] => Enjoy these “before and after” photos from the paddock area of the SFS Center for Rainforest Studies in Australia. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => warrawee-planting-20-years-later [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:26 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:26 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2013/04/warrawee-planting-20-years-later/ [menu_order] => 914 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 4242 [nid] => 3651 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 4242 ) [14] => Array ( [ID] => 4371 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2013-10-17 10:29:14 [post_date_gmt] => 2013-10-17 10:29:14 [post_content] => In honor of the 25th anniversary of the SFS Centre for Rainforest Studies in Australia, we reached out to our alumni to ask about some of their fondest memories from the Wet Tropics. We heard back from many, including Gwendolen Gross Australia Spring ’88, an accomplished novelist, who wrote: “A great adventure and much fodder for my first novel, Field Guide! I’ve published four more, but the world of Millaa Millaa will always be vivid in my memory.” In Field Guide, the main character Annabel Mendelssohn travels to North Queensland, Australia to study spectacled flying foxes at a research station not unlike SFS. She soon settles in to life among scientists in the rainforest – listening to the dawn chorus, avoiding leeches, and hiking past stinging trees. But her newfound tranquility is interrupted by the mysterious disappearance of her professor and mentor, Dr. John Goode. We recently interviewed Gwendolen to learn more about the intersections between her SFS experience and Field Guide. Why did you decide to study abroad with SFS in Australia? It was 1988, my junior year of college at Oberlin. I adored Oberlin, but was fascinated by the idea of field science. I'd always wanted to write about science—fancying, perhaps, a job as a National Geographic journalist—and I'd done quite a lot of backpacking and adventure —read: budget —travel. I picked up a brochure at a campus fair for programs abroad, and knew SFS was for me. It was later I learned I preferred an amalgam of invented and real world fiction to science journalism. How did the idea first come to you to set your novel at a field station, and in North Queensland in particular? I worked in textbook publishing after college—nursing and science textbooks—and did quite a bit of freelance writing for science supplements. Then I worked in children's books, and found a tiny ad in the San Diego free paper for a lunchtime Brown Bag writing workshop—and began writing poetry. This led to a wild outpouring of creative writing, and a fellowship with PEN West, and the realization that even if it wasn't exactly practical to get an MFA in writing, I had paid off the first round of student loans, and I had to give writing some serious attention. My very first novel, which lives in a drawer, was about a girl who would sing before she could speak. I could whistle before I could speak. But when I got to grad school, I was ready to write about the extraordinary place I had studied abroad. Millaa Millaa really was a character all its own. The story is rich in detail...describing the humidity, the flora and fauna, the national parks...but it was published in 2001, many years after your student experience. How did the memories stay so fresh? Lots of those details stayed with me—as details probably stay with anyone who lives an SFS adventure. It's such a different sensory experience. For me, writing is about relating the sensory world, sharing how things smell and taste and feel with someone else. As a reader, I want to taste and feel and hear, and suspend disbelief. Readers can live in the frame of the book, the invented, or captured world. I also had journals and notes, tons of notes, about the bats, on my waterproof paper! Do bats intrigue you as much as they do your main character? They do, they really do. I was hoping that Annabel could use bats as a lens to see herself--to see how we all live in colonies, whether in a group house in North Queensland or an apartment building in New York City. We're animals of space and community culture, of collective work and isolation at the same time. Competition and collaboration. In many ways, young adulthood is about understanding that, and understanding how we move from one family into the world of our next, chosen families. You have gone on to publish numerous books since Field Guide. Is the sense of place a defining characteristic in all your novels? I hope sense of place is important in each. After the first two books, Book Magazine dubbed me, "The Reigning Queen of Women's Adventure Fiction." I am very proud of that title, though my next books deal with other landscapes – the landscape of relationships. In The Other Mother, I explore the conflicts between a stay-at-home and working mom. In The Orphan Sister, I look at sisterhood. The latest, When She Was Gone, has a strong sense of place—but the characters create the place. With each book, I hope to always get closer to telling the truths of life—not the facts, but what seems truest to me, about how we relate to each other, how we connect, and how we miss. [post_title] => Alumni Profile: Gwendolen Gross [post_excerpt] => In honor of the 25th anniversary of the SFS Center in Australia, we reached out to alumni to ask about their fondest memories from the Wet Tropics. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => alumni-profile-gwendolen-gross [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:26 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:26 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2013/10/alumni-profile-gwendolen-gross/ [menu_order] => 809 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 4371 [nid] => 3751 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 4371 ) [15] => Array ( [ID] => 4474 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2014-03-24 04:00:31 [post_date_gmt] => 2014-03-24 04:00:31 [post_content] => Dr. Kate Mansfield TCI Spring’ 91 is a marine scientist and sea turtle biologist at the University of Central Florida. She and her team have recently published a paper in Proceedings of the Royal Society B on the whereabouts of baby sea turtles during their “lost years”—the time spent between hatching on the beach and adolescence, when they turn up again in the waters around the Azores and Madeira Islands. To track the tiny turtles through the open ocean, they developed a clever (and safe) solar-powered transmitter tag that allowed for long-term monitoring (of up to 220 days!). Satellite mapping showed fast speeds in the currents of the North Atlantic Subtropical Gyre and stop-offs in the Sargasso Sea. Read more on the study here. How did an SFS experience contribute to Kate’s education and her career as a marine biologist? Read our interview below! Why did you choose SFS as a study abroad program? I learn best when I'm not sitting at a desk or expected to regurgitate information. I knew I was interested in marine biology and management and wanted to get some hands-on experience. My college had a great Biology program, but at the time, they didn't offer classes that focused on marine science. SFS helped fill that gap! What is your most profound or lasting memory from your SFS program? I have so many memories from the SFS program on South Caicos! I used to really enjoy watching the ocean around the time of sunset when all of the spotted eagle rays would jump out of the water. Our class also had the fun opportunity to meet and interact with Jacques Mayol, the famous free diver. He brought his home movies to show the students and then would swim with us in the mornings (I think some of the students challenged him to a race, but he out-swam everyone). What did you gain from your SFS experience? Field skills. Aside from improving my SCUBA skills, I learned so many field sampling techniques, particularly underwater sampling techniques, which really helped me when I was applying for internships and jobs after college and even after I received my Master's degree. Are you professionally connected to other SFS folk? A couple of my collaborators on a turtle tagging project in Brazil were SFS instructors and interns on South Caicos after I was there as a student. Small world! What advice do you have for other SFS alumni looking to get into your field? Build up strong field (or laboratory) skills—this is what helps make you marketable to field-based programs. Gain "life experience", too. When considering taking on graduate students, I look for those who have more practical “outside of the classroom” experience. [post_title] => Alumni Profile: Kate Mansfield [post_excerpt] => Dr. Kate Mansfield (TCI Spring’ 91) is a marine scientist and sea turtle biologist at the University of Central Florida. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => alumni-profile-kate-mansfield [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:26 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:26 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2014/03/alumni-profile-kate-mansfield/ [menu_order] => 946 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 4474 [nid] => 3832 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 4474 ) [16] => Array ( [ID] => 4511 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2014-05-02 07:22:46 [post_date_gmt] => 2014-05-02 07:22:46 [post_content] => Congratulations to Colby Halligan of Elon University; Michelle Stuhlmacher of George Washington University; and Jenna Wiegand of Oregon State University. This August, these three recent SFS alumni will be presented the prestigious Udall Scholarship in honor of their commitment to careers in the environment, leadership potential, academic achievement, and record of public service. We commend your achievements! Continue below to read the scholars' profiles.
Name: Colby Halligan School: Elon University Major: Environmental Science SFS Program:  Kenya and Tanzania Fall 2013
I chose SFS Kenya and Tanzania for an adventure, for the opportunity to learn more about myself and my passions, and to explore a new culture and environment. I could not be more grateful for the opportunity to recognize my passion for nutrition in the developing world. My favorite memory of my SFS experience remains in the Serengeti as our safari car drove into the dusk. I remember thinking to myself, “I know how best to love those around me, and that’s by supplying good food to people in the world that need it.” My intention upon being awarded the Udall Fellowship is to obtain my MPH as a certified dietician and work to develop farm-plot nutrition plans for malnourished women and children. This summer, I will be interning on an organic farm in Tuscany through the Spannocchia Foundation, an organization focused on natural resource conservation, sustainable agriculture, and global dialogue. I am thrilled for the opportunity to help facilitate the empowerment of malnourished communities by sharing resources, knowledge, and enthusiasm.
Name: Michelle Stuhlmacher School: George Washington University Major: Geography SFS Program: Costa Rica Summer 2013
I was first drawn to The School for Field Studies because of the hands-on environmental curriculum. The summer program was a great chance for me to get research experience and see sustainability in action outside of the U.S. I chose the Costa Rica program because I am really interested in Latin American culture and the rainforests and biodiversity. For the Directed Research portion of the summer, I had the honor of being part of Dr. Achim Haeger's team. I gained a much better understanding of the research process because we were able to see how a research project began, go out into the field to collect data, and then analyze that data, run statistical tests, and write up our findings in a paper. Additionally, Dr. Haeger and I submitted an article that built off of the summer's research, and I am listed as a co-author. The article is still under review, but I am very excited about potentially being published as an undergraduate. This is a huge step in the right direction for my future education and career goals. This coming fall I plan on applying to geography Ph.D. programs. I want to research climate change adaptation and mitigation for my dissertation. Ultimately, I'd like to become a professor so I can both research and teach. Climate change will require a long-term solution so I think it is important to educate and inspire the next generation of students to study climate adaptation and mitigation.
Name: Jenna Wiegand School: Oregon State University Major: Business SFS Program: Turks & Caicos Islands Fall 2013
I am beyond excited for the opportunities this scholarship will give me and the Udall alumni group I'll be a part of. My experiences and life reflection as part of SFS were instrumental in changing my career goals and aspirations, and highlighted significantly in my application. With a growing interest and appreciation for sustainability, I was drawn to SFS as an opportunity to both deepen my understanding of ecology and to live out the sustainable practices I’d been learning so much about and aspired to implement. I wanted to shake up my lifestyle and broaden my worldview—and SFS delivered! The depth of what I learned hands-on in the environment and while working in the local community was beyond what I had expected, contributing to an indescribable experience. This remote island and the community there captured my heart and made me reevaluate my career aspirations in light of global problems that really matter: I now want to apply my business background to work in microfinance and focus on issues including poverty, conservation, inequitable climate change impacts, and third world development. During my time in South Caicos I learned that creating social change is hard: it’s hot, it’s dirty, it’s long hours, it’s full-on commitment. But the work is worth it—hugs and careworn smiles and local enthusiasm are just evidence of a community on the road to something better. [post_title] => Three SFS Alumni Named 2014 Udall Scholars [post_excerpt] => Congratulations to Colby Halligan of Elon University; Michelle Stuhlmacher of George Washington University; and Jenna Wiegand of Oregon State University. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => three-sfs-alumni-named-2014-udall-scholars [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:27 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:27 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2014/05/three-sfs-alumni-named-2014-udall-scholars/ [menu_order] => 918 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 4511 [nid] => 3857 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 4511 ) [17] => Array ( [ID] => 4626 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2014-10-10 05:00:20 [post_date_gmt] => 2014-10-10 05:00:20 [post_content] => This post was originally published on DePauw University's Live & Learn: The Hubbard Center Blog. Name: Casandra Brocksmith Off-Campus Study Program & Location: The School for Field Studies (SFS) Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) What did you study while off-campus?  Marine Resource Management How did you connect with your community off-campus?  SFS did a great job connecting us to the community during our time spent there.  Three days a week we were working with the community.  On Wednesdays we would travel to the local elementary school and help with an activity of our choice (PE class, in-class work, etc.)  Then on Saturdays the local community kids would come to our center and we would provide them with educational games and activities.  The focus of these activities was to educate the kids on the resources around them and how to appreciate and improve the conditions in their community.  On a weekend day we were placed with a family in the community who needed some kind of assistance, whether that be with their kids or to sit and spend time with an elderly woman.  My placement was to sit and spend time with the oldest lady on the island, who was 100 years old and still lived by herself.  Since South Caicos was a small island, the whole community really valued personal relationships and getting to know everyone who inhabited the island. As far as field research, we were constantly out in the field.  I took many of my exams out in the ocean on waterproof slate.  The program really emphasized the field research aspect and we were constantly out and about doing hands-on learning/research. What was your most memorable experience?  Wow, I would say it would be impossible to narrow it down to one specific experience.  I was lucky enough to have countless memorable experiences while abroad, but I will pick out one of my many favorites.  On Wednesdays and Saturdays we would go scuba diving in the mornings.  This gave us the opportunity for us to get a better look at all the different environments we were learning about in our classes.  It was always incredible, but this specific dive trumped the rest.  I descended 100 feet underwater that day with some of the best friends I have ever had (people I met on this program) and when we got to our depth I saw some of the coolest things.  We saw a few sharks on the dive, a pod of dolphins swam by, and a friendly little sea turtle was checking our group out.  I was ecstatic.  After ascending to the top and getting back on the boat we were all smiling ear to ear and couldn’t believe it.  A few moments later one of our professors pointed and exclaimed loudly, a migrating humpback whale and her baby were breaching in front of our boat.  The spring is the season when the whales and their new babies make the journey past South Caicos and up to Cape Cod.  Hands down the coolest day of my life.  We were all crying happy tears only because of all the amazing things we had just seen in such a beautiful place. What were you most apprehensive about with your off-campus study experience and how did you overcome it?  I was most apprehensive about being so far away from home for that long of a period of time.  I would not consider myself a huge homebody necessarily, but I had still not spent more than a month away from my family and definitely had never been 1,533 miles away.  The program was really conscience of this transition for us and was very helpful.  One of the first nights they spoke to us about how we would work through them.  Our student mentor met with us one-on-one as well just to talk to us individually and to address any concerns we may have had.  SFS keeps you so busy and you’re constantly learning about and doing amazing things, so I didn’t even have time to feel apprehensive about being away for that long of a time.  We were really submerged in the program and the community and I was having the time of my life.  It honestly flew by and by the time it was ready to go home I was more apprehensive about leaving to go home than I was to move away from home for studying abroad. How has off-campus study impacted your long-term plans, professionally or academically?  People say studying abroad changes your life and you truly do not understand it until you experience it yourself.  I grew in many different areas: personally, academically, professionally, and interculturally.  This program specifically challenges you in many of these areas, but this results in great growth.  I learned more about myself in that one semester than any other semester thus far.  This came from all the new learning experiences I had in this completely different culture.  Luckily for me, I gained 3 credits while abroad and 2 of them went toward my Biology major.  These classes were very difficult, but SFS is a hands-on program and everything is very applicable, which made it more desirable to learn about.  I learned a better studying technique as well as how to apply the material I was learning to bigger pictures. SFS also sets you up very well professionally.  I had to write my first scientific paper based on my own personal research.  The professors at my program were from all around the world like Ireland and England and they all had pursued Ph.D. s in the areas of study.  They provided us with a Q-and-A night and answered any questions we had about our next steps after college and offered to connect us with people who may be of help for us.  The opportunities and growth I have and will continue to have as an SFS alum are endless. [post_title] => Off-Campus Study Profile: Casandra Brocksmith [post_excerpt] => SFS did a great job connecting us to the community during our time spent there.  [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => off-campus-study-profile-casandra-brocksmith [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:27 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:27 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2014/10/off-campus-study-profile-casandra-brocksmith/ [menu_order] => 833 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 4626 [nid] => 3941 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 4626 ) [18] => Array ( [ID] => 4846 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2015-05-13 11:55:52 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-05-13 11:55:52 [post_content] => The Good Fight podcast (http://thegoodfight.fm) talks to marine biologist and SFS alumna Ayana Johnson (Turks & Caicos Islands Spring '01) about "big ocean problem-solving stuff."
[post_title] => Podcast: Using the Ocean Without Using It Up [post_excerpt] => The Good Fight podcast talks to marine biologist and SFS TCI alumna Ayana Johnson about "big ocean problem-solving stuff." [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => podcast-using-the-ocean-without-using-it-up [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:27 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:27 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2015/05/podcast-using-the-ocean-without-using-it-up/ [menu_order] => 683 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 4846 [nid] => 4124 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 4846 ) [19] => Array ( [ID] => 4902 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2015-09-03 09:00:55 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-09-03 09:00:55 [post_content] => Name: Kayt Colburn Education: Bachelor of Science, Sweet Briar College, 2011; Masters in GIS (Geographic Information Systems), University of Redlands, 2013 SFS Program: Kenya/Tanzania, Spring 2010 Current Position: GIS Developer Why did you choose SFS as a study abroad program? When I was an undergrad, I was thrilled to learn that as a science major I could study abroad without having to take a semester off and still earn credit in biology and environmental studies. I had dreamed about going to Africa my entire life, and the stars aligned as the perfect situation presented itself to me in the form of the Kenya/Tanzania semester. I hesitated for a moment between spending a semester abroad and doing lab research at my home university, but then my advisor turned to me and said: “How do you want to remember your college experience in 20 years, sitting in a lab all semester or going to Africa?” My advice to prospective students is: pack your bags and go! You are about to embark on the most important journey of your life. What is your favorite memory from your SFS program? My banda-mate Kaila and I spent the day with the most adorable mother of four who lived in a traditional house made of cow dung and mud. She cooked us the most phenomenal meal I’ve had in my life of ugali and beans and cabbage, and we helped her harvest corn that was planted by a previous group of SFS students and collect water from a pond for cleaning and cooking. She primarily spoke Maa and we had just begun our Swahili studies. We were able to connect with this woman and her children using what broken Swahili we knew between us, laughter, and hand gestures. There are countless other profound memories I have of my time in East Africa, but living as a Maasai for a day and befriending our host mama will always be with me. Second on that list was shaving my head with two other girls. We decided East Africa was too hot for a full head of hair, and the Kimana Market had a special on haircuts. What did you gain from your SFS experience? It’s hard to put into words everything that I gained from my experience at SFS. There are tangible skills I learned such as research methods for non-invasive behavioral studies, Swahili; and hands-on experience with communities faced with the realities, joys, and dangers of living with mega-fauna in their backyard. There are unforgettable experiences, such as traveling alone across the world for the first time, witnessing one of eight rhinos in Ngorongoro Conservation Area, watching a cheetah feast upon an impala she killed not 20 feet from our camp, hugging the orphans who are growing up next to the mural we painted in their playground, singing and dancing with the Maasai during a coming of age ceremony, and being lulled to sleep by the endless sounds of the Serengeti night. And then there are the things such as a new found appreciation for the convenience and luxury of clean running water and electricity, a heightened awareness of our disconnection from the natural world as modern Americans, and a sense that our roots as human beings run deep within each other and begin in Africa. What do you do for work? I am a GIS Developer for Oceaneering International in Houston, Texas. I do a lot of application development as well as data analysis for emergency response in the energy industry. Right now I am working on a disaster response and prevention application with the intention of preventing major environmental disasters from occurring in sensitive environments. This involves creating applications and databases that can go offline and collect and analyze data collected in the field that will determine where specialized equipment needs to be placed in order to prevent major disaster. Next month I will join several of my colleagues in testing this application in the field. We are installing the equipment on two boats and sailing out to a remote area, without Internet connection and very limited communication with shore base. Seeing this project come to fruition has been quite the feat, and I’m very proud of everyone I’ve worked with. When I return from the maiden voyage, I will have many more stories of success, that I am sure. What advice do you have for other SFS alumni looking to get into your field? I never thought I would be in the position that I’m in, I thought I would work for a lab or continue to do field work. But now I find myself working in an industry I was surprised fit in with my education and experience. My advice to fellow alumni is to not be afraid of the unknown. Remember the first time you stepped off the plane into the new country you would call home for the next few months. You took risks, you made new friends, and you did things you never thought possible. Approach your career that way -- go into the unknown, be willing to be surprised. And call in your favors -- utilize your network to its fullest potential. Sending in blind resumes is great, but never underestimate the power of a recommendation, and don’t be afraid to ask. Are you connected to other SFS alumni? I am professionally connected via the Linked In group, and every time I am in the hometown of one of the “cohorts”, I make my best effort to see them, hug them, and reminisce on the adventure of a lifetime. [post_title] => Alumni Profile: Kayt Colburn [post_excerpt] => My advice to prospective SFS students is: pack your bags and go! You are about to embark on the most important journey of your life. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => alumni-profile-kayt-colburn [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:27 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:27 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2015/09/alumni-profile-kayt-colburn/ [menu_order] => 642 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 4902 [nid] => 4169 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 4902 ) [20] => Array ( [ID] => 4962 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2015-10-15 09:38:45 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-10-15 09:38:45 [post_content] => Name: Theresa Wolfgang Education: BA (Zoology, Environmental Studies) from Ohio Wesleyan University SFS Program: Kenya/Tanzania Fall 2012 Why did you choose SFS as a study abroad program? Ever since I was in second grade I had a dream to go to Africa and see the animals I had read so much about. SFS allowed not only a chance for me to fulfill that dream, but also to study these animals in their natural habitats. A program like SFS that heavily emphasizes getting out of the classroom and venturing into the national parks as well as working with local communities was very appealing to me. Reflecting back on your time in the program, what did you gain from your SFS experience? My experiences with this program were numerous, invaluable, and life-altering. Perhaps my biggest take-away was the amazing attitudes and perspectives of local African people. The rural areas of Kenya and Tanzania in which we studied are inhabited primarily by people who have very little, yet conveyed extreme happiness and gratitude for what they did have. They have a saying, "There is no rush in Africa,” and I have tried to live by that mantra since leaving. The local people I encountered changed my perspective on my own life, and encouraged me to enjoy every single day and appreciate the little things. I learned a lot about myself during my months abroad as well. Having the opportunity to learn with students from all over the United States from local guides, who helped us as we interviewed farmers, has given me the confidence to go out on my own and work with new people. I was able to move across the country away from my family and friends to a new place where I knew no one for the job I have now without worrying about whether or not I would be lonely or unable to make new friends. What is your most profound or lasting memory from your SFS program? My first six weeks of the program were spent in Kenya. We lived down the road from Amboseli National Park, so we frequently went there for safaris for class. The purpose of one of our trips there was to participate in an annual census count of all the large mammals. We were given a quadrant of the park and six of us piled into a truck driven by our Swahili mwalimu (professor). We spent four hours driving around counting over 400 zebras, numerous elephants, and gazelles. As we drove back to the park headquarters, we jammed to music while taking in the beautiful landscape of Africa. While waiting for the other groups to return, we watched a Chelsea soccer game in a room full of every enthused, traditionally dressed Massai warriors. This was an amazing experience because we weren't just taking notes for class—we were actively helping the park and collecting real scientific data that could be used. And the dance party/safari on the ride back was pretty unforgettable. My second six weeks was spent in Tanzania. We were lucky enough to spend a week camping in tents on the plains of the Serengeti. Nothing separated us from the wildlife; we just had our trustee Askaris (night guards). The most vivid memory I have is from a morning safari during which we had to stop and sit in the middle of a road for thirty minutes because we were completely surround by hundreds of White-bearded Wildebeest. We were fortunate enough to be there during the great migration. It was an unbelievable experience to see that many animals in one of the most magical places on earth. What advice would you give to a prospective SFS student? GO! You will never have a chance to get so much experience with amazing people in such amazing places. When you do go, take advantage of every opportunity that presents itself while you are abroad—do not have any regrets that you missed out. Don't be afraid to get yourself out there and make friends with the locals, they will be the most interesting and friendliest people you will ever meet! What do you do for work? I am a primate keeper, which basically means I take care of about 5 different species of lesser apes, guenon, and lemurs. Every morning I feed the animals and clean their enclosures, train the animals for veterinary procedures, work on maintenance of exhibits, and educate the public as they hand feed our ring-tailed lemurs craisins on Lemur Island! Did your SFS experience contribute to where you ended up? My experience confirmed how much I loved animals and how much I wanted to work with them and learn as much as I could. Being a zookeeper has allowed me to spend everyday surrounded by species that remind me of my SFS trip. What advice do you have for other SFS alumni looking to get into your field? It is all about the experience in the zoo world. There are husbandry internships, and there are also internships that focus on training and research. The more versatile you are the better it looks to an employer. [post_title] => Alumni Profile: Theresa Wolfgang [post_excerpt] => Ever since I was in second grade I had a dream to go to Africa and see the animals I had read so much about. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => alumni-profile-theresa-wolfgang [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:27 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:27 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2015/10/alumni-profile-theresa-wolfgang/ [menu_order] => 601 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 4962 [nid] => 4220 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 4962 ) [21] => Array ( [ID] => 5000 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2015-11-17 10:59:56 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-11-17 10:59:56 [post_content] => Name: Aubrey Ellertson Education: BA, Biology, Franklin and Marshall College SFS Program: TCI Spring '10 Current Position: NOAA Northeast Fisheries Observer Program; Data Editor Since I completed my SFS program in 2010, I have been back to visit South Caicos several times. My most recent trip was February 2015, where I presented about being a Northeast Fisheries Observer for NOAA, and how to pursue a career in fisheries. When I graduated from college, I was hired as an at-sea monitor and northeast fisheries observer. I was one of about 200 observers in NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Observer Program, and one of nearly 1,000 observers nationwide. My job was to keep a record of everything that was brought on board the fishing boat, and everything that left it. In addition, I would document bycatch if there were any, location of catch, the weather, and ocean conditions. The data I collected helped scientists monitor the movement of fish in response to changing environmental conditions. Essentially I was trying to paint as complete a picture as possible, so that scientists could tell how each fish population was doing. I worked mainly on trawlers and gillnetters, and the trips I covered lasted anywhere from one day to two weeks. Out in the field my goal was to promote strong scientific backing, high data quality standards, objectiveness in collecting information, respect for the fishing community, and a high regard for all marine resources. As an observer I learned to work together, exercising open communication and cooperation to successfully achieve my objective. The observer/captain relationship can be a delicate one, since taking an observer is a mandatory requirement and fishing permit obligation. As a result, I had to adapt to every boat I went on, and ensure that I was able to do my job successfully without interfering with fishing operations. Working as an observer taught me to be an effective communicator and listener. Presently I am working as a Data Editor, working to maintain records on 11 of my individual fisheries observers and to track their performance. I review their raw electronic data, and paper logs for completeness and accuracy. I then contact each of my fisheries observers to verify inconsistencies, to try and solve any data quality issues that might arise, and to verify and check their species identification photos they submit. I also check in age samples (otoliths (ear bones), scales, and monkfish vertebrae). In addition to my every day responsibilities, I am very involved in the outreach department within the Northeast Fisheries Observer Program. I travel often for our kiosk outreach events, as well as visit different fishing ports to do dock work and educate fishermen about our program, or about new protocols that are coming into place. Without a doubt, I would not be where I am today if it was not for SFS and my experiences in Turks and Caicos. While on South Caicos, my research was on establishing a baseline information guide for fisheries management on the finfish dock landings, and in particular if Nassau grouper were being speared below the age of sexual maturity. This experience was particularly important to my growth and development because it was my first opportunity to interact with fishermen in what I would consider a male-dominated society. I gained a lot of field experience, but also how to communicate effectively. I have enormous ties to the fishing community on South Caicos, and I continually feel a very strong connection to the individuals that made their livelihoods from the sea. Those experiences contributed to my current involvement in New England fisheries, and to my work as a fisheries observer out on commercial fishing boats. When I visited the Center in February 2015, I had the opportunity to go gillnetting for lemon sharks, and it was truly a remarkable experience I will never forget! I was also able to snorkel the new lobster casitas (houses), and check for juvenile lobsters. I was glad to see that community engagement is as important as ever, and that the time students spend with community members has actually increased. Lastly, I came home with a potcake this trip! Potcakes are the name given to dogs of the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Islands. It came about because the locals fed the caked remains of the cooking pot to the dogs. They are truly a remarkable breed both smart, loyal and loving pets. I would never have had Savannah today if not for the help of SFS staff at the Center, and Potcake Place in Providenciales. [post_title] => Alumni Profile: Aubrey Ellertson [post_excerpt] => Without a doubt, I would not be where I am today if it was not for SFS and my experiences in Turks and Caicos. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => alumni-profile-aubrey-ellertson [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:27 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:27 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2015/11/alumni-profile-aubrey-ellertson/ [menu_order] => 568 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 5000 [nid] => 4249 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 5000 ) [22] => Array ( [ID] => 5061 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2016-01-22 08:23:11 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-01-22 08:23:11 [post_content] => More than 16,500 students have participated in our programs, and our alumni frequently tell us that SFS ignited passion and direction for their careers. SFS alumni are environmental leaders in the worlds of academia, activism, business, and government. We asked several SFS alumni: "What advice do you have for students who are looking to get into your field?" Here is their insight. Have advice of your own? Share in the comments below!

David Bennett (SFS Mexico Summer '97), Sustainability and Innovation Consultant

Pursue work that you truly love doing. There’s so much good work that needs be done in the world and there are endless industries that you can be a part of in order to effect the change that you want to see in the world. Someone once asked me, "What is it that you can’t NOT do?" I think that asking yourself that question is one good way of figuring out your passions because that question forces you to examine the things in life that you feel compelled to accomplish in life. Once you know what those pursuits are and can begin working towards them, I think you’ll find a great sense of accomplishment personally and professionally.

Emma Impink (SFS Kenya Spring '09), Program Support @ One Acre Fund

If you are an alum interested in getting into grassroots sustainable development, I say, try something that might not sound exactly like what you’re looking for… you never know how you can integrate your knowledge to address a new challenge!

Jeffery Flocken (SFS Kenya Summer '90), Policy Officer @ International Fund for Animal Welfare

Without a doubt, I got where I am today because I am passionate and committed to wildlife conservation. I always knew what I wanted to do, and I pursued it with vigor, taking advantage of every opportunity to learn more about the field and meet people involved in it. For anyone interested in pursuing a career path like mine, I advise you to network aggressively and don’t be afraid to take chances. And most importantly, take advantage of every opportunity to get out into the field and see the animals you are working to protect. That is what keeps you motivated!

Theresa Wolfgang (SFS Kenya/Tanzania Fall '12), Primate Keeper @ Tanganyika Wildlife Park

It is all about the experience in the zoo world. There are husbandry internships, and there are also internships that focus on training and research. The more versatile you are, the better it looks to an employer.

Kayt Colburn (SFS Kenya/Tanzania Spring '10), GIS Developer @ Oceaneering International

I never thought I would be in the position that I’m in, I thought I would work for a lab or continue to do field work. But now I find myself working in an industry I was surprised fit in with my education and experience. My advice is to not be afraid of the unknown. Remember the first time you stepped off the plane into the new country you would call home for the next few months. You took risks, you made new friends, and you did things you never thought possible. Approach your career that way—go into the unknown, be willing to be surprised. And call in your favors—utilize your network to its fullest potential. Sending in blind resumes is great, but never underestimate the power of a recommendation, and don’t be afraid to ask.

Kate Mansfield (SFS Turks & Caicos Islands Spring '91), Marine Scientist @ University of Central Florida

Build up strong field (or laboratory) skills—this is what helps make you marketable to field-based programs. Gain "life experience," too. When considering taking on graduate students, I look for those who have more practical "outside of the classroom" experience.

Rob Holmes (SFS Kenya Fall '90), Founder @ GLP Films

Work hard, follow your passion, and do whatever it takes to get there. And you’ve got to be patient. I got excellent advice along the way, like the importance of networking, being curious, and asking questions. Before I went to grad school, I sat down with a few friends of my father who were in business. The common advice was to go into sales to teach yourself how to communicate, articulate, persuade, and get out of difficult situations. Communication skills are so important.

Tania Taranovski (SFS Australia Spring '92), Sustainable Seafood Programs Manager @ New England Aquarium

Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and take chances. It’s tempting upon graduation to feel like you must have a job that will start paying the bills right away, or that you must start the right graduate school immediately to get ahead. No time in the next 20 years will it be easier to just explore and take chances. And live simply, like you did during your SFS experience. It will remind you of what is really important. → Read SFS Alumni Profiles → Explore SFS Programs [post_title] => Environmental Professionals Share Career Advice [post_excerpt] => SFS alumni working in the environmental field answer the question: "What advice do you have for students who are looking to get into your field?" [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => environmental-professionals-share-career-advice [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:28 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:28 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2016/01/environmental-professionals-share-career-advice/ [menu_order] => 532 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 5061 [nid] => 4283 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 5061 ) [23] => Array ( [ID] => 5062 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2016-01-26 08:06:12 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-01-26 08:06:12 [post_content] => Name: Ben Goldfarb Education: Amherst College, BA English/Environmental Studies; Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Masters in Environmental Management SFS Program: Australia Fall 2007 Current Position: Freelance Journalist Why did you choose SFS as a study abroad program? Unlike most SFS students, I completely lacked scientific experience — let alone field experience — when I applied in 2007. I was an English major, and my only exposure to ecology was the occasional book by E.O. Wilson or David Quammen. Still, I loved the outdoors and particularly wildlife, and I longed to surround myself in nature (maybe I’d read too much Thoreau). SFS Australia was the most remote study-abroad program I could find. I’m proof that, with some intellectual curiosity and hard work, you can succeed at SFS no matter your academic background. Reflecting back on your time in the program, what did you gain from your SFS experience? First, I gained familiarity with all kinds of vital scientific concepts: the ecological perils of habitat fragmentation and isolation; the value of wildlife corridors; the process of forest succession, and so on. I also became part of a wonderful like-minded community, and made friendships that I still value today. Perhaps most importantly, however, I came to understand the fundamentals of research, and developed a profound appreciation for the mental and sometimes physical rigor that goes into conducting a field study or experiment. I think laypeople — and I was certainly a layperson before SFS — think of science as something that happens in hygienic labs flooded with fluorescent light, conducted by people wearing white coats and latex gloves. I discovered that many scientists are more comfortable decked out in rain pants, covered in mud, and wielding a wrench. Setting up a study requires all kinds of problem-solving skills, many of them mechanical — how do you attach this radio-tag? measure this transect? fix the coffeemaker at 3 am? — and the best scientists have a good bit of engineer in them. As someone who writes about scientists every day, I’ve benefited from being able to talk intelligently and empathetically about just how dang hard fieldwork can be. What is your most profound or lasting memory from your SFS program? For my final project, I took part in a study that examined how bats use rainforest habitat. The fundamental challenge, of course, is that bats are nocturnal; lacking a budget for radio-tags, how the heck do you follow a bat through a pitch-black jungle at 2 am? Jess Wallace, our professor, devised an ingenious solution: Using a biodegradable adherent, we stuck tiny green glowsticks to the backs of captive bats, then turned them loose. Picture a half-dozen 20-year-olds charging through dense rainforest, their eyes fixed on a tiny green speck bobbing in utter blackness, their headlamp beams swinging wildly in pursuit, vaulting over red-bellied black snakes and dodging stinging trees, shouting out “canopy!” or “understory!” to another student striving desperately to simultaneously record data and keep up, everyone drenched in mud and pin-cushioned with thorns. It was beautiful, delirious mayhem. I’d never had so much fun. What do you do for work? I’m a freelance journalist who covers science and the environment, with a focus on wildlife conservation and fisheries management. I’ve written for a variety of publications, including Scientific American, Orion Magazine, High Country News, The Guardian, Earth Island Journal, and many others. In the last couple years I’ve covered enough species to fill a zoo — grizzly bears, salmon, wolverines, salamanders, bison, beavers, sea turtles, and lamprey, to name a few. It’s a blast. What does that actually entail on a daily basis? I spend my days trolling through the scientific literature, combing the tsunami of press releases that crash in my inbox, and perusing local newspapers in search of important stories the national press is missing. Primarily I’m looking for new studies or topics that might pique the interest of my editors and readers. I don’t do a lot of straight “gee-whiz” science reporting; much as I revere the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake, I prefer covering research with practical applications — for instance, how might this new technique for extracting DNA from scat help us protect mountain lions? I often have the opportunity to accompany scientists or government officials into the field; in the past year, my reporting has taken me to Alaska, Montana, Olympic National Park, Lake Tahoe, the Grand Canyon, and the Bahamas. You can learn a lot over the phone; still, nothing beats a high-quality field experience. Photo by Geoff Giller. Did your SFS experience contribute to where you ended up? Absolutely! In college, I knew I wanted to write; like many wandering English majors, however, I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to write about. SFS inspired my passion for biodiversity conservation and helped me channel my journalistic ambitions in a particular direction. Cheesy though it sounds, my path was settled a couple weeks into my SFS experience, the moment I first held a bat — its body warm, soft, trembling, and impossibly fragile in my hands. In that instant, I understood the true meaning of conservation — that animals are beings of flesh and blood, not just abstract numbers on a graph or providers of vague “ecosystems services” — and I knew that in some capacity I would devote my life to wildlife. In 2013, I received a grant from the Solutions Journalism Network to write a series of stories about the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative, or Y2Y, a 2,000-mile-long wildlife corridor that link up parks and protected areas throughout the Northern Rockies. The concept that underpins Y2Y — that isolated parks can’t meet the ecological needs of many species, and that corridors between habitat patches can help creatures migrate, mate, find food, and connect with other sub-populations — was one that I learned about during my time at SFS. I vividly recall touring the properties of dairy ranchers and seeing these thin strips of green, often following riparian areas, that ran from one forest patch to another. The concept captured my imagination, and upon my return to college I set about researching other wildlife corridors, including Y2Y. Six years later, that long-term fascination became a grant and a two-month reporting trip through the Northern Rockies. Subsequently, I published stories about habitat connectivity in Orion Magazine, Earth Island Journal, Modern Farmer, Medium, Conservation Magazine, and other outlets. Reflecting upon those stories, I’m struck by how SFS shaped and informed them. Yes, I’m writing about grizzly bears on the prairies of Alberta and wolverines in the mountains of Montana, but I’m deploying fundamental conservation principles that I first encountered applied to cassowaries and tree kangaroos in Australian rainforest. Are you professionally connected to other SFS folk? Yes! Back in 2014, I was writing a story about salmon habitat restoration in the Columbia River Basin, and a couple of biologists took me out to see some projects in the Deschutes River. We went to inspect a fish weir manned by a few technicians, one of whom looked vaguely familiar from afar. Which she lifted her head, I realized that she was a fellow SFSer who’d collaborated on the bat project in Australia. To the confusion of the other biologists, we embraced on the riverbank, marveling at the serendipity of it all. Over dinner she offered some invaluable wisdom that helped inform the story. Hopefully those kinds of propitious coincidences will become more common as my SFS friends depart graduate school and advance through the ranks of academia and conservation. What advice do you have for other SFS alumni looking to get into your field? For starters, read constantly — not just scientific studies, but ecology’s representation in popular literature. Caroline Fraser’s Rewilding the World, David Quammen’s Song of the Dodo, and Jon Mooallem’s Wild Ones are indispensable additions to any conservation writer’s book shelf. It’s true that the current media landscape is a challenging one — rates are low, newspapers are dying, and myriad writers are competing for the same gigs. At the same time, the web has allowed an incredible diversity of new publications to flourish, all of which are hungry for new writers. (For details on how to break into those magazines and journals, check out a blog post I wrote in 2015 for Canadian Science Publishing.) If you’re a scientist yourself, consider starting out by writing op-eds and dispatches about your own research, and the work of your friends, perhaps in a campus publication; then parlay those writing samples, or “clips” — your currency as a writer — into an internship or additional freelancing opportunities. It’s not the easiest career path in the world, but it’s among the most rewarding — and heck, the academic job market is pretty tough too! Science writing is certainly in flux, but in some ways there’s never been a more exciting time to break in. Finally, if you’re a recent alumni seeking writing advice, or an older one interested in gaining some thoughtful, conscientious media coverage for your research, or if you just want to chat about media and conservation you can reach me at ben.a.goldfarb@gmail.com, or on Twitter at @ben_a_goldfarb. Looking forward to hearing from you! [post_title] => Alumni Profile: Ben Goldfarb [post_excerpt] => SFS inspired my passion for biodiversity conservation and helped me channel my journalistic ambitions in a particular direction. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => alumni-profile-ben-goldfarb [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:28 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:28 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2016/01/alumni-profile-ben-goldfarb/ [menu_order] => 531 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 5062 [nid] => 4284 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 5062 ) [24] => Array ( [ID] => 5214 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2016-08-04 08:57:39 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-08-04 08:57:39 [post_content] => Name: Claudia Polsky Education: B.A. Harvard University; M. Appl. Sc. Lincoln University, New Zealand; J.D. UC Berkeley Law SFS Program: Acid Rain & Limnology, Adirondacks (NY State), Summer 1983; Volcanic Geology, Mt. Vesuvius (Italy), Summer 1984 Current Position: Director, Environmental Law Clinic at UC Berkeley School of Law Why did you choose SFS as a study abroad program? I was drawn to the summer programs that SFS offered because I wanted to try environmental field science. I had always loved science, and loved the outdoors, but had never had the opportunity to combine the two by studying and doing empirical scientific work in the real world rather than a school lab. Reflecting back on your time in the program, what did you gain from your SFS experience? I gained so much from my SFS programs that it’s hard to know where to begin. I not only learned an enormous amount of science, but I found that I really retained it, because it was so grounded in direct, multi-sensory experiences: when I think about lake acidification, I remember trying to do accurate titrations with leaves falling into our sample beakers, and fighting to get an accurate water visibility reading with a secchi disc from a wind-tossed inflatable boat. When I think about dodecahedral crystal forms in volcanic rocks at Mount Vesuvius, I remember how those hot black volcanic rocks also helped us melt fresh mozzarella and tomatoes for our incredible rustic lunches atop the volcano. I also learned a huge amount from my fellow students. In particular, during the SFS program I did right after high school, I became close friends with two older female geology majors, whose influence steered me to study geology in college. What is your most profound or lasting memory from your SFS program? From my program studying acid rain in the Adirondack Mountains of New York, I remember a lesson on aquatic chemistry that we had while dangling our feet in a clear mountain stream. Talking about pH and various rocks’ differential buffering capacity with our toes in the relevant ecosystem really made an impression on me, and I think also helped me grasp some new chemistry concepts. From my program studying the explosive patterns of Mount Vesuvius to help predict future eruptions, I remember an extraordinary night our crew spent atop the active volcano Stromboli, recording its eruptive frequency, but mostly just being awed by the beauty and miracle of watching fiery eruptions up close against a pitch-black sky. I can still hear the sizzle of the lava as it slid downslope to its quenching in the Mediterranean. What advice would you give to a prospective SFS student? Throw yourself into everything – the physicality of the projects (some of ours were quite strenuous), the difficulty of the journal articles you’ll read, the diversity of your team mates, the language of the country you visit. There are few things you will do in life that will give you the opportunity to learn and stretch across so many dimensions at once. Tell us more about your career in environmental law. What accomplishments are you most proud of? I’ve spent my whole career as an environmental professional, with the past 20 years of it as an environmental lawyer working for nonprofits and government agencies. Over the past decade I’ve been deeply involved in helping California develop a regulatory system for addressing toxic chemicals in consumer products. My involvement has taken many forms, from living room strategy sessions with environmental activists to a stint directing a Pollution Prevention and Green Chemistry program at our state toxics agency. The part I most enjoyed, however, was working with a team of scientists, lawyers, and policymakers over a couple-year period to draft a complex and comprehensive set of product regulations and try to make them as defensible as possible in light of anticipated industry attack. I felt like we were charting new and important ground, doing something that was both intellectually and practically challenging, and had real-world impact. This spring, Congress finally overhauled the very outdated Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976; this was an implicit recognition that California and other states had gotten way ahead of our national government in addressing toxics exposures. During the same period that I was working on macro-level toxics issues, I was pursuing a variety of legal angles to address a very specific exposure threat: the emission of semi-volatile chemical flame retardant chemicals from upholstered furniture, which are known carcinogens and also increasingly demonstrated to be neurotoxins, and turn out to be one of the big indoor air quality threats in our homes. I was ultimately able to both advise the California agency that promulgates fire retardancy standards as it reworked its regulations to obviate the need for manufacturers to include toxic flame retardants in household furniture, and to represent that agency in litigation to defend its new regulations successfully in the face of challenge from the flame retardant industry. In late 2015, I was able to buy a couch for my new office that was among the first couches sold since the mid-1970s in my state that did not contain toxic flame retardants. I feel victorious every time I sit on it! And grateful for the opportunity to work on issues that affect human health and the environment very directly. I now direct the Environmental Law Clinic at UC Berkeley School of Law, where I’m helping to train a next generation of environmental public interest and public-sector lawyers. Clinical law teaching involves a combination of academic instruction and hands-on legal projects for real clients. In that way, it’s very much like SFS – experiential rather than abstract learning. In a given day, I might teach a seminar on persuasive legal writing, meet with student teams working on projects related to water pollution or global warming, and then work on a conference presentation related to toxic chemical exposures, which is one of my main areas of expertise. Did your SFS experience contribute to where you ended up? Very directly. SFS definitely deepened my environmental issue knowledge, interest, and career commitment. But as important, it made clear to me that although I’m fascinated by science, I don’t actually enjoy empirical scientific work – when I read scientific journal articles, I am always interested in the abstract and the conclusions, but really glaze over reading about methods. Figuring out through SFS that I wanted to have an environmental career that involved working on science-intensive issues and working with scientific experts, but not do the science myself, was very helpful in steering me towards a career in environmental law and policy. Are you still connected to other SFS folk? Yes, I’ve maintained close friendships with two tent-mates from my SFS summers: we are still in touch after 30 years, and have enriched each others’ lives in many ways. What advice do you have for other SFS alumni looking to get into your field? Environmental work is incredibly varied, and all of its variants are necessary to confront the daunting planetry challenges before us. Along the route to becoming an environmental lawyer, I seriously considered environmental science and environmental journalism, and also spent several years doing land conservation work for The Nature Conservancy. It may take some experimentation to figure out where the tasks you like to do, the skills you have, and the type of impact you’d like to make all converge; programs like SFS are fantastic for letting you explore a number of permutations and find a good fit. → Meet More SFS Alumni [post_title] => Alumni Profile: Claudia Polsky [post_excerpt] => Alumna Claudia Polsky (New York Summer '83; Italy Summer '84) has spent the last 20 years of her career working as an environmental lawyer for nonprofits and government agencies. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => alumni-profile-claudia-polsky [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:28 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:28 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2016/08/alumni-profile-claudia-polsky/ [menu_order] => 416 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 5214 [nid] => 4407 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 5214 ) [25] => Array ( [ID] => 5279 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2016-10-26 08:38:15 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-10-26 08:38:15 [post_content] => Name: Bronwyn Llewellyn Education: B.A. Biology, Mount Holyoke College; Master of Environmental Management, Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University SFS Program: SFS Kenya Spring ‘03 Current Position: Foreign Service Officer with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Why did you choose SFS as a study abroad program? I wasn’t planning on studying abroad at all. I’d grown up overseas so didn’t feel I really needed the “international experience” and I was on a pre-vet track, which meant there were very few programs that offered the transferable science credits I would need to meet all the requirements. However, on the night of the study abroad fair on campus, I was hosting a prospective student and I offered to take her on a tour. When we reached the campus center, we popped into the fair for a few minutes. I will never forget turning the corner and seeing the big display with the photo of the giraffes silhouetted against the setting sun. I chatted with the SFS rep, and looked through the brochure and was immediately drawn to the Kenya program. Not only did it offer transferable science credits so I could still stay on the pre-vet track, the course description was exactly what I wanted to do with my life! Reflecting back on your time in the program, what did you gain from your SFS experience? SO much!!! One of the most critical things I gained was an understanding of all the different career paths open to me. I had always been passionate about conservation, but only knew two ways I could pursue it – through research (PhD route) or, if I wanted to be hands on with wildlife, as a veterinarian (although I knew the chances of actually getting to work with wildlife were minuscule). Through the program I had the chance to meet so many people working on conservation from so many different walks of life! Sure there were vets and researchers, but there were also experts working for the big donors, such as the US government or World Bank, there were folks working for International NGOs, the UN, and local groups, and even diplomats engaged in conservation work. I also learned there were so many different ways to work on conservation, whether that be through fund-raising, community engagement, policy interaction, law enforcement, or park management. When I returned to my college I started to research graduate programs that would get me where I wanted to be, and discovered there were actually a lot! What is your most profound or lasting memory from your SFS program? There are many striking memories, but one of the most important was of sitting up on top of a huge outcropping of rocks listening to a lecture from one of our professors. He used the whole landscape behind him as his prop – no need for maps or PowerPoint when you could just point to the feature you are talking about! That perspective helped me see how everything is interconnected, and helped lead me into my later focus on Conservation Ecology – a discipline where you try to understand the bigger picture and how everything fits together with an eye to how best to conserve your target species or ecosystem. What advice would you give to a prospective SFS student? GO FOR IT!! The program will challenge you and shape you, and you will never be the same again… but you will never look back! What do you do for work? I am a Foreign Service Officer with the United States Agency for International Development. USAID is the lead U.S. Government agency that works to end extreme global poverty and enable resilient, democratic societies to realize their potential. USAID carries out U.S. foreign policy by promoting broad-scale human progress at the same time it expands stable, free societies, creates markets and trade partners for the United States, and fosters good will abroad. USAID works in many sectors, including health, agriculture, democracy and governance, education, and environment. USAID’s environment programming covers a wide swath of issues from environmental compliance (making sure our other projects do not have negative environmental or social impacts), to urban planning, to water management, to energy production, to forestry, to climate change mitigation and adaptation, to biodiversity conservation. As a USAID Environment Officer, I am the technical lead responsible for designing and managing programming that addresses these issues. I just left Nepal, where I was the Environment Team Leader, and am currently the Natural Resource Management and Water Team Leader for USAID/Tanzania. I lead a staff of four other technical experts in climate change, water sanitation and hygiene, community conservation, and wildlife trafficking to manage a series of activities that aim to help Tanzania better manage their natural resources, including wildlife, forests, and water to the greater benefit of the Tanzania people and the preservation of those resources for future generations. What does that actually entail on a daily basis? Generally speaking, a lot of emailing, meetings, and report writing! As a steward of taxpayer dollars I spend a lot of my time ensuring that our money is being used efficiently and effectively, and reporting back to congress what is happening. Of course, to do that well, I do have to get out to the field regularly to see first-hand what is happening on the ground! All the tedious meetings and hours on the computer become worth it when you are riding on the back of an elephant to see a grassland restoration project in Nepal and almost literally stumble over a tiger. Or you get to participate in an exercise to put satellite collars on Rhinos.Or you talk to a group of women in a marginalized community who are now making five times their previous annual salary through an activity that is also helping restore hundreds of hectares of forest. I also get to fund cutting-edge research, such as using DNA to track tigers, and meet with top scientists and explorers to learn what they are doing and see how we can include it in our programming. Some people would prefer to be the researcher, or the person on the ground implementing the project, but I love having my bird’s eye view of the issues (going back to my memory of the lecture at SFS!). I have the opportunity to see the whole system, and work with local policy makers, implementers, and other donors, like other Embassies or the UN, to decide the strategic direction for conservation in the country, and potentially identify and fill important gaps. Designing the next generation of projects is probably my favorite part of the job. Describe an interesting project you’ve worked on in your career. In Nepal, USAID’s biggest project is called “Hariyo Ban”, which means “Green Forest” in Nepali. It covers an enormous swath of the country, including two landscapes: the Terai – the flat plains at the foot of the Himalayas where the rhinos and tigers live, and the Kali Gandaki River basin – which connects the high Himalayas to the Terai. Hariyo Ban has a budget of nearly $50 million USD ($40 million from USAID and $10 million in matching funds) over 5 years. Climate change is an enormous problem in Nepal, where the effects are visible and tangible. Within the Kali Gandaki basin you have the dual problems of glaciers disappearing, leaving mountain communities without access to water, and increased flooding from changing Monsoon patterns in the lowlands. Compounding all this is steadily rising temperatures, driving species up stream in search of cooler climates. Unfortunately the Kali Gandaki has not been historically managed to help facilitate connectivity between protected areas, and there are lots of gaps in the forest. Also, the poorest of the poor – landless marginalized groups – are almost entirely reliant on the forest for survival, and their few other livelihoods options are extremely vulnerable to climate change. Enter Hariyo Ban. One of the virtues of having a large project is that you can take a comprehensive look at a landscape, even one as vast as the Kali Gandaki Basin. They identified areas where there were bottlenecks to biodiversity connectivity as well as where the most vulnerable people lived. Not surprisingly most of these are the same areas! There they work with Nepali Government Officials, community forest user groups, local decision makers, and the poor themselves to find ways to regrow forest, pull people out of poverty, and improve local community access and management of forest resources. It sounds like a tall order, but they have been extremely successful! Did your SFS experience contribute to where you ended up? Absolutely! I didn’t have a clear understanding of what my options were for working in international conservation before Kenya. My time at SFS really opened my eyes to what I could do, and how, and led me to pursue my Masters of Environmental Management. It also more directly led to me getting my first job with World Wildlife Fund – my on-the-ground experience in East Africa was considered a major plus to the hiring committee. After my first Washington DC based WWF contract ended I got another offer to work on the Coastal East Africa initiative, a project that covered Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique. Again, the fact that I had lived in Kenya previously was a huge help in convincing my bosses that I was up for the job. The WWF experiences paved the way for me to join USAID, so you could say I first stepped foot on my path to being a diplomat when I stepped off that plane in Kenya! Are you professionally connected to other SFS folk? Yes! At my first job at WWF, there were a number of people who had attended different SFS sessions, and I’ve also run into a few within USAID. I’m also connected to all of my SFS classmates, and they are all doing amazing things – many directly linked to their time in Kenya. What advice do you have for other SFS alumni looking to get into your field? What do you wish someone told you? I took a fairly straight path from SFS to where I am now. I didn’t take a break between undergrad and grad school, and my career since grad school has steadily built until here. If I could do it again, I probably wouldn’t change anything in terms of what I studied, but I might have taken a bit more time. Peace Corps would have been a fantastic option post undergrad to get more international experience, and to take a bit of a mental break from academia. My other piece of advice is that the Masters of Environmental Management degree that I got at Duke (and there are many similar programs around the country) is really perfect for this kind of work. While you study a lot of hard science as part of the degree, the purpose is not to pursue the science yourself, but to be able to understand it and interpret it for decision and policy makers. You also, in turn, learn how to understand policy and interpret it for practitioners. This skill is extremely valuable whether you work for an NGO, a government organization, or a company, either in the US or overseas. Note: The contents of this blog are the responsibility of Bronwyn Llewellyn and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government. [post_title] => Alumni Profile: Bronwyn Llewellyn, USAID [post_excerpt] => Bronwyn Llewellyn, SFS Kenya Spring '03, describes how her SFS experience has influenced her life and career so far. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => alumni-profile-bronwyn-llewellyn-usaid [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:28 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:28 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2016/10/alumni-profile-bronwyn-llewellyn-usaid/ [menu_order] => 369 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 5279 [nid] => 4457 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 5279 ) [26] => Array ( [ID] => 5375 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2017-03-17 10:07:11 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-03-17 10:07:11 [post_content] => Name: Anna Menke Education: Princeton University, BA in Anthropology, minor in Environmental Studies SFS Program: Costa Rica Summer 2014 Current Position: Fellow, Environmental Defense Fund Why did you choose SFS as a study abroad program? I chose the SFS Costa Rica program because it was a perfect marriage of my interests in international development, environmental sustainability, and Latin American culture. As a varsity athlete at Princeton I was not able to study abroad during the school year, but it was something I really wanted to do. SFS was a perfect opportunity to use my summer to complement my studies while also exploring a new place. Reflecting back on your time in the program, what did you gain from your SFS experience?? I gained tangible field research skills that helped me build my resume for the internship I would apply to the following summer. I also gained a deep passion for Latin American culture and an affirmed sense that sustainability and environmental policy were areas I wanted to continue to focus on, both academically and in my work, going forward. The other intangible thing I gained was some really close friendships. I still keep in good touch with one friend from SFS and intermittently catch up with other friends from the program. The program broadened my network outside of Princeton, which I am very thankful for. What is your most profound or lasting memory from your SFS program? Our class spent three days in the small rural town of El Sur, Costa Rica. During the time, we conducted research for our final independent papers. I had elected to research a social science question about internal human migration and urbanization due to environmental changes. I conducted interviews and administered surveys. I have some very distinct memories of the local people I talked to and the profound curiosity I had for learning about other people’s perception of and interaction with their environment. I didn’t realize it at the time, but this was the beginning of me figuring out why the environment was uniquely interesting to me. I cared about human interactions with the environment. What advice would you give to a prospective SFS student? Go! My experience at SFS gave me so much confidence, independence and perspective on the world outside my small college bubble. That being said, going for an SFS program isn’t enough. Push yourself beyond the bounds of your comfort zone while you are there, if you just hang out with other students in the program you are missing an opportunity. Get to know people who live and work in the area. Work hard - don’t just aim to get by. Appreciate the opportunity to be somewhere else, it is one not everyone has. What do you do for work? I work for the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) on the EDF+Business team. My boss and I are working to engage leading US corporations in federal climate and energy policy issues. Our aim is to motivate US companies to advocate for climate and energy policy. Our theory of change is predicated on the belief that in order to overcome the argument that climate policies will hurt the economy, we need to get the biggest drivers of our economy to verbalize their support for these policies, framing climate policy as a solution in which both the economy and the environment can thrive. Currently, my boss and I work with a broad range of fortune 500 companies engaging them in various conversations and advocacy efforts. A lot my work day to day involves researching these corporations and their past history with and positioning on climate and clean energy policies. This includes understanding their lobbying giving to various lawmakers and PACs, their presence in various trade associations and their commitments to sustainability targets such as greenhouse gas reductions. When I am not doing this due-diligence research, I am in meetings or on calls with these companies and with other NGOs and stakeholders discussing ways to work together to better advocate for climate and clean energy, through targeted outreach to Congress or strategic op-eds and thought leadership pieces. Did your SFS experience contribute to where you ended up? SFS definitely affirmed my passion for environmental sustainability and inspired me to pursue a career in the environmental world. What advice do you have for other SFS alumni looking to get into your field? Experience matters! If you care about something get out there and get experience however you can by volunteering, an internship or shadowing someone. You are going to have to work hard to find the right job for you in the environmental world, there is no linear path. Don’t be afraid to ask people about what they’re doing and how they got into it. This can give you a great sense of the types of jobs that are actually out there. → Sustainable Development Studies in Costa Rica [post_title] => Alumni Profile: Anna Menke [post_excerpt] => SFS definitely affirmed my passion for environmental sustainability and inspired me to pursue a career in the environmental world. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => alumni-profile-anna-menke [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:28 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:28 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2017/03/alumni-profile-anna-menke/ [menu_order] => 291 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 5375 [nid] => 4540 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 5375 ) [27] => Array ( [ID] => 5414 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2017-04-19 09:34:55 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-04-19 09:34:55 [post_content] => Name: Courtenay Cabot Venton Education: BA, Economics, Northwestern University; MSc, Environmental Policy and Management, Oxford
SFS Program: Mexico Fall 1994 Current Profession: Environmental Economist Why did you choose SFS as a study abroad program? I have always been an environmentalist at heart. When I was in high school, I ran the environmental club, and I quickly realized that one of the best ways to get people to protect the environment – particularly in the private sector – was to articulate the economic benefits of doing so. So in college I majored in economics. While Northwestern had an excellent economics department, I really wanted to do environmental economics and the head of my program let me design an environmental focus. One part of that was studying in Baja, Mexico with SFS. Reflecting back on your time in the program, what did you gain from your SFS experience? I gained so much from my experience, and I still wish that I could go back in time. There is nothing better than experiential learning, and my program was a perfect mix of classroom studies and extensive field work. There is something truly unique as well about living and working with your peers, 24 hours a day. It creates incredible bonding moments, but it also really teaches you to work it out when you have a difficulty with someone, and to really get to know people who come from all different backgrounds, interests, etc. What is your most profound or lasting memory from your SFS program? Swimming with a whale shark and rescuing a humpback with a net covering its head! What do you do for work? I am an environmental economist. After college, I worked for a U.S. based consultancy focused on U.S. environmental policy. After I did my masters, I wanted to shift to more international development work, and I started working in developing countries. You can’t work on environmental issues in developing countries without working on poverty reduction. Most of my work focuses on helping donors and aid agencies (UN, USAID, etc) to figure out what is working, and what is not, when it comes to poverty reduction. A lot of my work has focused on evaluating different types of interventions –water, health, livelihoods, etc – to determine those that are having the biggest impact for every dollar spent on poverty reduction. More recently, my work has focused heavily on humanitarian aid, specifically addressing the economic case for early response to crises. My days are either spent at my desk, or in the field. When I am at my desk, I am usually on the phone for the morning with colleagues in Africa and Asia, and my afternoons are focused on analysis and writing. When I am in the field, I am either sitting under a tree discussing poverty and the impact of various interventions with community members, or in the capital city working with government and donor counterparts. My work has taken me all over the world – across Asia, Africa and South America. Did your SFS experience contribute to where you ended up? 100%. My love for being in the field has been heavily influenced by my time in Mexico with SFS. Describe an interesting project you’ve worked on. A few years ago I was asked to evaluate an approach to poverty reduction in Ethiopia. Self Help Groups (SHGs) are groups of 15-20 people – mostly women – who come together to save, invest in small businesses, and support each other and their communities. By saving together they are able to lend to each other for small business activities. But more importantly, by working collectively, the women feel empowered to create change in their communities. What’s more, the approach tends to go viral once seeded, with existing groups helping to set up new groups. Determined to do something more, I pulled together a team and we collectively developed an app that would help facilitators to strengthen and spread the Self Help Group model. The app is designed for the facilitators of the groups, and digitizes the weekly content that they use to run a meeting, We could see the potential for an app to help to deepen and strengthen the spread of the approach. At the time, I had no idea where this would lead, or if we would be successful. With seed funding from private donors, we started small and developed a prototype. That led to catalytic funding from the U.K. government. Three years in, we have funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and a vision for a digital platform to help scale the Self Help Group approach globally. What advice do you have for other SFS alumni looking to get into your field? The best advice that I was ever given was that nothing you do is a waste of time. My path in my work has not been linear – I spent some time buying and selling companies for Ernst & Young! But everything that I have done has given me skills that translate through to whatever project I am working on. I have used my experiences from E&Y to build financial models for green technologies, for example, and the negotiating skills that I learned have been invaluable. So don’t be afraid to try something new or different. It can only open your mind to different ways of looking at a problem. → Learn More about Courtenay’s Work in Reducing Poverty Worldwide [post_title] => Alumni Profile: Courtenay Cabot Venton [post_excerpt] => There is nothing better than experiential learning, and my program was a perfect mix of classroom studies and extensive field work. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => alumni-profile-courtenay-cabot-venton [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:28 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:28 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2017/04/alumni-profile-courtenay-cabot-venton/ [menu_order] => 259 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 5414 [nid] => 4576 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 5414 ) [28] => Array ( [ID] => 5437 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2017-05-05 13:16:59 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-05-05 13:16:59 [post_content] => Name: Jacalyn Beck Education: B.S. (2011) Penn State University; Ph.D. (current) Michigan State University SFS Program: Tanzania/Kenya Fall '10 Current Work: Studying the ecology of carnivores and their prey Why did you choose SFS as a study abroad program? I chose SFS because it was the only program that offered a complete immersive experience in the region where I hoped to study. I wanted to get off the beaten path and get to know East Africa in a way that a typical tourist or student couldn’t. I wanted a program that not only allowed me to study under accomplished local scientists but also challenged me to conduct my own research and contribute meaningfully to larger scientific goals. SFS gave me that and so much more. Instead of reading about wildlife ecology, natural resource management, and policy from a book, I experienced it and learned about it first hand through interviews with community members, meetings with local government, outreach opportunities, and countless trips in the field. I felt like there was never a wasted moment. SFS was everything I had hoped it would be and yet more than I could have ever imagined. What is your most profound or lasting memory from your SFS program? It’s truly impossible to pick! I could write a novel with all the amazing memories I made during my time with SFS. But what I really believe was most profound is not a memory at all, but a feeling. The thing I cherish over all else is the complete sense of excitement and contentment that pervaded everything we did during the program. Yes, there were times of stress while studying or collecting data, of course there were moments I felt tired or confused or frustrated over some small thing. But really there was never a time in my life when I felt happier or more alive than I did during those months in Kenya and Tanzania. It was the sense of family I built with others in the program, the acceptance and love I felt from the community and staff, the sense of accomplishment in the work I was a part of. As our then-director Dr. Moses Okello would say, “my cup of joy was overflowing!” What advice would you give to a prospective SFS student? I would tell every prospective SFS student to never give up on themselves or their goals. SFS students are ambitious, curious, and compassionate. They are the type of people who chase dreams and change the world. If that describes you, then never lose sight of that despite life’s many challenges and setbacks. If you hold on to your passions, work hard, and never settle, you cannot fail. What are you working on now? I am currently a Ph.D. student at Michigan State University. I work in the RECaP Lab (Research on the Ecology of Carnivores and their Prey -- alongside some of the best scientists I have ever met. Together we work to study predator-prey interactions and support the conservation of species all around the globe. The two main ecosystems we currently focus on are the Cleveland Metroparks where we investigate how carnivores and their prey thrive in an urban landscape, and Eastern Africa where our research efforts span from giraffe skin disease to lion depredation of livestock to illegal snaring of predators. For now, what I do is all preparatory. I began working towards my Ph.D. last fall (2016) and have spent the last two semesters taking a few classes, grant writing, and planning my research. I was recently awarded a Graduate Research Fellowship through the National Science Foundation (NSF GRFP). This was my third attempt at the grant and final year of eligibility. So to finally achieve it on my last try means so much. This is a huge honor and gives me a leg up as I pursue my lion research over the coming years. With this award I am more ready than ever to get back to Africa and get to work! I will be heading to Tanzania this summer to start the first phase of my study. This will entail direct collaboration with local herders, conducting focal animal observations on the behavior of cattle and other livestock, and collecting data on the biotic and abiotic factors driving direct and indirect interaction between lions and cattle. The main focus this summer will be to investigate the ways in which cows may alter their behavior in locations of high predation risk. This work will be the basis of my dissertation research overall as I dig deeper into how individual variation in behavior plays a role in human-carnivore conflict. I will continue this theme over the next several years by collaring, following, and monitoring the fine-scale movement patterns and behaviors of all individuals within a lion pride. I hope to gain new insight into the ecology of predator-prey interaction that may lead to decreased conflict in the region. Did your SFS experience contribute to where you ended up? Absolutely! I always knew I wanted to work with large carnivores and have been passionate about studying African species since college. My time at SFS Kenya/Tanzania, however, really opened my eyes to the human aspects of wildlife management in the region. The people I met and worked with were so passionate about finding solutions to their wildlife conflict issues that I was absolutely inspired to help them achieve that goal, and have been ever since. After leaving Africa in 2010, I worked continuously to build the skills and experiences necessary to qualify me to take on this role as a professional scientist. Now, as a Ph.D. student, I will be doing just that. And SFS continues to support my efforts and contribute to where I am headed. I will be working in collaboration with Dr. Bernard Kissui (who now holds the title of director at SFS Tanzania, and who was my professor of wildlife management when I attended the program) and the Tarangire Lion Project that he heads. Sharing data and resources with Dr. Kissui and SFS is an integral part of my research design. My partnership with SFS not only influences my success as a graduate student, but also my own sense of personal accomplishment. I am extremely proud to be an SFS alumna and to continue my work with the program! What advice do you have for other SFS alumni looking to get into your field? SFS alumni looking to start a Ph.D. should remember to try to be patient. As with the current job market, there are more qualified people pursuing graduate education than there are openings. Be persistent and be professional. Do not get discouraged. Occasionally, all the pieces fall into place and the path leading to a PhD is clear. But more likely, it will require a whole lot of time, effort, and patience on your part. [post_title] => Alumni Profile: Jacalyn Beck [post_excerpt] => I am more ready than ever to get back to Africa and get to work! 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Berkeley, A.B. in Biochemistry; Stanford University, M.A. in Education and Teaching Credential; Alliant International University, M.A. in School Counseling SFS Program: Ecuador Summer 1988 - Jatun Sacha Biological Center (Ethnobotanical Studies) Profession: Science Teacher and College Counselor Why did you choose SFS as a study abroad program? It seems like a million years ago but I still remember clearly why I chose SFS. I wanted an adventure. I had been a serious and focused student throughout my life. I wanted to try something completely different and a little bit scary. At SFS, I was still serious and focused but I was also in the Amazonian Rain Forest! Coming from San Francisco, that seemed just about as adventurous as life could get for a inner city kid. At the time, I thought I was very, very brave. And it was different back then. I was literally cut off from contact with everyone I knew in the world. There were no phones, no computers, no fax machines, no connectivity. There were old-fashioned letters. But “after having seen the only town in the area, I have lost all faith in any mail getting home.” I was isolated and remote from everything I knew. And it was exactly what I wanted. As a result, I gained confidence in myself and an abiding trust in humanity. I have retained this trust throughout my life. What did you gain from your SFS experience? I developed a love for Ecuador and its people, and with that came the much broader appreciation for the wisdom and knowledge of cultures throughout the world. Our human experience is incredibly diverse and amazing. There is always more to learn and there are so many brilliant teachers. I still carry many of them with me: Jaime who taught us about forest regeneration and the interdependence of jungle species. He was the coolest! Rocio who taught us about the foods, medicines and spiritual life of the local community. She read my palm and predicted my future. David who taught us how to run controlled experiments with little ”real” equipment and massive environmental factors that were always working against us - the heat, the mud, the wind, the rain, the mold! Alejandro, who taught us to look for signs of the big dangerous snakes when we were out in the field and painted us with achiote to honor and protect us. He lived in a house on stilts with no walls in the middle of paradise. These are only a few of the people who taught me and impressed me. My fellow students from the United States were also amazing. I met adventurous, smart people from all over the country and from all different U.S. cultures. What is your most profound or lasting memory from your SFS program? (See above. Really it was the people!) But my most lasting and impactful science memory was that my experiments were all INCONCLUSIVE! This created a paradigm shift for me. After all those years of reading about successful experiment after successful experiment that led ‘seamlessly’ to our current scientific dogma and after all those high school and college labs that ‘worked’, I realized that the MAJORITY of SCIENCE EXPERIMENTS are FAILURES! I spent countless hours, trying to figure out why there was no plant growth at the base of the Piperacea trees in the forest. I ran controlled experiment, after controlled experiment carefully testing the different possibilities. Nothing, nothing and nothing. I didn’t make any great discovery or even gain any insight into the question. I was seriously disappointed. Now, I very consciously teach my own students that failed experiments are normal and expected. Successful experiments are rare. I challenge the science history found in textbooks. My students do ‘real’ experiments in my classes. They fail. They are inconclusive. But they always learn something. The focus becomes what next? What can we improve to make this experiment better? Scientific thinking is the basis for all my teaching. Experiencing real science is the thing I plan for. It is what engages my students as active learners. What advice would you give to a prospective SFS student? Go for it! Be scared, be nervous, be apprehensive but do it anyway. Your limits will be tested. You will look back and realize that those were some of the most fulfilling times in your life. What do you do for work? I am a science teacher and a college counselor in the public school system. Every day, I work with high school students from varied backgrounds. I get to help them learn academically and plan for their futures. My job entails a lot of prepping, logistics, communication, love, support, patience, dedication and belief in the future. It also requires collaboration with other education professionals and community organizations. Everyday, there are hundreds of things that come at me that I have to deal with. I have to keep a class of 35 students engaged and on task, as I mull over what to do about a student who is in an inappropriate foster care situation. I have to respond to anxious parents as I write letters of recommendation for their children and collect data for the principal to take to the board meeting. I have to monitor the academic progress of my students who may not graduate, contact the Special Education teacher and grade yesterday’s science labs. Oh - and I have to pick up Elodea, crickets and soil for the lab rotations on Monday! Most recently, I was hired to revise the remedial science curriculum for our school district. Students who fail science classes must take credit recovery classes after school, on Saturdays or in dreaded summer school. In the past, most of these “science” classes were textbook and worksheet-based. They were dreary and not very educational. You could hardly call them science classes. I had a budget and the freedom to redesign and implement a new curriculum. Now, these classes are hands-on, inquiry-based and student-centered. The teachers enjoy teaching the curriculum and the students prefer the active learning - even if they still have to go to summer school. Did your SFS experience contribute to where you ended up? The SFS experience absolutely enriched my abilities to be an effective science teacher and contributed to where I ended up. I was exposed to teachers and students who were working off the grid, in the field. They were gritty and resourceful, engaged and curious. I wanted to bring that energy, determination and resourcefulness back to San Francisco for city kids to experience. What advice do you have for other SFS alumni looking to get into your field? Teaching is the most important job in the world and it is the most difficult job in the world. Teacher burnout is brutal and destructive to our society. Teachers need to be paid much, much more and the workload needs to be reduced. Most people can not financially afford to be teachers anymore and most drop out after a few short years of teaching. You can plan on that or you can commit to the long haul and make it work for you. If you are a science teacher, you have a great value to school communities. Figure out how to maximize your value. In order to remain a science teacher, I have had to negotiate and redefine myself to make it work for me. Otherwise, I would have dropped out a long time ago too. Find the right school community to work in. Look for collaborative, supportive, joyful learning environments. Find excellent mentor teachers and administrators who value teachers more than politics. Stay tough and stay gritty. Always bring love to the job! [post_title] => Alumni Profile: Beth Alberts [post_excerpt] => The SFS experience absolutely enriched my abilities to be an effective science teacher and contributed to where I ended up. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => alumni-profile-beth-alberts [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:29 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:29 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2017/07/alumni-profile-beth-alberts/ [menu_order] => 223 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 5465 [nid] => 4613 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => {"rows":[]} [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 5465 ) [1] => Array ( [ID] => 3972 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2012-06-08 09:35:16 [post_date_gmt] => 2012-06-08 09:35:16 [post_content] => Becky Halvorsen, SFS East Africa Fall ’10, has a thrilling story about camping in the Serengeti: “One of the night guards, named Askari Bora, spoke hardly any English but he made fantastic animal noises,” she said. “He did a particularly awesome hyena impression. ‘Fisi hehehehehehe, Askari Bora BAM BAM BAM,’ he would say, while pantomiming thwacking a hyena with his club. During the middle of the night I woke up to that cackling hyena noise. All I could think was, 'Askari Bora, it is the middle of the night, why are you making animal noises outside our tent?' Then I heard a roar and I realized that wasn't a human making those noises! When we got up in the morning we were told that lions had killed a zebra on one side of camp and the hyenas on the other side were trying to steal their kill. We were in the middle of a battle for dinner! It made me appreciate our night guards all the more.” This was exactly what she had signed on for. When she chose SFS Kenya/Tanzania over other study abroad programs, she was hoping for close encounters with the beautiful and unique animals of the savanna – elephants, lions, wildebeest, hyenas, zebras, giraffes, hippos, and more. However, she was also seeking an experience that would go beyond any sort of typical safari tourist experience. “I wanted to be working and living with the local people,” she said. Becky’s semester in Kenya and Tanzania provided her with opportunities to get to know some of the Maasai villagers, including a day-long homestay with a local family. “I spent the morning playing with a little four year old girl. We played head-shoulders-knees-and-toes in Swahili, we drew in the dirt, and we played other games common with little kids at home. When we were walking to the river to get water, she held my hand. At one point, her little brother came up a tried to take my other hand. She stopped him and redirected him to Kate, the other SFS student, with a comment that I could not quite understand, but the gist of it was: this is my mzungu, or white person, you can have that one.” “I ended up falling in love with the people there,” said Becky. “It was one of the experiences that helped me make up my mind about pursuing a career in medicine.” This July, Becky is returning to Kenya with SFS to participate in the field practicum in public health and environment. She is looking forward to spending more time focusing on the environmental issues that affect the health of rural Kenyan communities, like access to clean water and quality health services. After the program, she will spend six months volunteering with Nyumbani Village, a self-sustained community that pairs orphans and elders who have lost their families to the HIV pandemic. “It will be another life changing experience and I think I will come out of it feeling more prepared to conquer even bigger goals, including medical school, which I will start in the fall,” she said. Good luck, Becky, with all your future adventures! [post_title] => Alumni Profile: Becky Halvorsen [post_excerpt] => Becky Halvorsen has a thrilling story about camping in the Serengeti. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => alumni-profile-becky-halvorsen [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:25 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:25 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2012/06/alumni-profile-becky-halvorsen/ [menu_order] => 1112 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 3972 [nid] => 3447 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 3972 ) [2] => Array ( [ID] => 3995 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2012-07-13 09:15:57 [post_date_gmt] => 2012-07-13 09:15:57 [post_content] => As I filled out my immigration form, I realized that I didn’t have the address. Crap. I remembered my passport, snorkel gear, bathing suit, AAA batteries for the site manager, espresso roast coffee for the environmental policy professor, but I forgot to get the address for the Center. I scribbled down “South Caicos” and hoped that the agent would not ask too many questions. When it was my turn, I walked up to the counter and presented my papers. “You are going to South Caicos?” the uniformed border agent asked. “Yes,” I replied. “With The School for Field Studies?” he asked. “Yes.” “Okay, go ahead,” he said, waiving me through. Whew! I was glad they know us at the airport. I walked through Provo’s small airport and into Gillie’s restaurant. I ordered a cold red Gatorade and watched CNN on the television. Obama’s healthcare law had been upheld by the Supreme Court by a narrow margin. Sitting in this Caribbean café, The US seemed very far away. Sanjay Gupta was describing the verdict and its implications for health care in the states, but I hurried along to catch my flight on TCI Air. It was a small propeller jet with only eight seats, but we cruised along with few bumps over the azure water. At the South Caicos airport, Center Director Heidi Hertler picked me up in the passenger van. It was bigger than my airplane. Heidi not only runs our Marine Resource Studies program in the Turks and Caicos Islands, but she is also an alumna herself, having participated in an SFS program in the Virgin Islands in 1987. “It changed my life,” she said. Before her SFS experience, Heidi was pre-med at Bates College. After diving and studying marine life for a summer session, she made a swift shift in her career path to oceanography and environmental studies. I arrived at the field station, and my mouth dropped open. It is perched up on a cliff with a truly spectacular, panoramic view of the ocean. I was dazzled, and a bit disoriented, by its beauty, but I managed to pull myself together for a site tour with the Student Affairs Manager and SFS alumna Kimbrough Mauney (TCI Summer ’00). The field station, formerly a hotel called the “Admiral’s Arms Inn,” has been our home in the Caribbean since 1990. There is an outdoor dining area, kitchen, pool, dormitory, and classroom. Down the steps, past the scuba dive shed and the remains of an old sea salt storage facility, there is a dock where we keep three boats. According to Kimbrough, not much has changed at the Center or in the community of South Caicos since she was a student here in the summer of 2000. There are a number of new tourism developments being built, however, so change looms on the horizon. That night, I had a chance to visit the future site of one of these developments when I tagged along with the students on a camping trip. The wide sandy beach is adjacent to property owned by Sailrock, an American company building eco-friendly residences.  We pitched our tents on sand as white as sugar, then gathered around a bonfire for marshmallows and charades. As the fire burned down to coals, I crawled into the tent and slept like a rock. The next morning we piled in the van to head to the old Coast Guard lookout. Alumna and waterfront assistant Chrissy Lamendola (TCI Spring ’10), led us on a “lazy river” snorkel, floating with the current around mangroves. I saw a giant barracuda and a flounder, along with many smaller tropical fish. That night, back at the Center, we had a demonstration on how to crack upon a conch shell and clean it. You tap the top part with the hammer to loosen its grip, then use a long, sharp knife to extract the animal and clean away the organs. That night, we dined on delicious conch fritters! I tried to get the recipe, but exact quantities were hard to come by! “Add a little ground up conch, put in a little flour and some red peppers and onions, then deep fry in hot oil.” Conch is one of the main fisheries on the island, alongside spiny lobster. I wasn’t able to taste the lobster since it is not in season, but I saw many of them tucked in coral-covered crevices while snorkeling! An excursion to another soon-to-be operating tourist development on the island, East Bay, was postponed, so the students had extra time to prepare for their upcoming exam on resource management and marine protected areas. Since I work in alumni relations at SFS, I gave a quick talk about the SFS alumni community and the amazing feats our students go on to accomplish. I have a feeling that we will be hearing great things from this group in the future. The next morning at 7am, I was awoken early by blaring music from the local Haitian church. It must have been quite the party! The preacher interspersed sermons in French and English with pop music by Celine Dion and Brittany Spears. With “Hit Me Baby One More Time,” now stuck in my head, I wandered into the dining room for breakfast. That morning, after site cleanup, students were either diving or snorkeling, and I joined the snorkeling group for a trip out the Long Cay. Kimbrough was my “buddy” and she pointed out spiny lobster, French grunts, flamingo tongues, an eel, and a school of barracuda. Somehow, I missed the octopus and eagle rays that the students spotted! Later that afternoon, we invited the local island children to the field station for swimming lessons, games, and art projects. Lena Weiss, an alumna from TCI summer 2011, helped arrange a donation of numerous children’s swimsuits from the Swimmers Choice store in Syosset, New York, so there were plenty of suits to go around. I manned the coloring station and invited children to color transparent pages of tropical fish. We hung them on the rafter and they flitted in the breeze. Sunday, my last day on the island, is a free day for staff and students. I took a long walk around town, snapping photos of the dilapidated former Governor’s mansion, the regatta where Queen Elizabeth once landed her royal yacht, the elementary school decorated with a beautiful mural painted by SFS students, and the local shops, bars, and churches. After dinner, Kimbrough was kind enough to take me on a night snorkel, where our flashlights illuminated the nooks and crannies of the rocks and coral. She dove down to scoop up a sea cucumber and pointed out a puffer fish. Unfortunately, the puffer fish was too fast for me; it darted under a rock before I had time to set my eyes upon it! Before I knew it, it was time to head home! It was incredible to be able to spend some time with this amazing group of students and this dedicated, talented staff. I hope to be able to return someday, and maybe next time, I will see an eagle ray! [post_title] => HQ in the Field [post_excerpt] => The field station, formerly a hotel called the "Admiral’s Arms Inn," has been our home in the Caribbean since 1990. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => hq-in-the-field [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:25 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:25 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2012/07/hq-in-the-field/ [menu_order] => 1088 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 3995 [nid] => 3463 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 3995 ) [3] => Array ( [ID] => 4006 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2012-07-19 09:23:16 [post_date_gmt] => 2012-07-19 09:23:16 [post_content] => On a recent trip to the SFS field station in the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI), SFS staff member Marta Brill had a chance to sit down and chat with two of our newest waterfront interns, Chrissy Lamendola and Amanda Greenstein. Both of these diving safety rock stars attended the University of San Diego and participated in the SFS-TCI program as students. Chrissy was here in Spring 2010, and Amanda came along the next year with the Spring 2011 cohort. Read on to find out about the life of an SFS intern, where “just another day at the office” sometimes means swimming with hammerhead sharks. Marta Brill: So, how did you first find out about SFS? CHRISSY: I found out about SFS my freshman year in the mailroom, of all places. I saw one of the posters hanging up there with cards to tear off, and I thought, ‘This seems awesome!’ I tore off one of the little slips and held on to it until my junior year, when I looked into all the programs and got really excited. What attracted me to the TCI program specifically was all the diving and snorkeling that you could do. AMANDA: University of San Diego is an affiliated school, so there are posters everywhere and they also have meetings scheduled regularly where SFS alumni show pictures and answer questions from students. I remember going to a session and thinking, ‘This sounds so cool.’ I went with TCI because I wanted to be in the water as much as possible, and I wanted to dive. MB: And, looking back on your time as a student, is there a particular memory or moment that stands out in your mind? CHRISSY: When I was going through customs, on my first day, the man reviewing my paperwork told me about the lionfish problem. I had no idea what he was talking about. But he said to me, ‘You have to do something about the lionfish.’ When I got to the Center, I found out that that was a Directed Research project I could do. So, I jumped on it. AMANDA: I remember my first dive at the grotto. We went down to sixty feet and I saw a reef shark for the first time and I was blown away. My heart was pounding out of my chest, I was so excited. It was a really special moment.  I was stunned by the beauty of the water and the diving and the whole experience. This was very early in the semester, but I was already thinking, ‘This place is incredible.’ MB: What do you think you gained from your semester? What were the real takeaways? AMANDA: I felt a major tie to the community here on South Caicos. I really got to know what this place was all about. Many people who come to the Turks and Caicos come as tourists, but I had a very different experience than that. I was immersed in the culture here and I got a deep understanding of what some of the real issues are. It is not as simple as just saving the environment. You have to think about the social and economic aspects. CHRISSY: When I first arrived, I was freaked out by how isolated South Caicos is, even though of course, you still have access to all the essentials. But, that isolation forced me really look inside myself and figure out who I was as a person. In the absence of external influences, l could figure out who I really was, what I liked and what I didn’t like. Plus, I came away with strong friendships with students from all around the US and in other countries. MB: Tell me what motivated the two of you to come back here and work for us as interns? CHRISSY: I never wanted to leave. When Amanda came back from her semester we met up for lunch, and she said, ‘We are both going to get our dive masters, and then we are both going to go back as interns.’ And I thought, ‘Sure, okay, we’ll see if that really happens.’ But, a year later, here we are! AMANDA: I knew halfway into the semester that I wanted to be an intern here. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do after I graduated. This seemed like the perfect opportunity and I loved what the program gave me. And I really like the environment here, the feel of the whole Center; the relationship between the students and the staff is really close, like family. MB: Can you describe a typical day for an intern at SFS-TCI? CHRISSY: Wake up.  Go to two or more meetings. Then you do your morning duties, which could be equipment checks or whatnot. Then, depending on the day of the week, you’re either diving and snorkeling, or doing research field activities, or just basic boat or mooring maintenance. Next, it is lunch, which you are always ready for. In the afternoon, you do field exercises with the students or go on a field trip with them. Then dinner, and then sometimes you do a night dive or a night snorkel. MB: And how is it going so far? Any good stories? AMANDA:  Well, on our first dive back here we went to the arch, and after about five minutes, a hammerhead shark swam by. Then, at the end of the dive, we saw a pod of five dolphins and a huge turtle. And I thought, ‘This is incredible. If this is any sign of the year to come, this is going to be awesome.’ It was the best dive you could imagine. CHRISSY: It was a sign! MB: What do you think is next for you? Do you have a dream career in mind? AMANDA: I am hoping that this year will give me a better idea of what I really want to do. I am interested to see what opportunities might come from this experience. I can explore what specific area of marine science I want to eventually pursue in grad school. CHRISSY: I want to do marine mammal rehabilitation and a big part of that is education. By working here, I get a lot of diving experience, but at the same time, I get education experience. This should help my resume stand out. [post_title] => A Day in the Life of an SFS Intern [post_excerpt] => SFS staff member Marta Brill sits down and chats with two alumni and our newest waterfront interns, Chrissy Lamendola and Amanda Greenstein. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => a-day-in-the-life-of-an-sfs-intern [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:25 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:25 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2012/07/a-day-in-the-life-of-an-sfs-intern/ [menu_order] => 1086 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 4006 [nid] => 3473 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 4006 ) [4] => Array ( [ID] => 4023 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2012-08-07 09:32:32 [post_date_gmt] => 2012-08-07 09:32:32 [post_content] => Jeffrey Flocken (SFS Kenya Summer '90) is the DC Office Director at the International Fund for Animal Welfare. He recently coauthored a book called Wildlife Heroes with fellow conservationist Julie Scardina that has been featured on the TODAY SHOW, the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, NPR, and Sirius Radio, and has received endorsements from celebrities like Ted Danson, Jack Hanna and Dr. Jane Goodall. All profits from the book will support wildlife conservation efforts. I had always wanted to help wildlife; however, I wasn't sure in what capacity. SFS offered the opportunity to experience conservation first-hand and get a feel for what it would mean to work in the field as a wildlife researcher. I'd always dreamed of studying wildlife in Africa. SFS was exactly what I was looking for.

The course attracted amazing people! I actually met and shared a hut with a student who ended up being the best man in my wedding fifteen years later. He was the first vegetarian I had ever met, and he inspired me to give up meat as well (22 years and still going). We bonded over the experience of studying in Africa and our passion for wildlife conservation, and we stayed friends for years. He died tragically of cancer two years ago, but before he did he worked in the Peace Corps and started an organization in southern Africa helping people with AIDS. Since graduating, I have run into other students and instructors from my class who have also devoted their lives to wildlife conservation and the environmental movement. The funny thing is, although I was looking to gain field experience, and I really did love it, my time at SFS helped me decide that I, personally, could do more good for conservation with policy work than with field research. As soon as I got back to the University of Michigan, I switched my focus from science to pre-law and have been doing wildlife conservation from a policy and education perspective ever since. Some of my career highlights have included spending two months in India filming a documentary on tigers, creating the flagship endangered species program for a national conservation group, traveling the Brazilian Pantanal for an educational wildlife expedition, and working for the U.S. government on an annual 10-million dollar grant program to help internationally endangered species. Five years ago, I was offered the job of DC Office Director for the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW). In this position, I head-up U.S. policy for an international organization that carries out wildlife conservation and animal welfare projects in over thirty countries around the world. I work with a staff of dedicated professionals (lobbyists, lawyers, communicators, and policy experts) who analyze opportunities for creating or improving U.S. wildlife policy to better conserve wildlife and promote animal welfare. This means working with government officials, businesses, scientists, congressmen, or fellow conservationists -- whatever is necessary to promote and advance sound wildlife practices in the U.S. I was also one of the lead authors on a petition to list African lions as Endangered under the US Endangered Species Act – which if successful, will save hundreds of imperiled lions from needless deaths every year. I saw my first wild elephants when I was on the SFS course in Kenya. Now, many years later, I was directly part of a victory that will stop thousands of elephant ivory pieces from being sold online. My office speared-headed an investigation into U.S. websites being used as platforms for buying and selling endangered species and their parts, in particular the sale of elephant ivory. As a direct result of our work, the world’s largest buyer-seller website, eBay, agreed to ban ivory on all their sites. This victory means fewer opportunities for selling ivory from poached elephants, a species still seriously threatened with extinction. Recently, I ventured into new career territory: wildlife author. I coauthored a book called Wildlife Heroes with a fellow conservationist Julie Scardina. In it, we profile 40 real-life conservationists and the animals -- and the threats to biodiversity -- that they are dedicated to working on. We wrote the book because we've both been so inspired by individuals we've come into contact with around the world saving animals, and we wanted to share their stories. The wildlife crisis our world faces is huge, but luckily there are amazing individuals tackling the problem. Sales have happily surpassed expectations. Apparently people are eager to hear inspiring stories about helping animals, as we’re on our third printing since it was released in March 2012. It helps that we've gotten good media attention from outlets including the TODAY SHOW, the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, NPR, and Sirius Radio, as well as endorsements from celebrities like Ted Danson, Jack Hanna and Dr. Jane Goodall. And, my coauthor and I are giving 100% of our profits to wildlife conservation, so all sales help animals, which I think makes people feel good about buying the book itself.

Interviewing 40 of my personal heroes was amazing. Many I already knew from my own wildlife conservation career, but every one of them inspired me all over again after learning anew about their unique contributions to saving wildlife. I am so obsessed with animals that I can’t help but be starry-eyed when I talk to people who have dedicated their lives to saving them. Without a doubt, I got where I am today because I am passionate and committed to wildlife conservation. I always knew what I wanted to do, and I pursued it with vigor, taking advantage of every opportunity to learn more about the field and meet people involved in it. For anyone interested in pursuing a career path like mine, I advise you to network aggressively and don’t be afraid to take chances. And most importantly, take advantage of every opportunity to get out into the field and see the animals you are working to protect. That is what keeps you motivated! Meet more SFS alumni [post_title] => Alumni Profile: Jeff Flocken [post_excerpt] => Jeffrey Flocken (SFS Kenya Summer '90) is the DC Office Director at the International Fund for Animal Welfare. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => alumni-profile-jeff-flocken [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:25 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:25 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2012/08/alumni-profile-jeff-flocken/ [menu_order] => 1074 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 4023 [nid] => 3486 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 4023 ) [5] => Array ( [ID] => 4033 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2012-09-05 13:10:01 [post_date_gmt] => 2012-09-05 13:10:01 [post_content] => “When I got back here, I wanted to jump right in the water and say hi to the French grunts,” said Kimbrough Mauney, Student Affairs Manager at the SFS Center for Marine Resource Students in the Turks and Caicos Islands. “They are still there! And really, not much has changed in twelve years, other than some concentrated tourist development. There is a new road and about 3000 more hotel rooms in the works.” French Grunts She first got acquainted with the island of South Caicos, its beaches and reefs, and its vibrant and diverse marine animals while an SFS student in the summer of 2000. “I knew I wanted to study the oceans. This was a perfect summer opportunity. At SFS, the academics were demanding, and the professors had rigorous credentials. I appreciated that. Developing a strong relationship with them made me want to keep pushing myself throughout my studies. They were passionate about their research, and had traveled the world pursuing their subjects, and I wanted to be like that.” After graduating with a B.S. in oceanography from Duke University, Kimbrough pursued a master’s degree in environmental education at the Western Washington University. She moved to Anchorage, Alaska seven years ago, where she managed a high ropes challenge course and rock wall, expanded her knowledge on Pacific Ocean issues and important species (such as salmon and tidal zone invertebrates), and contributed to numerous local environmental and educational initiatives focused on reducing food waste. Kimbrough has returned to SFS-TCI as a staff member overseeing student affairs, safety and risk management, community outreach, and the smooth operation of daily life at the field station. “I want the students to enjoy themselves, to stay safe and healthy, to do their academics well, and to do their fun time well. But, I also hope they say to themselves ‘wow, that was a cool professor. I want to be like that someday. I want to be that passionate about my research.’ I want them to say ‘research is cool, professors who do research get to do cool things.’” She said she also hopes that students take away an appreciation for the simple things. “This is a developing community, and it is different than what students are used to back home. We appreciate avocadoes here because we don’t get them often,” she said. “We appreciate bananas and fresh water. When they return home, I hope students remember what it is like to live with limited resources.” From their first days on the island, students are taught about constraints on water, food, and electricity, and they are asked to live sustainably within these limitations. For example, students are asked to take just one freshwater shower per week, turn off the lights and fan when they are not necessary, and be mindful about not wasting food. “It is a great program, and it is academically strong. I am so happy to be a part of it,” she said. Meet more SFS alumni [post_title] => Alumni Profile: Kimbrough Mauney [post_excerpt] => I knew I wanted to study the oceans. This was a perfect summer opportunity. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => alumni-profile-kimbrough-mauney [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:25 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:25 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2012/09/alumni-profile-kimbrough-mauney/ [menu_order] => 1067 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 4033 [nid] => 3492 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 4033 ) [6] => Array ( [ID] => 4049 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2012-09-26 07:15:24 [post_date_gmt] => 2012-09-26 07:15:24 [post_content] => The SFS Center for Rainforest Studies - known affectionately as Warrawee - is turning 25! For the past quarter-century, staff and students at CRS, alongside community partners, have contributed to the reforestation and preservation of the World Heritage-listed Wet Tropics. Help us celebrate this milestone by designing a limited-edition t-shirt. The winning design will be featured on a commemorative t-shirt, and proceeds from the sale of this shirt will support our program in Australia. The winning artist will receive a gift certificate to The SFS Store! Contest Guidelines
  • Only SFS alumni and current students are eligible.
  • You must incorporate The School for Field Studies, Australia, and Warrawee’s 25th Anniversary into the design.
  • Your design may include line art and text but no photographs. Please limit your design to 5 colors, including black.
  • Your design is for the front of the shirt and may encompass an area up to 10 x 10.
  • The design must be your own original work and must not include any third-party logos or copyrighted material. By entering the contest, you agree that your submission is your own work.
Submitting an Entry
  • Please submit high-resolution images in .eps, .jpg, or .png formats. Max file size: 2MB.
  • Submit images electronically to alumni@fieldstudies.org, with the file name as your last name.
  • Submissions are accepted until Friday, November 2nd, 2012.
The Fine Print
  • The School for Field Studies reserves the right to make changes to the winning design before printing, including changes in image size or ink color or t-shirt color.
  • By submitting your design, you grant permission for your design to be used by SFS including, but not limited to, the website, the t-shirt, and future marketing materials.
  • SFS reserves the right to final decision.
[post_title] => 25th Anniversary "Design a T-Shirt" Contest [post_excerpt] => The SFS Center for Rainforest Studies - known affectionately as Warrawee - is turning 25! [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 25th-anniversary-design-a-t-shirt-contest [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:25 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:25 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2012/09/25th-anniversary-design-a-t-shirt-contest/ [menu_order] => 1053 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 4049 [nid] => 3507 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 4049 ) [7] => Array ( [ID] => 4076 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2012-10-19 09:21:22 [post_date_gmt] => 2012-10-19 09:21:22 [post_content] => SFS alumna Jen (Loose) Ryan Costa Rica Spring ’94 learned a lot from riding the buses through Central America, even if she did not realize it at the time. “Looking at the massive erosion from certain agricultural practices gave me a sense of how important good environmental laws and regulations are. I saw for myself what happens when you don’t have that kind of structure. And I think that led me to the kind of work I am doing now. It took me a while to get here, but that experience planted a seed in the back of my mind that laws and regulations are tremendously important.” For the past six years, Ryan held the position of Legislative Director for Massachusetts Audubon, where she advocated for laws and policies on Boston’s Beacon Hill to protect the nature of Massachusetts. She recently left to spend time at home with her two young children before she embarks on the next phase of her career. “Advocacy is a lot of fun,” said Ryan. “It is always varied, so you get to meet a whole range of people and work on a range of issues. It has been a tremendous experience for me personally and professionally.” “Massachusetts Audubon is working vigorously to defend the state’s endangered species act," said Ryan, "which is under attack from a small number of land owners and developers who are trying to roll back endangered species protection. They are also focused on reducing carbon emissions and tackling climate change by creating incentives for environmentally responsible green energy in Massachusetts, and providing incentives for communities to reduce their energy use, use higher efficiency cars, and deploy clean energy.” There is no official career path for getting into advocacy work, although it helps to be good at building relationships and have a strong attention to detail. Ryan arrived at her position on Beacon Hill through studies in entomology. Yes, that’s right. Bugs. “I love the beauty and complexity of insects,” she said. “They are a whole other universe on another scale than we normally operate in, and they are fascinating in their variety, especially in a place like the rainforest where the number of tree species per acres is higher than anywhere else and the numbers of insect species are too.  And when you look at them under a magnifying scope, they are complex and beautiful with colors and forms that you wouldn’t expect.” As an undergraduate student at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, Ryan was contemplating switching her major from anthropology to evolutionary biology and ecology before embarking on her SFS program. Her study abroad experience with SFS Costa Rica, and the wide range of biodiversity she encountered there, inspired her to take the plunge. “I went back, switched my major, and got a job working in the lab of Dr. David Wagner, an entomologist at the University of Connecticut. It took me an extra year of college to finish, but I did some great work with moths and butterflies and gypsy moth control in the national forest of West Virginia.” She went on to pursue graduate work in entomology, and got her Master’s from the University of Maine in Orono. She began working as a conservation biologist for the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife’s Natural Heritage and Endangered Species program. After five years of doing field work and permitting for the Commonwealth, she began to move into inter-agency policy work, especially around public health issues regarding insect borne diseases including eastern equine encephalitis and West Nile virus. “The more I got involved with regulatory work, the more I felt like for me, personally, I could do more good on a broader scale on the policy side of things than I could with site specific or on the ground work.” Just this summer, after six years of effort, Ryan and her team successfully advocated for updates to the Massachusetts Community Preservation Act, which provides funding at the local level for land conservation, affordable housing, historic preservation, and recreational assets. This will help communities to use ‘smart growth’ principles, protect their historic resources, have safe playgrounds for kids, and protect open space.  To date, the Community Preservation Act has resulted in over 15,000 acres of natural areas protected in the Commonwealth.  It is a great example of how environmental advocacy makes a difference in our towns, and in our lives. Meet more SFS alumni [post_title] => Alumni Profile: Jen Ryan [post_excerpt] => SFS alumna Jen (Loose) Ryan learned a lot from riding the buses through Central America, even if she did not realize it at the time. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => alumni-profile-jen-ryan [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:25 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:25 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2012/10/alumni-profile-jen-ryan/ [menu_order] => 1034 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 4076 [nid] => 3528 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 4076 ) [8] => Array ( [ID] => 4078 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2012-10-23 09:37:52 [post_date_gmt] => 2012-10-23 09:37:52 [post_content] => This post was originally written and published by Jaymi Heimbuch on Treehugger.com. Follow Jaymi and the Oceanic Society on Twitter. © Wayne Sentman In the photo above, a group is being taught how to measure leatherback sea turtles, thanks to a couple human volunteers. And, the photo above illustrates a lot of what Wayne Sentman does as a biologist and tour leader with Oceanic Society, a nonprofit conservation group. Traveling the world, Sentman takes small groups of people ("voluntourists" with Oceanic Society) everywhere from remote atolls in the middle of the Pacific Ocean to wildlife reserves in Kenya, teaching participants about the wonders of the natural world and engaging them in field work themselves. Here's Sentman in his business suit: © Wayne Sentman I first met Sentman at the airport in Honolulu. A friend and I were picking him up on our way to another airport, this time for a plane taking us all out to Midway Atoll. During the week I spent with Wayne, throwing question after question at him and hearing not only interesting answers to the questions but stories about his travels and studies as well, it occurred to me that this guy really has one of the most amazing jobs in the world. So, putting aside questions about endangered sea turtles and monk seals for once, I asked him about his job. © Wayne Sentman So, you have one of the coolest jobs in the world. You travel the globe with Oceanic Society teaching groups of people about amazing ecosystems and conservation efforts to preserve them, from Midway to Belize to Kenya. How did you land this gig? A bit of luck and a lot of post-undergraduate, poorly paid seasonal wildlife biologist jobs. Right out of college I participated in a School for Field Studies Wildlife Management semester in Kenya program. It was here that I really understood that I wanted my "office" to be outdoors, and that I wanted to work with on the ground conservation programs. Next I ended up working as a kayak guide in Loreto, Baja California Sur, Mexico for a wonderful group called Sea Quest Expeditions where I first had the opportunity to share my love of the outdoors with groups of "eco-tourists." Leading week long self-contained kayaking trips in the Sea of Cortez, having fin whales glide under my kayak, only cemented my desire to figure out how to keep doing this kind of work. Finally in 1998 I ended up moving from San Francisco to Hawaii, helping to monitor endangered Hawaiian monk seals on remote Midway Atoll for the National Marine Fisheries Service. It was here that things all started to come together. Oceanic Society had worked out a partnership with US Fish & Wildlife Service to utilize paying tourists or eco-volunteers to assist in monitoring the monk seals on Midway. I was finally able to combine my love of science and research with education. Over the last 14 years, with Oceanic Society I have been able to use my background in the conservation of marine ecosystems and human-wildlife conflict to travel to a variety of locations around the globe helping ecotourist groups get out and see firsthand the beauty of nature and the challenges we all face in trying to promote its conservation. © Wayne Sentman What's the most fulfilling part of your job? There are two things that I find most rewarding. The first is helping individuals that might be a bit scared of certain parts of nature to start to feel comfortable, relaxing enough so they can experience their connection with nature. On some trips in the past we have even had silent days where no one in the group says a word for the first half of the day. At these times the group is forced to truly experience the smells, sounds, and sights of where we are. It can be a powerful experience on many levels. The second most fulfilling thing is helping people on our trips be better consumers when they return home. To have them start to connect their experiential travel to their habits at home is wonderful. If you like sea turtles then how can you go home and pig out on shrimp, an industry that kills thousands of turtles? If you go to Midway and see an albatross carcass full of plastic, you will never look the same way at a plastic lighter again. Leading trips for so many years I am lucky enough to have the same individuals do multiple trips with me, I have been able to see how collectively their experiences have inspired them to look beyond their own backyard and strive to live more responsibly as part of an international community. © Wayne Sentman What's the most frustrating part of your job? How sometimes people allow the inconveniences of travel (delayed connections, bad weather, simple food, crowing roosters) to detract from the important part of what they have come to experience. Sometimes you have to put up with the mosquitoes, 6-hour canoe ride in the rain, and 4-day diet of rice and a "meat" in order to see something incredible. In fact many times it is exactly because it is so challenging to get to that some of these natural areas still exist. © Wayne Sentman How has your outlook on conservation been altered by the work you do with Oceanic Society? In working with Oceanic Society over the years I have helped to develop a variety of "voluntourism" research programs. Many of these programs have taken place over 10 years or longer. Because of this I have been able to repeatedly return to areas and see them succeed or fail in their conservation efforts. One of the things I have learned is how valuable an organization like Oceanic Society can be to International research programs by committing to these efforts not just for the term of a Master's degree but for multiple years. I have also witnessed how sharing these remote places with a concerned and interested group of people can often lead to fortifying an international constituency for otherwise "invisible" efforts. Finally returning to sites year after year has allowed me to see the benefit to local people that having the opportunity to share their culture and "backyard" nature with tourists can provide. The ability to share their nature (and occasionally benefit from that sharing) sometimes engenders a unique perspective about what it is that people have that is "valuable." Many folks that we work with in other countries go on to start or grow their own in-country businesses directed at conserving nature. As I return to these places the ones that successfully find a path to solve their conflicts always have committed local individuals that have devote great portions of their life to the effort. © Wayne Sentman What's the best comment you've ever heard from someone on an Oceanic Society tour? "I cannot believe I paid this much money to be so nervous" - Oceanic Coral reef monitoring volunteer just prior to her first Fish ID "check-out" snorkel. Whispered around 2:00 AM: " So you mean this leatherback could be older than any of us in this group?" Reply from one member of a group of four sea turtle nesting volunteers (all 65 or older) filling out a data sheet for a nesting Leatherback in Suriname. © Wayne Sentman "That was the highlight of my life! If the rest of this trip goes to hell I would not care!" - Remark from a 71-year-old Oceanic member after feeding a liter of milk to an orphaned Rhino in Kenya. Group member on an 11-day snorkeling trip in Micronesia Day 1 - "I really do not want to see any sharks, I will probably get out of the water if we see one." Day 2 - "DID YOU SEE THE SHARK IT WAS SO COOL" Day 8 - "I was trying to swim closer to the shark so I could get a better look at it." If you'd like to take part in an Oceanic Society Expedition (and you should!!) then check out the list of Expeditions they have around the world and pick a date. From Baja to Antarctica, from Midway to Kenya, from Tonga to the Galapagos, you can be part of an amazing adventure while at the same time helping to protect and preserve the places you're visiting. © Wayne Sentman [post_title] => SFS Alum Has "Coolest Job Ever" [post_excerpt] => Traveling the world, Sentman takes small groups of people ("voluntourists" with Oceanic Society) everywhere from remote atolls in the middle of the Pacific Ocean to wildlife reserves in Kenya... [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => sfs-alum-has-coolest-job-ever [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:26 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:26 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2012/10/sfs-alum-has-coolest-job-ever/ [menu_order] => 1031 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 4078 [nid] => 3530 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 4078 ) [9] => Array ( [ID] => 4104 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2012-11-14 13:17:02 [post_date_gmt] => 2012-11-14 13:17:02 [post_content] => "Farm City" was the first selection of SFS READS, our new book club! We do not have a formal meeting or membership, it's just a chance for everyone in the SFS community to come together and exchange ideas. If you have some thoughts to share on "Farm City" or urban gardening, please let us know in the comments! Novella Carpenter is an Urban Farmer. It's a label she stumbles upon while carousing at a local speakeasy and it is a perfect fit to describe her unusual lifestyle. Novella may live in "the ghetto" of Oakland, California, but that doesn't stop her from pursuing her agricultural dreams: from cultivating heirloom vegetables and fruit to keeping bees to raising poultry, rabbits, and even pigs. The obstacles she encounters are uniquely urban. She must deal with teenage gang members, neighborhood dogs, and the not-so-minor detail that she is squatting on a vacant lot destined to one day be the site of condominiums. Her creative and resourceful solutions are urban, too. She picks weeds out of sidewalk cracks to feed the  poultry, raids the Chinatown dumpster for her pigs, fashions pens out of objects discarded by the highway, and befriends a local restaurateur who shares his kitchen and techniques. During one particularly challenging month, she experiments with living completely off the land and finds that it is possible. The fruits, veggies, eggs, and rabbits are plentiful. Home-brewed tea replaces coffee. Carbs prove to be more elusive with her disappointing potato crop, but she makes do by grinding up some ornamental corncobs for pancakes. It's a moment of great accomplishment, but also great consternation. Her breath begins to stink, she is constantly hungry, and she misses the camaraderie that accompanies a great meal out at a local restaurant. In this book, it is the livestock, rather the garden, that take center stage. New farmers must learn to nourish and care for their animals, but they must also learn to kill them. This is a two-pronged process. First, you have to investigate the physical process of killing. As Novella diligently asks the advice of others and checks out books from the library, the reader gets a glimpse of what it takes to move livestock from pen to plate. Secondly, you must come to terms with ending the life of a beloved pet named Maude. Not many Americans have the experience of knowing their meat, unlike in generations past. With Novella's words, the reader gains a new respect for dinner. Throughout "Farm City," the reader is treated to Novella's bright spirit, engaging wit, and humility. She is not a "trustafarian," as she calls some members of the privileged class experimenting in agricultural side projects. She is eking out a life doing something she loves. The concept of farming the ghetto may seem a bit far-fetched at first, but her story shows that it is not only feasible, it can also be satisfying, ethical, sustainable, and a lot of fun. [post_title] => SFS Book Review: Farm City by Novella Carpenter [post_excerpt] => "Farm City" was the first selection of SFS Reads, our new book club! [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => sfs-book-review-farm-city-by-novella-carpenter [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:26 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:26 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2012/11/sfs-book-review-farm-city-by-novella-carpenter/ [menu_order] => 1011 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 4104 [nid] => 3550 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 4104 ) [10] => Array ( [ID] => 4148 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2013-01-10 12:43:18 [post_date_gmt] => 2013-01-10 12:43:18 [post_content] => There is a wooded path near my home that, until recently, welcomed runners, bikers, and dog walkers with this cautionary sign: Passing the sign on my evening runs was disheartening, but it was also intriguing. How did my quaint seaside neighborhood get so polluted anyway? I did a little research. It turns out that from about 1840 to 1906, this site was home to the Forest River Lead company, where workers produced 6,000 tons of white lead (a base ingredient for paint) per year in one of the country’s largest factories of its kind. The last building burned down in the late 1960's, and the toxic woodlands and beach lay empty and undeveloped for decades while clean-up talks and proposals went nowhere. A fence was installed to restrict access to the land and waterfront and limit possible exposure to lead, but residents still frequented the open pathway that cuts through the property. I admit it. While I did not welcome the pollution or appreciate the lack of public access to the waterfront, I found the history riveting. I liked to imagine the now quiet, empty land when it was bustling with workers, dotted with smokestacks, and humming with the clanging of 19th century industrial activity. So, when I picked up Andrew Blackwell’s book, “Visit Sunny Chernobyl,” (our SFS Reads selection for December) I could relate. The author is altogether fascinated by contaminated landscapes, and by the people that live and work there, too. But unlike me, who envisions historical degradation, Blackwell travels to toxic and filthy spots in their prime. Inspired by a chance visit to Kanpur, India and its “dysfunctional sewage treatment plants, illegal industrial dumps, poisonous tanneries, and feces strewn beaches,” he embarks on a tour of the places he deems to be “the world’s most polluted,” including Chernobyl, China’s coal country, the Western Garbage Patch, India’s Yamuna River, and the tar sand mining operations of Alberta, Canada. The book reads like a travel memoir. While it provides an excellent history and overview of each area, it focuses more on Blackwell’s personal observations and experiences. He deliberately visits them as a tourist might – checking out the local museum, taking the guided bus tour, and going for leisurely hikes and boat rides. He chats with local residents, attends local festivals, and tries to get sense of what it’s like to be part of these notorious communities. And, he does seem to have a pretty good time in these sullied and desecrated places! Along the way, he makes the case that we should start accepting and understanding the planet as it is – full of people, industry, and even waste – and not as a romanticized wilderness. Sustainable solutions to large environmental problems must take into account the people that depend on natural resources for their livelihoods. This becomes most clear for Blackwell, perhaps, in the Amazonian rainforest, where he realizes that a group of loggers can be “angels of sustainability.” It is a sentiment we often hear from SFS students, who learn to view environmental problems from an economic, political, and sociological perspective, as well as a biological one. They see the complexity of conservation work and gain an entirely new outlook after meeting with local fishermen, farmers, ranchers, and ecotourism operators. Recently, I interviewed Emma Impink Kenya Spring ’09 for an alumni profile, and here is what she had to say on the subject: “I’ll never forget one day, when I was conducting interviews during my SFS Directed Research Project, a young man in Kuku Group Ranch asked me why I, an outsider, was doing this research when someone in the local community could do it more effectively. It was a surprising moment that challenged me to really think about my role in the world and the importance of facilitating local leadership and involvement in issues. It provoked an ongoing reflection on the role of ‘outsiders’ and the potential for community partnerships to address pressing development issues. I firmly believe that without local investment and engagement, even a well-meaning intervention cannot be sustained.” These are wise words indeed. And as for my local polluted site? A deal was finally been brokered to launch a million dollar clean-up project in the area. The forest was razed, soil and sediment were excavated and removed from the site, and fresh, uncontaminated sand and dirt were brought in. By April 2012, the digging and filling was complete, and workers began planting new trees and shrubs. The sign has been removed, and when I take an evening run, I pass green meadows and a lead-free salt marsh; its former polluted state is now just a memory. "Visit Sunny Chernobyl" was our second selection for SFS READS, our new book club! We do not have a formal meeting or membership, it’s just a chance for everyone in the SFS community to come together and exchange ideas. If you have some thoughts to share on “Visit Sunny Chernobyl,” please let us know in the comments! And let us know your ideas for our next book pick! [post_title] => Book Review: “Visit Sunny Chernobyl” [post_excerpt] => "Visit Sunny Chernobyl" was our second selection for SFS READS, our new book club! [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => book-review-visit-sunny-chernobyl [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:26 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:26 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2013/01/book-review-visit-sunny-chernobyl/ [menu_order] => 977 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 4148 [nid] => 3583 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 4148 ) [11] => Array ( [ID] => 4151 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2013-02-01 10:47:29 [post_date_gmt] => 2013-02-01 10:47:29 [post_content] => The post was published in Today @ Colorado State, here. Miranda Babcock-Krenk is a senior [at Colorado State University] majoring in Zoology. She studied with The School for Field Studies in Tanzania and Kenya during the Fall 2012 semester, and was a recipient of the Office of International Programs Undergraduate Study Abroad Scholarship, which helped fund her experience. "These past four months studying wildlife management in East Africa have taught me many things. I know how to shoot a bow and arrow, carry water on my head, and patch up a Maasai house with cow manure. I know how to distinguish wildebeest dung from cattle dung, tell if a male elephant is potentially aggressive, and how to remove snares set by poachers. I’ve learned to not settle for a marriage proposal unless it is at least 30 cows, to always chase away baboons that are trying to steal your potatoes, and that it is possible to make a real connection with someone even if you do not share the same culture, beliefs, or language. I can now untangle acacia bushes expertly, ask for directions in Swahili, and use a GPS. I’ve learned that African sunsets can take your breath away, that the glowing eyes of a hyena at night can be hauntingly beautiful, and that shared silence can be more meaningful than hours of conversation. Most importantly, I now know that I am capable of so much more than I ever thought and that I will always keep this experience close to my heart. As the director of our program told us on our last night in Kenya: 'Be happy, be good, and do good for others.' This is how I want to live my life and how I hope I can continue sharing my experience with others." Kwa heri, Miranda [post_title] => Alumna Reflects on Experience Abroad in East Africa [post_excerpt] => Miranda Babcock-Krenk is a senior at Colorado State University majoring in Zoology. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => alumna-reflects-on-experience-abroad-in-east-africa [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:26 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:26 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2013/02/alumna-reflects-on-experience-abroad-in-east-africa/ [menu_order] => 974 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 4151 [nid] => 3586 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 4151 ) [12] => Array ( [ID] => 4214 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2013-04-04 11:54:06 [post_date_gmt] => 2013-04-04 11:54:06 [post_content] => “I’ve never been a ‘road well-traveled’ type of person,” said Katlin Kraska. This adventurous attitude carried the DePauw University student to East Africa last spring to study wildlife management with The School for Field Studies (SFS). Soon, she will depart for Indonesia on a prestigious Fulbright award to explore mechanisms for improving community empowerment through the wildlife tourism industry. “The research experience I got with SFS was invaluable, and that is what I based much of my methodology on for my Indonesia project,” she said. Kraska will be conducting community-based surveys in the vicinity of Ujung Kulon, a wildlife reserve on the southwestern tip of Java which provides natural refuge for the Javan rhinoceros as well as other endemic primate and predatory species. She plans to ask local residents about the ways in which they interact with wildlife and how tourism benefits, or does not benefit, their daily life. She has always had a strong interest in animals, and in human-animal relationships and interactions, but her first exposure to wildlife tourism operating on a large scale was in East Africa. She joined the SFS Directed Research project on this topic, led by Professor John Mwamhanga, and had the chance to survey people living in the Tarangire-Manyara ecosystem of Tanzania on their perceptions of the wildlife tourism industry. “Some of the results were pretty astounding. One of the main questions that I asked was: do you think the government values people, wildlife, or both?” she said. “More than half thought that the government valued wildlife over people, and about a third said both….so only a small sector answered that people were the priority for the government.” Kraska noted that much of the tourism industry in that region of Tanzania is run by outside entrepreneurs that operate large, self-contained establishments. The money made does not make its way into the hands of the local community members, and thus, they do not perceive that they have a stake in conservation or preservation. “If anything,” she said, “they might come to dislike wildlife because the animals eat their crops and livestock.” Getting to know the thoughts and viewpoints of local residents, both through her research and daily life at the field station, was definitely a highlight for Kraska. At the end of the project, she presented her research to the local community – an experience she describes as “one of the most impactful moments” from her time abroad. “We did a short homestay on Easter, and I got along really well with my host family. I never thought I’d see them again, but then my host dad showed up to our research presentation. He doesn’t speak a lick of English and my Swahili was pretty terrible at that point, but just seeing him there and seeing how interested the whole community was in what we were doing, that showed me that our reciprocal relationship was real and genuine… I realized that people are the same anywhere you go. Cultures are different, traditions are different, practices are different, but people are people and that’s the bottom line.” Meet More SFS Alumni [post_title] => SFS Alumna Receives Fulbright Award [post_excerpt] => “The research experience I got with SFS was invaluable..." [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => sfs-alumna-receives-fulbright-award [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:26 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:26 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2013/04/sfs-alumna-receives-fulbright-award/ [menu_order] => 929 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 4214 [nid] => 3631 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 4214 ) [13] => Array ( [ID] => 4242 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2013-04-26 06:47:01 [post_date_gmt] => 2013-04-26 06:47:01 [post_content] => Happy Arbor Day! The simple act of planting trees can go a long way towards combating soil erosion, habitat loss, water quality degradation, and even climate change. On SFS programs around the world, students join with community members in both large and small-scale plantings of indigenous seeds and saplings. Enjoy these “before and after” photos from the paddock area of the SFS Center for Rainforest Studies in Australia. In the fall of 1993, SFS student Warren Goetzel snapped these images of his classmates as they planted 500 trees on a grassy hilltop. This now forest-covered area is nearly unrecognizable! Ciara Legato, Student Affairs Manager in Australia, revisited the spot twenty years later to capture its transformation. Here’s what she wrote: “We (Center Director Amanda Freeman and I) hiked out to where the planting was back in ‘93, and it looked COMPLETELY different. The forest is huge, and dense, and not that easy to photograph.” [post_title] => Warrawee Planting: 20 Years Later [post_excerpt] => Enjoy these “before and after” photos from the paddock area of the SFS Center for Rainforest Studies in Australia. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => warrawee-planting-20-years-later [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:26 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:26 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2013/04/warrawee-planting-20-years-later/ [menu_order] => 914 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 4242 [nid] => 3651 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 4242 ) [14] => Array ( [ID] => 4371 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2013-10-17 10:29:14 [post_date_gmt] => 2013-10-17 10:29:14 [post_content] => In honor of the 25th anniversary of the SFS Centre for Rainforest Studies in Australia, we reached out to our alumni to ask about some of their fondest memories from the Wet Tropics. We heard back from many, including Gwendolen Gross Australia Spring ’88, an accomplished novelist, who wrote: “A great adventure and much fodder for my first novel, Field Guide! I’ve published four more, but the world of Millaa Millaa will always be vivid in my memory.” In Field Guide, the main character Annabel Mendelssohn travels to North Queensland, Australia to study spectacled flying foxes at a research station not unlike SFS. She soon settles in to life among scientists in the rainforest – listening to the dawn chorus, avoiding leeches, and hiking past stinging trees. But her newfound tranquility is interrupted by the mysterious disappearance of her professor and mentor, Dr. John Goode. We recently interviewed Gwendolen to learn more about the intersections between her SFS experience and Field Guide. Why did you decide to study abroad with SFS in Australia? It was 1988, my junior year of college at Oberlin. I adored Oberlin, but was fascinated by the idea of field science. I'd always wanted to write about science—fancying, perhaps, a job as a National Geographic journalist—and I'd done quite a lot of backpacking and adventure —read: budget —travel. I picked up a brochure at a campus fair for programs abroad, and knew SFS was for me. It was later I learned I preferred an amalgam of invented and real world fiction to science journalism. How did the idea first come to you to set your novel at a field station, and in North Queensland in particular? I worked in textbook publishing after college—nursing and science textbooks—and did quite a bit of freelance writing for science supplements. Then I worked in children's books, and found a tiny ad in the San Diego free paper for a lunchtime Brown Bag writing workshop—and began writing poetry. This led to a wild outpouring of creative writing, and a fellowship with PEN West, and the realization that even if it wasn't exactly practical to get an MFA in writing, I had paid off the first round of student loans, and I had to give writing some serious attention. My very first novel, which lives in a drawer, was about a girl who would sing before she could speak. I could whistle before I could speak. But when I got to grad school, I was ready to write about the extraordinary place I had studied abroad. Millaa Millaa really was a character all its own. The story is rich in detail...describing the humidity, the flora and fauna, the national parks...but it was published in 2001, many years after your student experience. How did the memories stay so fresh? Lots of those details stayed with me—as details probably stay with anyone who lives an SFS adventure. It's such a different sensory experience. For me, writing is about relating the sensory world, sharing how things smell and taste and feel with someone else. As a reader, I want to taste and feel and hear, and suspend disbelief. Readers can live in the frame of the book, the invented, or captured world. I also had journals and notes, tons of notes, about the bats, on my waterproof paper! Do bats intrigue you as much as they do your main character? They do, they really do. I was hoping that Annabel could use bats as a lens to see herself--to see how we all live in colonies, whether in a group house in North Queensland or an apartment building in New York City. We're animals of space and community culture, of collective work and isolation at the same time. Competition and collaboration. In many ways, young adulthood is about understanding that, and understanding how we move from one family into the world of our next, chosen families. You have gone on to publish numerous books since Field Guide. Is the sense of place a defining characteristic in all your novels? I hope sense of place is important in each. After the first two books, Book Magazine dubbed me, "The Reigning Queen of Women's Adventure Fiction." I am very proud of that title, though my next books deal with other landscapes – the landscape of relationships. In The Other Mother, I explore the conflicts between a stay-at-home and working mom. In The Orphan Sister, I look at sisterhood. The latest, When She Was Gone, has a strong sense of place—but the characters create the place. With each book, I hope to always get closer to telling the truths of life—not the facts, but what seems truest to me, about how we relate to each other, how we connect, and how we miss. [post_title] => Alumni Profile: Gwendolen Gross [post_excerpt] => In honor of the 25th anniversary of the SFS Center in Australia, we reached out to alumni to ask about their fondest memories from the Wet Tropics. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => alumni-profile-gwendolen-gross [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:26 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:26 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2013/10/alumni-profile-gwendolen-gross/ [menu_order] => 809 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 4371 [nid] => 3751 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 4371 ) [15] => Array ( [ID] => 4474 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2014-03-24 04:00:31 [post_date_gmt] => 2014-03-24 04:00:31 [post_content] => Dr. Kate Mansfield TCI Spring’ 91 is a marine scientist and sea turtle biologist at the University of Central Florida. She and her team have recently published a paper in Proceedings of the Royal Society B on the whereabouts of baby sea turtles during their “lost years”—the time spent between hatching on the beach and adolescence, when they turn up again in the waters around the Azores and Madeira Islands. To track the tiny turtles through the open ocean, they developed a clever (and safe) solar-powered transmitter tag that allowed for long-term monitoring (of up to 220 days!). Satellite mapping showed fast speeds in the currents of the North Atlantic Subtropical Gyre and stop-offs in the Sargasso Sea. Read more on the study here. How did an SFS experience contribute to Kate’s education and her career as a marine biologist? Read our interview below! Why did you choose SFS as a study abroad program? I learn best when I'm not sitting at a desk or expected to regurgitate information. I knew I was interested in marine biology and management and wanted to get some hands-on experience. My college had a great Biology program, but at the time, they didn't offer classes that focused on marine science. SFS helped fill that gap! What is your most profound or lasting memory from your SFS program? I have so many memories from the SFS program on South Caicos! I used to really enjoy watching the ocean around the time of sunset when all of the spotted eagle rays would jump out of the water. Our class also had the fun opportunity to meet and interact with Jacques Mayol, the famous free diver. He brought his home movies to show the students and then would swim with us in the mornings (I think some of the students challenged him to a race, but he out-swam everyone). What did you gain from your SFS experience? Field skills. Aside from improving my SCUBA skills, I learned so many field sampling techniques, particularly underwater sampling techniques, which really helped me when I was applying for internships and jobs after college and even after I received my Master's degree. Are you professionally connected to other SFS folk? A couple of my collaborators on a turtle tagging project in Brazil were SFS instructors and interns on South Caicos after I was there as a student. Small world! What advice do you have for other SFS alumni looking to get into your field? Build up strong field (or laboratory) skills—this is what helps make you marketable to field-based programs. Gain "life experience", too. When considering taking on graduate students, I look for those who have more practical “outside of the classroom” experience. [post_title] => Alumni Profile: Kate Mansfield [post_excerpt] => Dr. Kate Mansfield (TCI Spring’ 91) is a marine scientist and sea turtle biologist at the University of Central Florida. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => alumni-profile-kate-mansfield [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:26 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:26 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2014/03/alumni-profile-kate-mansfield/ [menu_order] => 946 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 4474 [nid] => 3832 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 4474 ) [16] => Array ( [ID] => 4511 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2014-05-02 07:22:46 [post_date_gmt] => 2014-05-02 07:22:46 [post_content] => Congratulations to Colby Halligan of Elon University; Michelle Stuhlmacher of George Washington University; and Jenna Wiegand of Oregon State University. This August, these three recent SFS alumni will be presented the prestigious Udall Scholarship in honor of their commitment to careers in the environment, leadership potential, academic achievement, and record of public service. We commend your achievements! Continue below to read the scholars' profiles.
Name: Colby Halligan School: Elon University Major: Environmental Science SFS Program:  Kenya and Tanzania Fall 2013
I chose SFS Kenya and Tanzania for an adventure, for the opportunity to learn more about myself and my passions, and to explore a new culture and environment. I could not be more grateful for the opportunity to recognize my passion for nutrition in the developing world. My favorite memory of my SFS experience remains in the Serengeti as our safari car drove into the dusk. I remember thinking to myself, “I know how best to love those around me, and that’s by supplying good food to people in the world that need it.” My intention upon being awarded the Udall Fellowship is to obtain my MPH as a certified dietician and work to develop farm-plot nutrition plans for malnourished women and children. This summer, I will be interning on an organic farm in Tuscany through the Spannocchia Foundation, an organization focused on natural resource conservation, sustainable agriculture, and global dialogue. I am thrilled for the opportunity to help facilitate the empowerment of malnourished communities by sharing resources, knowledge, and enthusiasm.
Name: Michelle Stuhlmacher School: George Washington University Major: Geography SFS Program: Costa Rica Summer 2013
I was first drawn to The School for Field Studies because of the hands-on environmental curriculum. The summer program was a great chance for me to get research experience and see sustainability in action outside of the U.S. I chose the Costa Rica program because I am really interested in Latin American culture and the rainforests and biodiversity. For the Directed Research portion of the summer, I had the honor of being part of Dr. Achim Haeger's team. I gained a much better understanding of the research process because we were able to see how a research project began, go out into the field to collect data, and then analyze that data, run statistical tests, and write up our findings in a paper. Additionally, Dr. Haeger and I submitted an article that built off of the summer's research, and I am listed as a co-author. The article is still under review, but I am very excited about potentially being published as an undergraduate. This is a huge step in the right direction for my future education and career goals. This coming fall I plan on applying to geography Ph.D. programs. I want to research climate change adaptation and mitigation for my dissertation. Ultimately, I'd like to become a professor so I can both research and teach. Climate change will require a long-term solution so I think it is important to educate and inspire the next generation of students to study climate adaptation and mitigation.
Name: Jenna Wiegand School: Oregon State University Major: Business SFS Program: Turks & Caicos Islands Fall 2013
I am beyond excited for the opportunities this scholarship will give me and the Udall alumni group I'll be a part of. My experiences and life reflection as part of SFS were instrumental in changing my career goals and aspirations, and highlighted significantly in my application. With a growing interest and appreciation for sustainability, I was drawn to SFS as an opportunity to both deepen my understanding of ecology and to live out the sustainable practices I’d been learning so much about and aspired to implement. I wanted to shake up my lifestyle and broaden my worldview—and SFS delivered! The depth of what I learned hands-on in the environment and while working in the local community was beyond what I had expected, contributing to an indescribable experience. This remote island and the community there captured my heart and made me reevaluate my career aspirations in light of global problems that really matter: I now want to apply my business background to work in microfinance and focus on issues including poverty, conservation, inequitable climate change impacts, and third world development. During my time in South Caicos I learned that creating social change is hard: it’s hot, it’s dirty, it’s long hours, it’s full-on commitment. But the work is worth it—hugs and careworn smiles and local enthusiasm are just evidence of a community on the road to something better. [post_title] => Three SFS Alumni Named 2014 Udall Scholars [post_excerpt] => Congratulations to Colby Halligan of Elon University; Michelle Stuhlmacher of George Washington University; and Jenna Wiegand of Oregon State University. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => three-sfs-alumni-named-2014-udall-scholars [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:27 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:27 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2014/05/three-sfs-alumni-named-2014-udall-scholars/ [menu_order] => 918 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 4511 [nid] => 3857 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 4511 ) [17] => Array ( [ID] => 4626 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2014-10-10 05:00:20 [post_date_gmt] => 2014-10-10 05:00:20 [post_content] => This post was originally published on DePauw University's Live & Learn: The Hubbard Center Blog. Name: Casandra Brocksmith Off-Campus Study Program & Location: The School for Field Studies (SFS) Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) What did you study while off-campus?  Marine Resource Management How did you connect with your community off-campus?  SFS did a great job connecting us to the community during our time spent there.  Three days a week we were working with the community.  On Wednesdays we would travel to the local elementary school and help with an activity of our choice (PE class, in-class work, etc.)  Then on Saturdays the local community kids would come to our center and we would provide them with educational games and activities.  The focus of these activities was to educate the kids on the resources around them and how to appreciate and improve the conditions in their community.  On a weekend day we were placed with a family in the community who needed some kind of assistance, whether that be with their kids or to sit and spend time with an elderly woman.  My placement was to sit and spend time with the oldest lady on the island, who was 100 years old and still lived by herself.  Since South Caicos was a small island, the whole community really valued personal relationships and getting to know everyone who inhabited the island. As far as field research, we were constantly out in the field.  I took many of my exams out in the ocean on waterproof slate.  The program really emphasized the field research aspect and we were constantly out and about doing hands-on learning/research. What was your most memorable experience?  Wow, I would say it would be impossible to narrow it down to one specific experience.  I was lucky enough to have countless memorable experiences while abroad, but I will pick out one of my many favorites.  On Wednesdays and Saturdays we would go scuba diving in the mornings.  This gave us the opportunity for us to get a better look at all the different environments we were learning about in our classes.  It was always incredible, but this specific dive trumped the rest.  I descended 100 feet underwater that day with some of the best friends I have ever had (people I met on this program) and when we got to our depth I saw some of the coolest things.  We saw a few sharks on the dive, a pod of dolphins swam by, and a friendly little sea turtle was checking our group out.  I was ecstatic.  After ascending to the top and getting back on the boat we were all smiling ear to ear and couldn’t believe it.  A few moments later one of our professors pointed and exclaimed loudly, a migrating humpback whale and her baby were breaching in front of our boat.  The spring is the season when the whales and their new babies make the journey past South Caicos and up to Cape Cod.  Hands down the coolest day of my life.  We were all crying happy tears only because of all the amazing things we had just seen in such a beautiful place. What were you most apprehensive about with your off-campus study experience and how did you overcome it?  I was most apprehensive about being so far away from home for that long of a period of time.  I would not consider myself a huge homebody necessarily, but I had still not spent more than a month away from my family and definitely had never been 1,533 miles away.  The program was really conscience of this transition for us and was very helpful.  One of the first nights they spoke to us about how we would work through them.  Our student mentor met with us one-on-one as well just to talk to us individually and to address any concerns we may have had.  SFS keeps you so busy and you’re constantly learning about and doing amazing things, so I didn’t even have time to feel apprehensive about being away for that long of a time.  We were really submerged in the program and the community and I was having the time of my life.  It honestly flew by and by the time it was ready to go home I was more apprehensive about leaving to go home than I was to move away from home for studying abroad. How has off-campus study impacted your long-term plans, professionally or academically?  People say studying abroad changes your life and you truly do not understand it until you experience it yourself.  I grew in many different areas: personally, academically, professionally, and interculturally.  This program specifically challenges you in many of these areas, but this results in great growth.  I learned more about myself in that one semester than any other semester thus far.  This came from all the new learning experiences I had in this completely different culture.  Luckily for me, I gained 3 credits while abroad and 2 of them went toward my Biology major.  These classes were very difficult, but SFS is a hands-on program and everything is very applicable, which made it more desirable to learn about.  I learned a better studying technique as well as how to apply the material I was learning to bigger pictures. SFS also sets you up very well professionally.  I had to write my first scientific paper based on my own personal research.  The professors at my program were from all around the world like Ireland and England and they all had pursued Ph.D. s in the areas of study.  They provided us with a Q-and-A night and answered any questions we had about our next steps after college and offered to connect us with people who may be of help for us.  The opportunities and growth I have and will continue to have as an SFS alum are endless. [post_title] => Off-Campus Study Profile: Casandra Brocksmith [post_excerpt] => SFS did a great job connecting us to the community during our time spent there.  [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => off-campus-study-profile-casandra-brocksmith [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:27 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:27 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2014/10/off-campus-study-profile-casandra-brocksmith/ [menu_order] => 833 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 4626 [nid] => 3941 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 4626 ) [18] => Array ( [ID] => 4846 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2015-05-13 11:55:52 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-05-13 11:55:52 [post_content] => The Good Fight podcast (http://thegoodfight.fm) talks to marine biologist and SFS alumna Ayana Johnson (Turks & Caicos Islands Spring '01) about "big ocean problem-solving stuff."
[post_title] => Podcast: Using the Ocean Without Using It Up [post_excerpt] => The Good Fight podcast talks to marine biologist and SFS TCI alumna Ayana Johnson about "big ocean problem-solving stuff." [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => podcast-using-the-ocean-without-using-it-up [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:27 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:27 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2015/05/podcast-using-the-ocean-without-using-it-up/ [menu_order] => 683 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 4846 [nid] => 4124 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 4846 ) [19] => Array ( [ID] => 4902 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2015-09-03 09:00:55 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-09-03 09:00:55 [post_content] => Name: Kayt Colburn Education: Bachelor of Science, Sweet Briar College, 2011; Masters in GIS (Geographic Information Systems), University of Redlands, 2013 SFS Program: Kenya/Tanzania, Spring 2010 Current Position: GIS Developer Why did you choose SFS as a study abroad program? When I was an undergrad, I was thrilled to learn that as a science major I could study abroad without having to take a semester off and still earn credit in biology and environmental studies. I had dreamed about going to Africa my entire life, and the stars aligned as the perfect situation presented itself to me in the form of the Kenya/Tanzania semester. I hesitated for a moment between spending a semester abroad and doing lab research at my home university, but then my advisor turned to me and said: “How do you want to remember your college experience in 20 years, sitting in a lab all semester or going to Africa?” My advice to prospective students is: pack your bags and go! You are about to embark on the most important journey of your life. What is your favorite memory from your SFS program? My banda-mate Kaila and I spent the day with the most adorable mother of four who lived in a traditional house made of cow dung and mud. She cooked us the most phenomenal meal I’ve had in my life of ugali and beans and cabbage, and we helped her harvest corn that was planted by a previous group of SFS students and collect water from a pond for cleaning and cooking. She primarily spoke Maa and we had just begun our Swahili studies. We were able to connect with this woman and her children using what broken Swahili we knew between us, laughter, and hand gestures. There are countless other profound memories I have of my time in East Africa, but living as a Maasai for a day and befriending our host mama will always be with me. Second on that list was shaving my head with two other girls. We decided East Africa was too hot for a full head of hair, and the Kimana Market had a special on haircuts. What did you gain from your SFS experience? It’s hard to put into words everything that I gained from my experience at SFS. There are tangible skills I learned such as research methods for non-invasive behavioral studies, Swahili; and hands-on experience with communities faced with the realities, joys, and dangers of living with mega-fauna in their backyard. There are unforgettable experiences, such as traveling alone across the world for the first time, witnessing one of eight rhinos in Ngorongoro Conservation Area, watching a cheetah feast upon an impala she killed not 20 feet from our camp, hugging the orphans who are growing up next to the mural we painted in their playground, singing and dancing with the Maasai during a coming of age ceremony, and being lulled to sleep by the endless sounds of the Serengeti night. And then there are the things such as a new found appreciation for the convenience and luxury of clean running water and electricity, a heightened awareness of our disconnection from the natural world as modern Americans, and a sense that our roots as human beings run deep within each other and begin in Africa. What do you do for work? I am a GIS Developer for Oceaneering International in Houston, Texas. I do a lot of application development as well as data analysis for emergency response in the energy industry. Right now I am working on a disaster response and prevention application with the intention of preventing major environmental disasters from occurring in sensitive environments. This involves creating applications and databases that can go offline and collect and analyze data collected in the field that will determine where specialized equipment needs to be placed in order to prevent major disaster. Next month I will join several of my colleagues in testing this application in the field. We are installing the equipment on two boats and sailing out to a remote area, without Internet connection and very limited communication with shore base. Seeing this project come to fruition has been quite the feat, and I’m very proud of everyone I’ve worked with. When I return from the maiden voyage, I will have many more stories of success, that I am sure. What advice do you have for other SFS alumni looking to get into your field? I never thought I would be in the position that I’m in, I thought I would work for a lab or continue to do field work. But now I find myself working in an industry I was surprised fit in with my education and experience. My advice to fellow alumni is to not be afraid of the unknown. Remember the first time you stepped off the plane into the new country you would call home for the next few months. You took risks, you made new friends, and you did things you never thought possible. Approach your career that way -- go into the unknown, be willing to be surprised. And call in your favors -- utilize your network to its fullest potential. Sending in blind resumes is great, but never underestimate the power of a recommendation, and don’t be afraid to ask. Are you connected to other SFS alumni? I am professionally connected via the Linked In group, and every time I am in the hometown of one of the “cohorts”, I make my best effort to see them, hug them, and reminisce on the adventure of a lifetime. [post_title] => Alumni Profile: Kayt Colburn [post_excerpt] => My advice to prospective SFS students is: pack your bags and go! You are about to embark on the most important journey of your life. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => alumni-profile-kayt-colburn [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:27 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:27 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2015/09/alumni-profile-kayt-colburn/ [menu_order] => 642 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 4902 [nid] => 4169 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 4902 ) [20] => Array ( [ID] => 4962 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2015-10-15 09:38:45 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-10-15 09:38:45 [post_content] => Name: Theresa Wolfgang Education: BA (Zoology, Environmental Studies) from Ohio Wesleyan University SFS Program: Kenya/Tanzania Fall 2012 Why did you choose SFS as a study abroad program? Ever since I was in second grade I had a dream to go to Africa and see the animals I had read so much about. SFS allowed not only a chance for me to fulfill that dream, but also to study these animals in their natural habitats. A program like SFS that heavily emphasizes getting out of the classroom and venturing into the national parks as well as working with local communities was very appealing to me. Reflecting back on your time in the program, what did you gain from your SFS experience? My experiences with this program were numerous, invaluable, and life-altering. Perhaps my biggest take-away was the amazing attitudes and perspectives of local African people. The rural areas of Kenya and Tanzania in which we studied are inhabited primarily by people who have very little, yet conveyed extreme happiness and gratitude for what they did have. They have a saying, "There is no rush in Africa,” and I have tried to live by that mantra since leaving. The local people I encountered changed my perspective on my own life, and encouraged me to enjoy every single day and appreciate the little things. I learned a lot about myself during my months abroad as well. Having the opportunity to learn with students from all over the United States from local guides, who helped us as we interviewed farmers, has given me the confidence to go out on my own and work with new people. I was able to move across the country away from my family and friends to a new place where I knew no one for the job I have now without worrying about whether or not I would be lonely or unable to make new friends. What is your most profound or lasting memory from your SFS program? My first six weeks of the program were spent in Kenya. We lived down the road from Amboseli National Park, so we frequently went there for safaris for class. The purpose of one of our trips there was to participate in an annual census count of all the large mammals. We were given a quadrant of the park and six of us piled into a truck driven by our Swahili mwalimu (professor). We spent four hours driving around counting over 400 zebras, numerous elephants, and gazelles. As we drove back to the park headquarters, we jammed to music while taking in the beautiful landscape of Africa. While waiting for the other groups to return, we watched a Chelsea soccer game in a room full of every enthused, traditionally dressed Massai warriors. This was an amazing experience because we weren't just taking notes for class—we were actively helping the park and collecting real scientific data that could be used. And the dance party/safari on the ride back was pretty unforgettable. My second six weeks was spent in Tanzania. We were lucky enough to spend a week camping in tents on the plains of the Serengeti. Nothing separated us from the wildlife; we just had our trustee Askaris (night guards). The most vivid memory I have is from a morning safari during which we had to stop and sit in the middle of a road for thirty minutes because we were completely surround by hundreds of White-bearded Wildebeest. We were fortunate enough to be there during the great migration. It was an unbelievable experience to see that many animals in one of the most magical places on earth. What advice would you give to a prospective SFS student? GO! You will never have a chance to get so much experience with amazing people in such amazing places. When you do go, take advantage of every opportunity that presents itself while you are abroad—do not have any regrets that you missed out. Don't be afraid to get yourself out there and make friends with the locals, they will be the most interesting and friendliest people you will ever meet! What do you do for work? I am a primate keeper, which basically means I take care of about 5 different species of lesser apes, guenon, and lemurs. Every morning I feed the animals and clean their enclosures, train the animals for veterinary procedures, work on maintenance of exhibits, and educate the public as they hand feed our ring-tailed lemurs craisins on Lemur Island! Did your SFS experience contribute to where you ended up? My experience confirmed how much I loved animals and how much I wanted to work with them and learn as much as I could. Being a zookeeper has allowed me to spend everyday surrounded by species that remind me of my SFS trip. What advice do you have for other SFS alumni looking to get into your field? It is all about the experience in the zoo world. There are husbandry internships, and there are also internships that focus on training and research. The more versatile you are the better it looks to an employer. [post_title] => Alumni Profile: Theresa Wolfgang [post_excerpt] => Ever since I was in second grade I had a dream to go to Africa and see the animals I had read so much about. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => alumni-profile-theresa-wolfgang [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:27 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:27 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2015/10/alumni-profile-theresa-wolfgang/ [menu_order] => 601 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 4962 [nid] => 4220 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 4962 ) [21] => Array ( [ID] => 5000 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2015-11-17 10:59:56 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-11-17 10:59:56 [post_content] => Name: Aubrey Ellertson Education: BA, Biology, Franklin and Marshall College SFS Program: TCI Spring '10 Current Position: NOAA Northeast Fisheries Observer Program; Data Editor Since I completed my SFS program in 2010, I have been back to visit South Caicos several times. My most recent trip was February 2015, where I presented about being a Northeast Fisheries Observer for NOAA, and how to pursue a career in fisheries. When I graduated from college, I was hired as an at-sea monitor and northeast fisheries observer. I was one of about 200 observers in NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Observer Program, and one of nearly 1,000 observers nationwide. My job was to keep a record of everything that was brought on board the fishing boat, and everything that left it. In addition, I would document bycatch if there were any, location of catch, the weather, and ocean conditions. The data I collected helped scientists monitor the movement of fish in response to changing environmental conditions. Essentially I was trying to paint as complete a picture as possible, so that scientists could tell how each fish population was doing. I worked mainly on trawlers and gillnetters, and the trips I covered lasted anywhere from one day to two weeks. Out in the field my goal was to promote strong scientific backing, high data quality standards, objectiveness in collecting information, respect for the fishing community, and a high regard for all marine resources. As an observer I learned to work together, exercising open communication and cooperation to successfully achieve my objective. The observer/captain relationship can be a delicate one, since taking an observer is a mandatory requirement and fishing permit obligation. As a result, I had to adapt to every boat I went on, and ensure that I was able to do my job successfully without interfering with fishing operations. Working as an observer taught me to be an effective communicator and listener. Presently I am working as a Data Editor, working to maintain records on 11 of my individual fisheries observers and to track their performance. I review their raw electronic data, and paper logs for completeness and accuracy. I then contact each of my fisheries observers to verify inconsistencies, to try and solve any data quality issues that might arise, and to verify and check their species identification photos they submit. I also check in age samples (otoliths (ear bones), scales, and monkfish vertebrae). In addition to my every day responsibilities, I am very involved in the outreach department within the Northeast Fisheries Observer Program. I travel often for our kiosk outreach events, as well as visit different fishing ports to do dock work and educate fishermen about our program, or about new protocols that are coming into place. Without a doubt, I would not be where I am today if it was not for SFS and my experiences in Turks and Caicos. While on South Caicos, my research was on establishing a baseline information guide for fisheries management on the finfish dock landings, and in particular if Nassau grouper were being speared below the age of sexual maturity. This experience was particularly important to my growth and development because it was my first opportunity to interact with fishermen in what I would consider a male-dominated society. I gained a lot of field experience, but also how to communicate effectively. I have enormous ties to the fishing community on South Caicos, and I continually feel a very strong connection to the individuals that made their livelihoods from the sea. Those experiences contributed to my current involvement in New England fisheries, and to my work as a fisheries observer out on commercial fishing boats. When I visited the Center in February 2015, I had the opportunity to go gillnetting for lemon sharks, and it was truly a remarkable experience I will never forget! I was also able to snorkel the new lobster casitas (houses), and check for juvenile lobsters. I was glad to see that community engagement is as important as ever, and that the time students spend with community members has actually increased. Lastly, I came home with a potcake this trip! Potcakes are the name given to dogs of the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Islands. It came about because the locals fed the caked remains of the cooking pot to the dogs. They are truly a remarkable breed both smart, loyal and loving pets. I would never have had Savannah today if not for the help of SFS staff at the Center, and Potcake Place in Providenciales. [post_title] => Alumni Profile: Aubrey Ellertson [post_excerpt] => Without a doubt, I would not be where I am today if it was not for SFS and my experiences in Turks and Caicos. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => alumni-profile-aubrey-ellertson [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:27 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:27 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2015/11/alumni-profile-aubrey-ellertson/ [menu_order] => 568 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 5000 [nid] => 4249 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 5000 ) [22] => Array ( [ID] => 5061 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2016-01-22 08:23:11 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-01-22 08:23:11 [post_content] => More than 16,500 students have participated in our programs, and our alumni frequently tell us that SFS ignited passion and direction for their careers. SFS alumni are environmental leaders in the worlds of academia, activism, business, and government. We asked several SFS alumni: "What advice do you have for students who are looking to get into your field?" Here is their insight. Have advice of your own? Share in the comments below!

David Bennett (SFS Mexico Summer '97), Sustainability and Innovation Consultant

Pursue work that you truly love doing. There’s so much good work that needs be done in the world and there are endless industries that you can be a part of in order to effect the change that you want to see in the world. Someone once asked me, "What is it that you can’t NOT do?" I think that asking yourself that question is one good way of figuring out your passions because that question forces you to examine the things in life that you feel compelled to accomplish in life. Once you know what those pursuits are and can begin working towards them, I think you’ll find a great sense of accomplishment personally and professionally.

Emma Impink (SFS Kenya Spring '09), Program Support @ One Acre Fund

If you are an alum interested in getting into grassroots sustainable development, I say, try something that might not sound exactly like what you’re looking for… you never know how you can integrate your knowledge to address a new challenge!

Jeffery Flocken (SFS Kenya Summer '90), Policy Officer @ International Fund for Animal Welfare

Without a doubt, I got where I am today because I am passionate and committed to wildlife conservation. I always knew what I wanted to do, and I pursued it with vigor, taking advantage of every opportunity to learn more about the field and meet people involved in it. For anyone interested in pursuing a career path like mine, I advise you to network aggressively and don’t be afraid to take chances. And most importantly, take advantage of every opportunity to get out into the field and see the animals you are working to protect. That is what keeps you motivated!

Theresa Wolfgang (SFS Kenya/Tanzania Fall '12), Primate Keeper @ Tanganyika Wildlife Park

It is all about the experience in the zoo world. There are husbandry internships, and there are also internships that focus on training and research. The more versatile you are, the better it looks to an employer.

Kayt Colburn (SFS Kenya/Tanzania Spring '10), GIS Developer @ Oceaneering International

I never thought I would be in the position that I’m in, I thought I would work for a lab or continue to do field work. But now I find myself working in an industry I was surprised fit in with my education and experience. My advice is to not be afraid of the unknown. Remember the first time you stepped off the plane into the new country you would call home for the next few months. You took risks, you made new friends, and you did things you never thought possible. Approach your career that way—go into the unknown, be willing to be surprised. And call in your favors—utilize your network to its fullest potential. Sending in blind resumes is great, but never underestimate the power of a recommendation, and don’t be afraid to ask.

Kate Mansfield (SFS Turks & Caicos Islands Spring '91), Marine Scientist @ University of Central Florida

Build up strong field (or laboratory) skills—this is what helps make you marketable to field-based programs. Gain "life experience," too. When considering taking on graduate students, I look for those who have more practical "outside of the classroom" experience.

Rob Holmes (SFS Kenya Fall '90), Founder @ GLP Films

Work hard, follow your passion, and do whatever it takes to get there. And you’ve got to be patient. I got excellent advice along the way, like the importance of networking, being curious, and asking questions. Before I went to grad school, I sat down with a few friends of my father who were in business. The common advice was to go into sales to teach yourself how to communicate, articulate, persuade, and get out of difficult situations. Communication skills are so important.

Tania Taranovski (SFS Australia Spring '92), Sustainable Seafood Programs Manager @ New England Aquarium

Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and take chances. It’s tempting upon graduation to feel like you must have a job that will start paying the bills right away, or that you must start the right graduate school immediately to get ahead. No time in the next 20 years will it be easier to just explore and take chances. And live simply, like you did during your SFS experience. It will remind you of what is really important. → Read SFS Alumni Profiles → Explore SFS Programs [post_title] => Environmental Professionals Share Career Advice [post_excerpt] => SFS alumni working in the environmental field answer the question: "What advice do you have for students who are looking to get into your field?" [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => environmental-professionals-share-career-advice [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:28 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:28 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2016/01/environmental-professionals-share-career-advice/ [menu_order] => 532 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 5061 [nid] => 4283 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 5061 ) [23] => Array ( [ID] => 5062 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2016-01-26 08:06:12 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-01-26 08:06:12 [post_content] => Name: Ben Goldfarb Education: Amherst College, BA English/Environmental Studies; Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Masters in Environmental Management SFS Program: Australia Fall 2007 Current Position: Freelance Journalist Why did you choose SFS as a study abroad program? Unlike most SFS students, I completely lacked scientific experience — let alone field experience — when I applied in 2007. I was an English major, and my only exposure to ecology was the occasional book by E.O. Wilson or David Quammen. Still, I loved the outdoors and particularly wildlife, and I longed to surround myself in nature (maybe I’d read too much Thoreau). SFS Australia was the most remote study-abroad program I could find. I’m proof that, with some intellectual curiosity and hard work, you can succeed at SFS no matter your academic background. Reflecting back on your time in the program, what did you gain from your SFS experience? First, I gained familiarity with all kinds of vital scientific concepts: the ecological perils of habitat fragmentation and isolation; the value of wildlife corridors; the process of forest succession, and so on. I also became part of a wonderful like-minded community, and made friendships that I still value today. Perhaps most importantly, however, I came to understand the fundamentals of research, and developed a profound appreciation for the mental and sometimes physical rigor that goes into conducting a field study or experiment. I think laypeople — and I was certainly a layperson before SFS — think of science as something that happens in hygienic labs flooded with fluorescent light, conducted by people wearing white coats and latex gloves. I discovered that many scientists are more comfortable decked out in rain pants, covered in mud, and wielding a wrench. Setting up a study requires all kinds of problem-solving skills, many of them mechanical — how do you attach this radio-tag? measure this transect? fix the coffeemaker at 3 am? — and the best scientists have a good bit of engineer in them. As someone who writes about scientists every day, I’ve benefited from being able to talk intelligently and empathetically about just how dang hard fieldwork can be. What is your most profound or lasting memory from your SFS program? For my final project, I took part in a study that examined how bats use rainforest habitat. The fundamental challenge, of course, is that bats are nocturnal; lacking a budget for radio-tags, how the heck do you follow a bat through a pitch-black jungle at 2 am? Jess Wallace, our professor, devised an ingenious solution: Using a biodegradable adherent, we stuck tiny green glowsticks to the backs of captive bats, then turned them loose. Picture a half-dozen 20-year-olds charging through dense rainforest, their eyes fixed on a tiny green speck bobbing in utter blackness, their headlamp beams swinging wildly in pursuit, vaulting over red-bellied black snakes and dodging stinging trees, shouting out “canopy!” or “understory!” to another student striving desperately to simultaneously record data and keep up, everyone drenched in mud and pin-cushioned with thorns. It was beautiful, delirious mayhem. I’d never had so much fun. What do you do for work? I’m a freelance journalist who covers science and the environment, with a focus on wildlife conservation and fisheries management. I’ve written for a variety of publications, including Scientific American, Orion Magazine, High Country News, The Guardian, Earth Island Journal, and many others. In the last couple years I’ve covered enough species to fill a zoo — grizzly bears, salmon, wolverines, salamanders, bison, beavers, sea turtles, and lamprey, to name a few. It’s a blast. What does that actually entail on a daily basis? I spend my days trolling through the scientific literature, combing the tsunami of press releases that crash in my inbox, and perusing local newspapers in search of important stories the national press is missing. Primarily I’m looking for new studies or topics that might pique the interest of my editors and readers. I don’t do a lot of straight “gee-whiz” science reporting; much as I revere the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake, I prefer covering research with practical applications — for instance, how might this new technique for extracting DNA from scat help us protect mountain lions? I often have the opportunity to accompany scientists or government officials into the field; in the past year, my reporting has taken me to Alaska, Montana, Olympic National Park, Lake Tahoe, the Grand Canyon, and the Bahamas. You can learn a lot over the phone; still, nothing beats a high-quality field experience. Photo by Geoff Giller. Did your SFS experience contribute to where you ended up? Absolutely! In college, I knew I wanted to write; like many wandering English majors, however, I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to write about. SFS inspired my passion for biodiversity conservation and helped me channel my journalistic ambitions in a particular direction. Cheesy though it sounds, my path was settled a couple weeks into my SFS experience, the moment I first held a bat — its body warm, soft, trembling, and impossibly fragile in my hands. In that instant, I understood the true meaning of conservation — that animals are beings of flesh and blood, not just abstract numbers on a graph or providers of vague “ecosystems services” — and I knew that in some capacity I would devote my life to wildlife. In 2013, I received a grant from the Solutions Journalism Network to write a series of stories about the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative, or Y2Y, a 2,000-mile-long wildlife corridor that link up parks and protected areas throughout the Northern Rockies. The concept that underpins Y2Y — that isolated parks can’t meet the ecological needs of many species, and that corridors between habitat patches can help creatures migrate, mate, find food, and connect with other sub-populations — was one that I learned about during my time at SFS. I vividly recall touring the properties of dairy ranchers and seeing these thin strips of green, often following riparian areas, that ran from one forest patch to another. The concept captured my imagination, and upon my return to college I set about researching other wildlife corridors, including Y2Y. Six years later, that long-term fascination became a grant and a two-month reporting trip through the Northern Rockies. Subsequently, I published stories about habitat connectivity in Orion Magazine, Earth Island Journal, Modern Farmer, Medium, Conservation Magazine, and other outlets. Reflecting upon those stories, I’m struck by how SFS shaped and informed them. Yes, I’m writing about grizzly bears on the prairies of Alberta and wolverines in the mountains of Montana, but I’m deploying fundamental conservation principles that I first encountered applied to cassowaries and tree kangaroos in Australian rainforest. Are you professionally connected to other SFS folk? Yes! Back in 2014, I was writing a story about salmon habitat restoration in the Columbia River Basin, and a couple of biologists took me out to see some projects in the Deschutes River. We went to inspect a fish weir manned by a few technicians, one of whom looked vaguely familiar from afar. Which she lifted her head, I realized that she was a fellow SFSer who’d collaborated on the bat project in Australia. To the confusion of the other biologists, we embraced on the riverbank, marveling at the serendipity of it all. Over dinner she offered some invaluable wisdom that helped inform the story. Hopefully those kinds of propitious coincidences will become more common as my SFS friends depart graduate school and advance through the ranks of academia and conservation. What advice do you have for other SFS alumni looking to get into your field? For starters, read constantly — not just scientific studies, but ecology’s representation in popular literature. Caroline Fraser’s Rewilding the World, David Quammen’s Song of the Dodo, and Jon Mooallem’s Wild Ones are indispensable additions to any conservation writer’s book shelf. It’s true that the current media landscape is a challenging one — rates are low, newspapers are dying, and myriad writers are competing for the same gigs. At the same time, the web has allowed an incredible diversity of new publications to flourish, all of which are hungry for new writers. (For details on how to break into those magazines and journals, check out a blog post I wrote in 2015 for Canadian Science Publishing.) If you’re a scientist yourself, consider starting out by writing op-eds and dispatches about your own research, and the work of your friends, perhaps in a campus publication; then parlay those writing samples, or “clips” — your currency as a writer — into an internship or additional freelancing opportunities. It’s not the easiest career path in the world, but it’s among the most rewarding — and heck, the academic job market is pretty tough too! Science writing is certainly in flux, but in some ways there’s never been a more exciting time to break in. Finally, if you’re a recent alumni seeking writing advice, or an older one interested in gaining some thoughtful, conscientious media coverage for your research, or if you just want to chat about media and conservation you can reach me at ben.a.goldfarb@gmail.com, or on Twitter at @ben_a_goldfarb. Looking forward to hearing from you! [post_title] => Alumni Profile: Ben Goldfarb [post_excerpt] => SFS inspired my passion for biodiversity conservation and helped me channel my journalistic ambitions in a particular direction. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => alumni-profile-ben-goldfarb [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:28 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:28 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2016/01/alumni-profile-ben-goldfarb/ [menu_order] => 531 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 5062 [nid] => 4284 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 5062 ) [24] => Array ( [ID] => 5214 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2016-08-04 08:57:39 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-08-04 08:57:39 [post_content] => Name: Claudia Polsky Education: B.A. Harvard University; M. Appl. Sc. Lincoln University, New Zealand; J.D. UC Berkeley Law SFS Program: Acid Rain & Limnology, Adirondacks (NY State), Summer 1983; Volcanic Geology, Mt. Vesuvius (Italy), Summer 1984 Current Position: Director, Environmental Law Clinic at UC Berkeley School of Law Why did you choose SFS as a study abroad program? I was drawn to the summer programs that SFS offered because I wanted to try environmental field science. I had always loved science, and loved the outdoors, but had never had the opportunity to combine the two by studying and doing empirical scientific work in the real world rather than a school lab. Reflecting back on your time in the program, what did you gain from your SFS experience? I gained so much from my SFS programs that it’s hard to know where to begin. I not only learned an enormous amount of science, but I found that I really retained it, because it was so grounded in direct, multi-sensory experiences: when I think about lake acidification, I remember trying to do accurate titrations with leaves falling into our sample beakers, and fighting to get an accurate water visibility reading with a secchi disc from a wind-tossed inflatable boat. When I think about dodecahedral crystal forms in volcanic rocks at Mount Vesuvius, I remember how those hot black volcanic rocks also helped us melt fresh mozzarella and tomatoes for our incredible rustic lunches atop the volcano. I also learned a huge amount from my fellow students. In particular, during the SFS program I did right after high school, I became close friends with two older female geology majors, whose influence steered me to study geology in college. What is your most profound or lasting memory from your SFS program? From my program studying acid rain in the Adirondack Mountains of New York, I remember a lesson on aquatic chemistry that we had while dangling our feet in a clear mountain stream. Talking about pH and various rocks’ differential buffering capacity with our toes in the relevant ecosystem really made an impression on me, and I think also helped me grasp some new chemistry concepts. From my program studying the explosive patterns of Mount Vesuvius to help predict future eruptions, I remember an extraordinary night our crew spent atop the active volcano Stromboli, recording its eruptive frequency, but mostly just being awed by the beauty and miracle of watching fiery eruptions up close against a pitch-black sky. I can still hear the sizzle of the lava as it slid downslope to its quenching in the Mediterranean. What advice would you give to a prospective SFS student? Throw yourself into everything – the physicality of the projects (some of ours were quite strenuous), the difficulty of the journal articles you’ll read, the diversity of your team mates, the language of the country you visit. There are few things you will do in life that will give you the opportunity to learn and stretch across so many dimensions at once. Tell us more about your career in environmental law. What accomplishments are you most proud of? I’ve spent my whole career as an environmental professional, with the past 20 years of it as an environmental lawyer working for nonprofits and government agencies. Over the past decade I’ve been deeply involved in helping California develop a regulatory system for addressing toxic chemicals in consumer products. My involvement has taken many forms, from living room strategy sessions with environmental activists to a stint directing a Pollution Prevention and Green Chemistry program at our state toxics agency. The part I most enjoyed, however, was working with a team of scientists, lawyers, and policymakers over a couple-year period to draft a complex and comprehensive set of product regulations and try to make them as defensible as possible in light of anticipated industry attack. I felt like we were charting new and important ground, doing something that was both intellectually and practically challenging, and had real-world impact. This spring, Congress finally overhauled the very outdated Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976; this was an implicit recognition that California and other states had gotten way ahead of our national government in addressing toxics exposures. During the same period that I was working on macro-level toxics issues, I was pursuing a variety of legal angles to address a very specific exposure threat: the emission of semi-volatile chemical flame retardant chemicals from upholstered furniture, which are known carcinogens and also increasingly demonstrated to be neurotoxins, and turn out to be one of the big indoor air quality threats in our homes. I was ultimately able to both advise the California agency that promulgates fire retardancy standards as it reworked its regulations to obviate the need for manufacturers to include toxic flame retardants in household furniture, and to represent that agency in litigation to defend its new regulations successfully in the face of challenge from the flame retardant industry. In late 2015, I was able to buy a couch for my new office that was among the first couches sold since the mid-1970s in my state that did not contain toxic flame retardants. I feel victorious every time I sit on it! And grateful for the opportunity to work on issues that affect human health and the environment very directly. I now direct the Environmental Law Clinic at UC Berkeley School of Law, where I’m helping to train a next generation of environmental public interest and public-sector lawyers. Clinical law teaching involves a combination of academic instruction and hands-on legal projects for real clients. In that way, it’s very much like SFS – experiential rather than abstract learning. In a given day, I might teach a seminar on persuasive legal writing, meet with student teams working on projects related to water pollution or global warming, and then work on a conference presentation related to toxic chemical exposures, which is one of my main areas of expertise. Did your SFS experience contribute to where you ended up? Very directly. SFS definitely deepened my environmental issue knowledge, interest, and career commitment. But as important, it made clear to me that although I’m fascinated by science, I don’t actually enjoy empirical scientific work – when I read scientific journal articles, I am always interested in the abstract and the conclusions, but really glaze over reading about methods. Figuring out through SFS that I wanted to have an environmental career that involved working on science-intensive issues and working with scientific experts, but not do the science myself, was very helpful in steering me towards a career in environmental law and policy. Are you still connected to other SFS folk? Yes, I’ve maintained close friendships with two tent-mates from my SFS summers: we are still in touch after 30 years, and have enriched each others’ lives in many ways. What advice do you have for other SFS alumni looking to get into your field? Environmental work is incredibly varied, and all of its variants are necessary to confront the daunting planetry challenges before us. Along the route to becoming an environmental lawyer, I seriously considered environmental science and environmental journalism, and also spent several years doing land conservation work for The Nature Conservancy. It may take some experimentation to figure out where the tasks you like to do, the skills you have, and the type of impact you’d like to make all converge; programs like SFS are fantastic for letting you explore a number of permutations and find a good fit. → Meet More SFS Alumni [post_title] => Alumni Profile: Claudia Polsky [post_excerpt] => Alumna Claudia Polsky (New York Summer '83; Italy Summer '84) has spent the last 20 years of her career working as an environmental lawyer for nonprofits and government agencies. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => alumni-profile-claudia-polsky [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:28 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:28 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2016/08/alumni-profile-claudia-polsky/ [menu_order] => 416 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 5214 [nid] => 4407 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 5214 ) [25] => Array ( [ID] => 5279 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2016-10-26 08:38:15 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-10-26 08:38:15 [post_content] => Name: Bronwyn Llewellyn Education: B.A. Biology, Mount Holyoke College; Master of Environmental Management, Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University SFS Program: SFS Kenya Spring ‘03 Current Position: Foreign Service Officer with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Why did you choose SFS as a study abroad program? I wasn’t planning on studying abroad at all. I’d grown up overseas so didn’t feel I really needed the “international experience” and I was on a pre-vet track, which meant there were very few programs that offered the transferable science credits I would need to meet all the requirements. However, on the night of the study abroad fair on campus, I was hosting a prospective student and I offered to take her on a tour. When we reached the campus center, we popped into the fair for a few minutes. I will never forget turning the corner and seeing the big display with the photo of the giraffes silhouetted against the setting sun. I chatted with the SFS rep, and looked through the brochure and was immediately drawn to the Kenya program. Not only did it offer transferable science credits so I could still stay on the pre-vet track, the course description was exactly what I wanted to do with my life! Reflecting back on your time in the program, what did you gain from your SFS experience? SO much!!! One of the most critical things I gained was an understanding of all the different career paths open to me. I had always been passionate about conservation, but only knew two ways I could pursue it – through research (PhD route) or, if I wanted to be hands on with wildlife, as a veterinarian (although I knew the chances of actually getting to work with wildlife were minuscule). Through the program I had the chance to meet so many people working on conservation from so many different walks of life! Sure there were vets and researchers, but there were also experts working for the big donors, such as the US government or World Bank, there were folks working for International NGOs, the UN, and local groups, and even diplomats engaged in conservation work. I also learned there were so many different ways to work on conservation, whether that be through fund-raising, community engagement, policy interaction, law enforcement, or park management. When I returned to my college I started to research graduate programs that would get me where I wanted to be, and discovered there were actually a lot! What is your most profound or lasting memory from your SFS program? There are many striking memories, but one of the most important was of sitting up on top of a huge outcropping of rocks listening to a lecture from one of our professors. He used the whole landscape behind him as his prop – no need for maps or PowerPoint when you could just point to the feature you are talking about! That perspective helped me see how everything is interconnected, and helped lead me into my later focus on Conservation Ecology – a discipline where you try to understand the bigger picture and how everything fits together with an eye to how best to conserve your target species or ecosystem. What advice would you give to a prospective SFS student? GO FOR IT!! The program will challenge you and shape you, and you will never be the same again… but you will never look back! What do you do for work? I am a Foreign Service Officer with the United States Agency for International Development. USAID is the lead U.S. Government agency that works to end extreme global poverty and enable resilient, democratic societies to realize their potential. USAID carries out U.S. foreign policy by promoting broad-scale human progress at the same time it expands stable, free societies, creates markets and trade partners for the United States, and fosters good will abroad. USAID works in many sectors, including health, agriculture, democracy and governance, education, and environment. USAID’s environment programming covers a wide swath of issues from environmental compliance (making sure our other projects do not have negative environmental or social impacts), to urban planning, to water management, to energy production, to forestry, to climate change mitigation and adaptation, to biodiversity conservation. As a USAID Environment Officer, I am the technical lead responsible for designing and managing programming that addresses these issues. I just left Nepal, where I was the Environment Team Leader, and am currently the Natural Resource Management and Water Team Leader for USAID/Tanzania. I lead a staff of four other technical experts in climate change, water sanitation and hygiene, community conservation, and wildlife trafficking to manage a series of activities that aim to help Tanzania better manage their natural resources, including wildlife, forests, and water to the greater benefit of the Tanzania people and the preservation of those resources for future generations. What does that actually entail on a daily basis? Generally speaking, a lot of emailing, meetings, and report writing! As a steward of taxpayer dollars I spend a lot of my time ensuring that our money is being used efficiently and effectively, and reporting back to congress what is happening. Of course, to do that well, I do have to get out to the field regularly to see first-hand what is happening on the ground! All the tedious meetings and hours on the computer become worth it when you are riding on the back of an elephant to see a grassland restoration project in Nepal and almost literally stumble over a tiger. Or you get to participate in an exercise to put satellite collars on Rhinos.Or you talk to a group of women in a marginalized community who are now making five times their previous annual salary through an activity that is also helping restore hundreds of hectares of forest. I also get to fund cutting-edge research, such as using DNA to track tigers, and meet with top scientists and explorers to learn what they are doing and see how we can include it in our programming. Some people would prefer to be the researcher, or the person on the ground implementing the project, but I love having my bird’s eye view of the issues (going back to my memory of the lecture at SFS!). I have the opportunity to see the whole system, and work with local policy makers, implementers, and other donors, like other Embassies or the UN, to decide the strategic direction for conservation in the country, and potentially identify and fill important gaps. Designing the next generation of projects is probably my favorite part of the job. Describe an interesting project you’ve worked on in your career. In Nepal, USAID’s biggest project is called “Hariyo Ban”, which means “Green Forest” in Nepali. It covers an enormous swath of the country, including two landscapes: the Terai – the flat plains at the foot of the Himalayas where the rhinos and tigers live, and the Kali Gandaki River basin – which connects the high Himalayas to the Terai. Hariyo Ban has a budget of nearly $50 million USD ($40 million from USAID and $10 million in matching funds) over 5 years. Climate change is an enormous problem in Nepal, where the effects are visible and tangible. Within the Kali Gandaki basin you have the dual problems of glaciers disappearing, leaving mountain communities without access to water, and increased flooding from changing Monsoon patterns in the lowlands. Compounding all this is steadily rising temperatures, driving species up stream in search of cooler climates. Unfortunately the Kali Gandaki has not been historically managed to help facilitate connectivity between protected areas, and there are lots of gaps in the forest. Also, the poorest of the poor – landless marginalized groups – are almost entirely reliant on the forest for survival, and their few other livelihoods options are extremely vulnerable to climate change. Enter Hariyo Ban. One of the virtues of having a large project is that you can take a comprehensive look at a landscape, even one as vast as the Kali Gandaki Basin. They identified areas where there were bottlenecks to biodiversity connectivity as well as where the most vulnerable people lived. Not surprisingly most of these are the same areas! There they work with Nepali Government Officials, community forest user groups, local decision makers, and the poor themselves to find ways to regrow forest, pull people out of poverty, and improve local community access and management of forest resources. It sounds like a tall order, but they have been extremely successful! Did your SFS experience contribute to where you ended up? Absolutely! I didn’t have a clear understanding of what my options were for working in international conservation before Kenya. My time at SFS really opened my eyes to what I could do, and how, and led me to pursue my Masters of Environmental Management. It also more directly led to me getting my first job with World Wildlife Fund – my on-the-ground experience in East Africa was considered a major plus to the hiring committee. After my first Washington DC based WWF contract ended I got another offer to work on the Coastal East Africa initiative, a project that covered Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique. Again, the fact that I had lived in Kenya previously was a huge help in convincing my bosses that I was up for the job. The WWF experiences paved the way for me to join USAID, so you could say I first stepped foot on my path to being a diplomat when I stepped off that plane in Kenya! Are you professionally connected to other SFS folk? Yes! At my first job at WWF, there were a number of people who had attended different SFS sessions, and I’ve also run into a few within USAID. I’m also connected to all of my SFS classmates, and they are all doing amazing things – many directly linked to their time in Kenya. What advice do you have for other SFS alumni looking to get into your field? What do you wish someone told you? I took a fairly straight path from SFS to where I am now. I didn’t take a break between undergrad and grad school, and my career since grad school has steadily built until here. If I could do it again, I probably wouldn’t change anything in terms of what I studied, but I might have taken a bit more time. Peace Corps would have been a fantastic option post undergrad to get more international experience, and to take a bit of a mental break from academia. My other piece of advice is that the Masters of Environmental Management degree that I got at Duke (and there are many similar programs around the country) is really perfect for this kind of work. While you study a lot of hard science as part of the degree, the purpose is not to pursue the science yourself, but to be able to understand it and interpret it for decision and policy makers. You also, in turn, learn how to understand policy and interpret it for practitioners. This skill is extremely valuable whether you work for an NGO, a government organization, or a company, either in the US or overseas. Note: The contents of this blog are the responsibility of Bronwyn Llewellyn and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government. [post_title] => Alumni Profile: Bronwyn Llewellyn, USAID [post_excerpt] => Bronwyn Llewellyn, SFS Kenya Spring '03, describes how her SFS experience has influenced her life and career so far. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => alumni-profile-bronwyn-llewellyn-usaid [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:28 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:28 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2016/10/alumni-profile-bronwyn-llewellyn-usaid/ [menu_order] => 369 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 5279 [nid] => 4457 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 5279 ) [26] => Array ( [ID] => 5375 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2017-03-17 10:07:11 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-03-17 10:07:11 [post_content] => Name: Anna Menke Education: Princeton University, BA in Anthropology, minor in Environmental Studies SFS Program: Costa Rica Summer 2014 Current Position: Fellow, Environmental Defense Fund Why did you choose SFS as a study abroad program? I chose the SFS Costa Rica program because it was a perfect marriage of my interests in international development, environmental sustainability, and Latin American culture. As a varsity athlete at Princeton I was not able to study abroad during the school year, but it was something I really wanted to do. SFS was a perfect opportunity to use my summer to complement my studies while also exploring a new place. Reflecting back on your time in the program, what did you gain from your SFS experience?? I gained tangible field research skills that helped me build my resume for the internship I would apply to the following summer. I also gained a deep passion for Latin American culture and an affirmed sense that sustainability and environmental policy were areas I wanted to continue to focus on, both academically and in my work, going forward. The other intangible thing I gained was some really close friendships. I still keep in good touch with one friend from SFS and intermittently catch up with other friends from the program. The program broadened my network outside of Princeton, which I am very thankful for. What is your most profound or lasting memory from your SFS program? Our class spent three days in the small rural town of El Sur, Costa Rica. During the time, we conducted research for our final independent papers. I had elected to research a social science question about internal human migration and urbanization due to environmental changes. I conducted interviews and administered surveys. I have some very distinct memories of the local people I talked to and the profound curiosity I had for learning about other people’s perception of and interaction with their environment. I didn’t realize it at the time, but this was the beginning of me figuring out why the environment was uniquely interesting to me. I cared about human interactions with the environment. What advice would you give to a prospective SFS student? Go! My experience at SFS gave me so much confidence, independence and perspective on the world outside my small college bubble. That being said, going for an SFS program isn’t enough. Push yourself beyond the bounds of your comfort zone while you are there, if you just hang out with other students in the program you are missing an opportunity. Get to know people who live and work in the area. Work hard - don’t just aim to get by. Appreciate the opportunity to be somewhere else, it is one not everyone has. What do you do for work? I work for the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) on the EDF+Business team. My boss and I are working to engage leading US corporations in federal climate and energy policy issues. Our aim is to motivate US companies to advocate for climate and energy policy. Our theory of change is predicated on the belief that in order to overcome the argument that climate policies will hurt the economy, we need to get the biggest drivers of our economy to verbalize their support for these policies, framing climate policy as a solution in which both the economy and the environment can thrive. Currently, my boss and I work with a broad range of fortune 500 companies engaging them in various conversations and advocacy efforts. A lot my work day to day involves researching these corporations and their past history with and positioning on climate and clean energy policies. This includes understanding their lobbying giving to various lawmakers and PACs, their presence in various trade associations and their commitments to sustainability targets such as greenhouse gas reductions. When I am not doing this due-diligence research, I am in meetings or on calls with these companies and with other NGOs and stakeholders discussing ways to work together to better advocate for climate and clean energy, through targeted outreach to Congress or strategic op-eds and thought leadership pieces. Did your SFS experience contribute to where you ended up? SFS definitely affirmed my passion for environmental sustainability and inspired me to pursue a career in the environmental world. What advice do you have for other SFS alumni looking to get into your field? Experience matters! If you care about something get out there and get experience however you can by volunteering, an internship or shadowing someone. You are going to have to work hard to find the right job for you in the environmental world, there is no linear path. Don’t be afraid to ask people about what they’re doing and how they got into it. This can give you a great sense of the types of jobs that are actually out there. → Sustainable Development Studies in Costa Rica [post_title] => Alumni Profile: Anna Menke [post_excerpt] => SFS definitely affirmed my passion for environmental sustainability and inspired me to pursue a career in the environmental world. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => alumni-profile-anna-menke [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:28 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:28 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2017/03/alumni-profile-anna-menke/ [menu_order] => 291 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 5375 [nid] => 4540 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 5375 ) [27] => Array ( [ID] => 5414 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2017-04-19 09:34:55 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-04-19 09:34:55 [post_content] => Name: Courtenay Cabot Venton Education: BA, Economics, Northwestern University; MSc, Environmental Policy and Management, Oxford
SFS Program: Mexico Fall 1994 Current Profession: Environmental Economist Why did you choose SFS as a study abroad program? I have always been an environmentalist at heart. When I was in high school, I ran the environmental club, and I quickly realized that one of the best ways to get people to protect the environment – particularly in the private sector – was to articulate the economic benefits of doing so. So in college I majored in economics. While Northwestern had an excellent economics department, I really wanted to do environmental economics and the head of my program let me design an environmental focus. One part of that was studying in Baja, Mexico with SFS. Reflecting back on your time in the program, what did you gain from your SFS experience? I gained so much from my experience, and I still wish that I could go back in time. There is nothing better than experiential learning, and my program was a perfect mix of classroom studies and extensive field work. There is something truly unique as well about living and working with your peers, 24 hours a day. It creates incredible bonding moments, but it also really teaches you to work it out when you have a difficulty with someone, and to really get to know people who come from all different backgrounds, interests, etc. What is your most profound or lasting memory from your SFS program? Swimming with a whale shark and rescuing a humpback with a net covering its head! What do you do for work? I am an environmental economist. After college, I worked for a U.S. based consultancy focused on U.S. environmental policy. After I did my masters, I wanted to shift to more international development work, and I started working in developing countries. You can’t work on environmental issues in developing countries without working on poverty reduction. Most of my work focuses on helping donors and aid agencies (UN, USAID, etc) to figure out what is working, and what is not, when it comes to poverty reduction. A lot of my work has focused on evaluating different types of interventions –water, health, livelihoods, etc – to determine those that are having the biggest impact for every dollar spent on poverty reduction. More recently, my work has focused heavily on humanitarian aid, specifically addressing the economic case for early response to crises. My days are either spent at my desk, or in the field. When I am at my desk, I am usually on the phone for the morning with colleagues in Africa and Asia, and my afternoons are focused on analysis and writing. When I am in the field, I am either sitting under a tree discussing poverty and the impact of various interventions with community members, or in the capital city working with government and donor counterparts. My work has taken me all over the world – across Asia, Africa and South America. Did your SFS experience contribute to where you ended up? 100%. My love for being in the field has been heavily influenced by my time in Mexico with SFS. Describe an interesting project you’ve worked on. A few years ago I was asked to evaluate an approach to poverty reduction in Ethiopia. Self Help Groups (SHGs) are groups of 15-20 people – mostly women – who come together to save, invest in small businesses, and support each other and their communities. By saving together they are able to lend to each other for small business activities. But more importantly, by working collectively, the women feel empowered to create change in their communities. What’s more, the approach tends to go viral once seeded, with existing groups helping to set up new groups. Determined to do something more, I pulled together a team and we collectively developed an app that would help facilitators to strengthen and spread the Self Help Group model. The app is designed for the facilitators of the groups, and digitizes the weekly content that they use to run a meeting, We could see the potential for an app to help to deepen and strengthen the spread of the approach. At the time, I had no idea where this would lead, or if we would be successful. With seed funding from private donors, we started small and developed a prototype. That led to catalytic funding from the U.K. government. Three years in, we have funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and a vision for a digital platform to help scale the Self Help Group approach globally. What advice do you have for other SFS alumni looking to get into your field? The best advice that I was ever given was that nothing you do is a waste of time. My path in my work has not been linear – I spent some time buying and selling companies for Ernst & Young! But everything that I have done has given me skills that translate through to whatever project I am working on. I have used my experiences from E&Y to build financial models for green technologies, for example, and the negotiating skills that I learned have been invaluable. So don’t be afraid to try something new or different. It can only open your mind to different ways of looking at a problem. → Learn More about Courtenay’s Work in Reducing Poverty Worldwide [post_title] => Alumni Profile: Courtenay Cabot Venton [post_excerpt] => There is nothing better than experiential learning, and my program was a perfect mix of classroom studies and extensive field work. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => alumni-profile-courtenay-cabot-venton [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:28 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:28 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2017/04/alumni-profile-courtenay-cabot-venton/ [menu_order] => 259 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 5414 [nid] => 4576 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 5414 ) [28] => Array ( [ID] => 5437 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2017-05-05 13:16:59 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-05-05 13:16:59 [post_content] => Name: Jacalyn Beck Education: B.S. (2011) Penn State University; Ph.D. (current) Michigan State University SFS Program: Tanzania/Kenya Fall '10 Current Work: Studying the ecology of carnivores and their prey Why did you choose SFS as a study abroad program? I chose SFS because it was the only program that offered a complete immersive experience in the region where I hoped to study. I wanted to get off the beaten path and get to know East Africa in a way that a typical tourist or student couldn’t. I wanted a program that not only allowed me to study under accomplished local scientists but also challenged me to conduct my own research and contribute meaningfully to larger scientific goals. SFS gave me that and so much more. Instead of reading about wildlife ecology, natural resource management, and policy from a book, I experienced it and learned about it first hand through interviews with community members, meetings with local government, outreach opportunities, and countless trips in the field. I felt like there was never a wasted moment. SFS was everything I had hoped it would be and yet more than I could have ever imagined. What is your most profound or lasting memory from your SFS program? It’s truly impossible to pick! I could write a novel with all the amazing memories I made during my time with SFS. But what I really believe was most profound is not a memory at all, but a feeling. The thing I cherish over all else is the complete sense of excitement and contentment that pervaded everything we did during the program. Yes, there were times of stress while studying or collecting data, of course there were moments I felt tired or confused or frustrated over some small thing. But really there was never a time in my life when I felt happier or more alive than I did during those months in Kenya and Tanzania. It was the sense of family I built with others in the program, the acceptance and love I felt from the community and staff, the sense of accomplishment in the work I was a part of. As our then-director Dr. Moses Okello would say, “my cup of joy was overflowing!” What advice would you give to a prospective SFS student? I would tell every prospective SFS student to never give up on themselves or their goals. SFS students are ambitious, curious, and compassionate. They are the type of people who chase dreams and change the world. If that describes you, then never lose sight of that despite life’s many challenges and setbacks. If you hold on to your passions, work hard, and never settle, you cannot fail. What are you working on now? I am currently a Ph.D. student at Michigan State University. I work in the RECaP Lab (Research on the Ecology of Carnivores and their Prey -- alongside some of the best scientists I have ever met. Together we work to study predator-prey interactions and support the conservation of species all around the globe. The two main ecosystems we currently focus on are the Cleveland Metroparks where we investigate how carnivores and their prey thrive in an urban landscape, and Eastern Africa where our research efforts span from giraffe skin disease to lion depredation of livestock to illegal snaring of predators. For now, what I do is all preparatory. I began working towards my Ph.D. last fall (2016) and have spent the last two semesters taking a few classes, grant writing, and planning my research. I was recently awarded a Graduate Research Fellowship through the National Science Foundation (NSF GRFP). This was my third attempt at the grant and final year of eligibility. So to finally achieve it on my last try means so much. This is a huge honor and gives me a leg up as I pursue my lion research over the coming years. With this award I am more ready than ever to get back to Africa and get to work! I will be heading to Tanzania this summer to start the first phase of my study. This will entail direct collaboration with local herders, conducting focal animal observations on the behavior of cattle and other livestock, and collecting data on the biotic and abiotic factors driving direct and indirect interaction between lions and cattle. The main focus this summer will be to investigate the ways in which cows may alter their behavior in locations of high predation risk. This work will be the basis of my dissertation research overall as I dig deeper into how individual variation in behavior plays a role in human-carnivore conflict. I will continue this theme over the next several years by collaring, following, and monitoring the fine-scale movement patterns and behaviors of all individuals within a lion pride. I hope to gain new insight into the ecology of predator-prey interaction that may lead to decreased conflict in the region. Did your SFS experience contribute to where you ended up? Absolutely! I always knew I wanted to work with large carnivores and have been passionate about studying African species since college. My time at SFS Kenya/Tanzania, however, really opened my eyes to the human aspects of wildlife management in the region. The people I met and worked with were so passionate about finding solutions to their wildlife conflict issues that I was absolutely inspired to help them achieve that goal, and have been ever since. After leaving Africa in 2010, I worked continuously to build the skills and experiences necessary to qualify me to take on this role as a professional scientist. Now, as a Ph.D. student, I will be doing just that. And SFS continues to support my efforts and contribute to where I am headed. I will be working in collaboration with Dr. Bernard Kissui (who now holds the title of director at SFS Tanzania, and who was my professor of wildlife management when I attended the program) and the Tarangire Lion Project that he heads. Sharing data and resources with Dr. Kissui and SFS is an integral part of my research design. My partnership with SFS not only influences my success as a graduate student, but also my own sense of personal accomplishment. I am extremely proud to be an SFS alumna and to continue my work with the program! What advice do you have for other SFS alumni looking to get into your field? SFS alumni looking to start a Ph.D. should remember to try to be patient. As with the current job market, there are more qualified people pursuing graduate education than there are openings. Be persistent and be professional. Do not get discouraged. Occasionally, all the pieces fall into place and the path leading to a PhD is clear. But more likely, it will require a whole lot of time, effort, and patience on your part. [post_title] => Alumni Profile: Jacalyn Beck [post_excerpt] => I am more ready than ever to get back to Africa and get to work! [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => alumni-profile-jacalyn-beck [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:29 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:29 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2017/05/alumni-profile-jacalyn-beck/ [menu_order] => 245 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 5437 [nid] => 4591 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 5437 ) ) ) [gallery] => )
						
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                            [post_date] => 2017-07-14 11:00:38
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                            [post_content] =>  

Name: Beth Alberts
Education: University of California Berkeley, A.B. in Biochemistry; Stanford University, M.A. in Education and Teaching Credential; Alliant International University, M.A. in School Counseling
SFS Program: Ecuador Summer 1988 - Jatun Sacha Biological Center (Ethnobotanical Studies)
Profession: Science Teacher and College Counselor

Why did you choose SFS as a study abroad program?
It seems like a million years ago but I still remember clearly why I chose SFS. I wanted an adventure. I had been a serious and focused student throughout my life. I wanted to try something completely different and a little bit scary. At SFS, I was still serious and focused but I was also in the Amazonian Rain Forest! Coming from San Francisco, that seemed just about as adventurous as life could get for a inner city kid. 

At the time, I thought I was very, very brave. And it was different back then. I was literally cut off from contact with everyone I knew in the world. There were no phones, no computers, no fax machines, no connectivity. There were old-fashioned letters. But “after having seen the only town in the area, I have lost all faith in any mail getting home.” I was isolated and remote from everything I knew. And it was exactly what I wanted. As a result, I gained confidence in myself and an abiding trust in humanity. I have retained this trust throughout my life.

What did you gain from your SFS experience?
I developed a love for Ecuador and its people, and with that came the much broader appreciation for the wisdom and knowledge of cultures throughout the world. Our human experience is incredibly diverse and amazing. There is always more to learn and there are so many brilliant teachers. I still carry many of them with me: Jaime who taught us about forest regeneration and the interdependence of jungle species. He was the coolest! Rocio who taught us about the foods, medicines and spiritual life of the local community. She read my palm and predicted my future. David who taught us how to run controlled experiments with little ”real” equipment and massive environmental factors that were always working against us - the heat, the mud, the wind, the rain, the mold! Alejandro, who taught us to look for signs of the big dangerous snakes when we were out in the field and painted us with achiote to honor and protect us. He lived in a house on stilts with no walls in the middle of paradise. These are only a few of the people who taught me and impressed me.

My fellow students from the United States were also amazing. I met adventurous, smart people from all over the country and from all different U.S. cultures.

What is your most profound or lasting memory from your SFS program?
(See above. Really it was the people!) But my most lasting and impactful science memory was that my experiments were all INCONCLUSIVE! This created a paradigm shift for me. After all those years of reading about successful experiment after successful experiment that led ‘seamlessly’ to our current scientific dogma and after all those high school and college labs that ‘worked’, I realized that the MAJORITY of SCIENCE EXPERIMENTS are FAILURES!

I spent countless hours, trying to figure out why there was no plant growth at the base of the Piperacea trees in the forest. I ran controlled experiment, after controlled experiment carefully testing the different possibilities. Nothing, nothing and nothing. I didn’t make any great discovery or even gain any insight into the question. I was seriously disappointed.

Now, I very consciously teach my own students that failed experiments are normal and expected. Successful experiments are rare. I challenge the science history found in textbooks. My students do ‘real’ experiments in my classes. They fail. They are inconclusive. But they always learn something. The focus becomes what next? What can we improve to make this experiment better? Scientific thinking is the basis for all my teaching. Experiencing real science is the thing I plan for. It is what engages my students as active learners.

What advice would you give to a prospective SFS student?
Go for it! Be scared, be nervous, be apprehensive but do it anyway. Your limits will be tested. You will look back and realize that those were some of the most fulfilling times in your life.

What do you do for work?
I am a science teacher and a college counselor in the public school system. Every day, I work with high school students from varied backgrounds. I get to help them learn academically and plan for their futures. My job entails a lot of prepping, logistics, communication, love, support, patience, dedication and belief in the future. It also requires collaboration with other education professionals and community organizations. Everyday, there are hundreds of things that come at me that I have to deal with. I have to keep a class of 35 students engaged and on task, as I mull over what to do about a student who is in an inappropriate foster care situation. I have to respond to anxious parents as I write letters of recommendation for their children and collect data for the principal to take to the board meeting. I have to monitor the academic progress of my students who may not graduate, contact the Special Education teacher and grade yesterday’s science labs. Oh - and I have to pick up Elodea, crickets and soil for the lab rotations on Monday!

Most recently, I was hired to revise the remedial science curriculum for our school district. Students who fail science classes must take credit recovery classes after school, on Saturdays or in dreaded summer school. In the past, most of these “science” classes were textbook and worksheet-based. They were dreary and not very educational. You could hardly call them science classes. I had a budget and the freedom to redesign and implement a new curriculum. Now, these classes are hands-on, inquiry-based and student-centered. The teachers enjoy teaching the curriculum and the students prefer the active learning - even if they still have to go to summer school.

Did your SFS experience contribute to where you ended up?
The SFS experience absolutely enriched my abilities to be an effective science teacher and contributed to where I ended up. I was exposed to teachers and students who were working off the grid, in the field. They were gritty and resourceful, engaged and curious. I wanted to bring that energy, determination and resourcefulness back to San Francisco for city kids to experience.

What advice do you have for other SFS alumni looking to get into your field?
Teaching is the most important job in the world and it is the most difficult job in the world. Teacher burnout is brutal and destructive to our society. Teachers need to be paid much, much more and the workload needs to be reduced. Most people can not financially afford to be teachers anymore and most drop out after a few short years of teaching. You can plan on that or you can commit to the long haul and make it work for you. If you are a science teacher, you have a great value to school communities. Figure out how to maximize your value. In order to remain a science teacher, I have had to negotiate and redefine myself to make it work for me. Otherwise, I would have dropped out a long time ago too. Find the right school community to work in. Look for collaborative, supportive, joyful learning environments. Find excellent mentor teachers and administrators who value teachers more than politics. Stay tough and stay gritty. Always bring love to the job!
                            [post_title] => Alumni Profile: Beth Alberts
                            [post_excerpt] => The SFS experience absolutely enriched my abilities to be an effective science teacher and contributed to where I ended up.
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                            [post_content] => Becky Halvorsen, SFS East Africa Fall ’10, has a thrilling story about camping in the Serengeti:

“One of the night guards, named Askari Bora, spoke hardly any English but he made fantastic animal noises,” she said. “He did a particularly awesome hyena impression. ‘Fisi hehehehehehe, Askari Bora BAM BAM BAM,’ he would say, while pantomiming thwacking a hyena with his club. During the middle of the night I woke up to that cackling hyena noise. All I could think was, 'Askari Bora, it is the middle of the night, why are you making animal noises outside our tent?' Then I heard a roar and I realized that wasn't a human making those noises! When we got up in the morning we were told that lions had killed a zebra on one side of camp and the hyenas on the other side were trying to steal their kill. We were in the middle of a battle for dinner! It made me appreciate our night guards all the more.”

This was exactly what she had signed on for. When she chose SFS Kenya/Tanzania over other study abroad programs, she was hoping for close encounters with the beautiful and unique animals of the savanna – elephants, lions, wildebeest, hyenas, zebras, giraffes, hippos, and more.

However, she was also seeking an experience that would go beyond any sort of typical safari tourist experience. “I wanted to be working and living with the local people,” she said.



Becky’s semester in Kenya and Tanzania provided her with opportunities to get to know some of the Maasai villagers, including a day-long homestay with a local family. “I spent the morning playing with a little four year old girl. We played head-shoulders-knees-and-toes in Swahili, we drew in the dirt, and we played other games common with little kids at home. When we were walking to the river to get water, she held my hand. At one point, her little brother came up a tried to take my other hand. She stopped him and redirected him to Kate, the other SFS student, with a comment that I could not quite understand, but the gist of it was: this is my mzungu, or white person, you can have that one.”

“I ended up falling in love with the people there,” said Becky. “It was one of the experiences that helped me make up my mind about pursuing a career in medicine.”

This July, Becky is returning to Kenya with SFS to participate in the field practicum in public health and environment. She is looking forward to spending more time focusing on the environmental issues that affect the health of rural Kenyan communities, like access to clean water and quality health services.

After the program, she will spend six months volunteering with Nyumbani Village, a self-sustained community that pairs orphans and elders who have lost their families to the HIV pandemic. “It will be another life changing experience and I think I will come out of it feeling more prepared to conquer even bigger goals, including medical school, which I will start in the fall,” she said.

Good luck, Becky, with all your future adventures!
                            [post_title] => Alumni Profile: Becky Halvorsen
                            [post_excerpt] => Becky Halvorsen has a thrilling story about camping in the Serengeti.
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                            [post_content] => As I filled out my immigration form, I realized that I didn’t have the address. Crap. I remembered my passport, snorkel gear, bathing suit, AAA batteries for the site manager, espresso roast coffee for the environmental policy professor, but I forgot to get the address for the Center. I scribbled down “South Caicos” and hoped that the agent would not ask too many questions.

When it was my turn, I walked up to the counter and presented my papers. “You are going to South Caicos?” the uniformed border agent asked.

“Yes,” I replied.

“With The School for Field Studies?” he asked.

“Yes.”

“Okay, go ahead,” he said, waiving me through.



Whew! I was glad they know us at the airport. I walked through Provo’s small airport and into Gillie’s restaurant. I ordered a cold red Gatorade and watched CNN on the television. Obama’s healthcare law had been upheld by the Supreme Court by a narrow margin. Sitting in this Caribbean café, The US seemed very far away.

Sanjay Gupta was describing the verdict and its implications for health care in the states, but I hurried along to catch my flight on TCI Air. It was a small propeller jet with only eight seats, but we cruised along with few bumps over the azure water.

At the South Caicos airport, Center Director Heidi Hertler picked me up in the passenger van. It was bigger than my airplane. Heidi not only runs our Marine Resource Studies program in the Turks and Caicos Islands, but she is also an alumna herself, having participated in an SFS program in the Virgin Islands in 1987.

“It changed my life,” she said. Before her SFS experience, Heidi was pre-med at Bates College. After diving and studying marine life for a summer session, she made a swift shift in her career path to oceanography and environmental studies.

I arrived at the field station, and my mouth dropped open. It is perched up on a cliff with a truly spectacular, panoramic view of the ocean. I was dazzled, and a bit disoriented, by its beauty, but I managed to pull myself together for a site tour with the Student Affairs Manager and SFS alumna Kimbrough Mauney (TCI Summer ’00).

The field station, formerly a hotel called the “Admiral’s Arms Inn,” has been our home in the Caribbean since 1990. There is an outdoor dining area, kitchen, pool, dormitory, and classroom. Down the steps, past the scuba dive shed and the remains of an old sea salt storage facility, there is a dock where we keep three boats.

According to Kimbrough, not much has changed at the Center or in the community of South Caicos since she was a student here in the summer of 2000. There are a number of new tourism developments being built, however, so change looms on the horizon.



That night, I had a chance to visit the future site of one of these developments when I tagged along with the students on a camping trip. The wide sandy beach is adjacent to property owned by Sailrock, an American company building eco-friendly residences.  We pitched our tents on sand as white as sugar, then gathered around a bonfire for marshmallows and charades. As the fire burned down to coals, I crawled into the tent and slept like a rock.

The next morning we piled in the van to head to the old Coast Guard lookout. Alumna and waterfront assistant Chrissy Lamendola (TCI Spring ’10), led us on a “lazy river” snorkel, floating with the current around mangroves. I saw a giant barracuda and a flounder, along with many smaller tropical fish.



That night, back at the Center, we had a demonstration on how to crack upon a conch shell and clean it. You tap the top part with the hammer to loosen its grip, then use a long, sharp knife to extract the animal and clean away the organs. That night, we dined on delicious conch fritters! I tried to get the recipe, but exact quantities were hard to come by! “Add a little ground up conch, put in a little flour and some red peppers and onions, then deep fry in hot oil.” Conch is one of the main fisheries on the island, alongside spiny lobster. I wasn’t able to taste the lobster since it is not in season, but I saw many of them tucked in coral-covered crevices while snorkeling!

An excursion to another soon-to-be operating tourist development on the island, East Bay, was postponed, so the students had extra time to prepare for their upcoming exam on resource management and marine protected areas. Since I work in alumni relations at SFS, I gave a quick talk about the SFS alumni community and the amazing feats our students go on to accomplish. I have a feeling that we will be hearing great things from this group in the future.



The next morning at 7am, I was awoken early by blaring music from the local Haitian church. It must have been quite the party! The preacher interspersed sermons in French and English with pop music by Celine Dion and Brittany Spears. With “Hit Me Baby One More Time,” now stuck in my head, I wandered into the dining room for breakfast. That morning, after site cleanup, students were either diving or snorkeling, and I joined the snorkeling group for a trip out the Long Cay. Kimbrough was my “buddy” and she pointed out spiny lobster, French grunts, flamingo tongues, an eel, and a school of barracuda. Somehow, I missed the octopus and eagle rays that the students spotted!







Later that afternoon, we invited the local island children to the field station for swimming lessons, games, and art projects. Lena Weiss, an alumna from TCI summer 2011, helped arrange a donation of numerous children’s swimsuits from the Swimmers Choice store in Syosset, New York, so there were plenty of suits to go around. I manned the coloring station and invited children to color transparent pages of tropical fish. We hung them on the rafter and they flitted in the breeze.

Sunday, my last day on the island, is a free day for staff and students. I took a long walk around town, snapping photos of the dilapidated former Governor’s mansion, the regatta where Queen Elizabeth once landed her royal yacht, the elementary school decorated with a beautiful mural painted by SFS students, and the local shops, bars, and churches. After dinner, Kimbrough was kind enough to take me on a night snorkel, where our flashlights illuminated the nooks and crannies of the rocks and coral. She dove down to scoop up a sea cucumber and pointed out a puffer fish. Unfortunately, the puffer fish was too fast for me; it darted under a rock before I had time to set my eyes upon it!

Before I knew it, it was time to head home! It was incredible to be able to spend some time with this amazing group of students and this dedicated, talented staff. I hope to be able to return someday, and maybe next time, I will see an eagle ray!










                            [post_title] => HQ in the Field
                            [post_excerpt] => The field station, formerly a hotel called the "Admiral’s Arms Inn," has been our home in the Caribbean since 1990.
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                            [post_content] => On a recent trip to the SFS field station in the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI), SFS staff member Marta Brill had a chance to sit down and chat with two of our newest waterfront interns, Chrissy Lamendola and Amanda Greenstein. Both of these diving safety rock stars attended the University of San Diego and participated in the SFS-TCI program as students. Chrissy was here in Spring 2010, and Amanda came along the next year with the Spring 2011 cohort. Read on to find out about the life of an SFS intern, where “just another day at the office” sometimes means swimming with hammerhead sharks.

Marta Brill: So, how did you first find out about SFS?

CHRISSY: I found out about SFS my freshman year in the mailroom, of all places. I saw one of the posters hanging up there with cards to tear off, and I thought, ‘This seems awesome!’ I tore off one of the little slips and held on to it until my junior year, when I looked into all the programs and got really excited. What attracted me to the TCI program specifically was all the diving and snorkeling that you could do.

AMANDA: University of San Diego is an affiliated school, so there are posters everywhere and they also have meetings scheduled regularly where SFS alumni show pictures and answer questions from students. I remember going to a session and thinking, ‘This sounds so cool.’ I went with TCI because I wanted to be in the water as much as possible, and I wanted to dive.

MB: And, looking back on your time as a student, is there a particular memory or moment that stands out in your mind?

CHRISSY: When I was going through customs, on my first day, the man reviewing my paperwork told me about the lionfish problem. I had no idea what he was talking about. But he said to me, ‘You have to do something about the lionfish.’ When I got to the Center, I found out that that was a Directed Research project I could do. So, I jumped on it.

AMANDA: I remember my first dive at the grotto. We went down to sixty feet and I saw a reef shark for the first time and I was blown away. My heart was pounding out of my chest, I was so excited. It was a really special moment.  I was stunned by the beauty of the water and the diving and the whole experience. This was very early in the semester, but I was already thinking, ‘This place is incredible.’

MB: What do you think you gained from your semester? What were the real takeaways?

AMANDA: I felt a major tie to the community here on South Caicos. I really got to know what this place was all about. Many people who come to the Turks and Caicos come as tourists, but I had a very different experience than that. I was immersed in the culture here and I got a deep understanding of what some of the real issues are. It is not as simple as just saving the environment. You have to think about the social and economic aspects.

CHRISSY: When I first arrived, I was freaked out by how isolated South Caicos is, even though of course, you still have access to all the essentials. But, that isolation forced me really look inside myself and figure out who I was as a person. In the absence of external influences, l could figure out who I really was, what I liked and what I didn’t like. Plus, I came away with strong friendships with students from all around the US and in other countries.

MB: Tell me what motivated the two of you to come back here and work for us as interns?

CHRISSY: I never wanted to leave. When Amanda came back from her semester we met up for lunch, and she said, ‘We are both going to get our dive masters, and then we are both going to go back as interns.’ And I thought, ‘Sure, okay, we’ll see if that really happens.’ But, a year later, here we are!

AMANDA: I knew halfway into the semester that I wanted to be an intern here. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do after I graduated. This seemed like the perfect opportunity and I loved what the program gave me. And I really like the environment here, the feel of the whole Center; the relationship between the students and the staff is really close, like family.

MB: Can you describe a typical day for an intern at SFS-TCI?

CHRISSY: Wake up.  Go to two or more meetings. Then you do your morning duties, which could be equipment checks or whatnot. Then, depending on the day of the week, you’re either diving and snorkeling, or doing research field activities, or just basic boat or mooring maintenance. Next, it is lunch, which you are always ready for. In the afternoon, you do field exercises with the students or go on a field trip with them. Then dinner, and then sometimes you do a night dive or a night snorkel.

MB: And how is it going so far? Any good stories? 

AMANDA:  Well, on our first dive back here we went to the arch, and after about five minutes, a hammerhead shark swam by. Then, at the end of the dive, we saw a pod of five dolphins and a huge turtle. And I thought, ‘This is incredible. If this is any sign of the year to come, this is going to be awesome.’ It was the best dive you could imagine.

CHRISSY: It was a sign!

MB: What do you think is next for you? Do you have a dream career in mind?

AMANDA: I am hoping that this year will give me a better idea of what I really want to do. I am interested to see what opportunities might come from this experience. I can explore what specific area of marine science I want to eventually pursue in grad school.

CHRISSY: I want to do marine mammal rehabilitation and a big part of that is education. By working here, I get a lot of diving experience, but at the same time, I get education experience. This should help my resume stand out.


                            [post_title] => A Day in the Life of an SFS Intern
                            [post_excerpt] => SFS staff member Marta Brill sits down and chats with two alumni and our newest waterfront interns, Chrissy Lamendola and Amanda Greenstein.
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                            [post_content] => Jeffrey Flocken (SFS Kenya Summer '90) is the DC Office Director at the International Fund for Animal Welfare. He recently coauthored a book called Wildlife Heroes with fellow conservationist Julie Scardina that has been featured on the TODAY SHOW, the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, NPR, and Sirius Radio, and has received endorsements from celebrities like Ted Danson, Jack Hanna and Dr. Jane Goodall. All profits from the book will support wildlife conservation efforts.

I had always wanted to help wildlife; however, I wasn't sure in what capacity. SFS offered the opportunity to experience conservation first-hand and get a feel for what it would mean to work in the field as a wildlife researcher. I'd always dreamed of studying wildlife in Africa. SFS was exactly what I was looking for.

The course attracted amazing people! I actually met and shared a hut with a student who ended up being the best man in my wedding fifteen years later. He was the first vegetarian I had ever met, and he inspired me to give up meat as well (22 years and still going). We bonded over the experience of studying in Africa and our passion for wildlife conservation, and we stayed friends for years. He died tragically of cancer two years ago, but before he did he worked in the Peace Corps and started an organization in southern Africa helping people with AIDS. Since graduating, I have run into other students and instructors from my class who have also devoted their lives to wildlife conservation and the environmental movement. The funny thing is, although I was looking to gain field experience, and I really did love it, my time at SFS helped me decide that I, personally, could do more good for conservation with policy work than with field research. As soon as I got back to the University of Michigan, I switched my focus from science to pre-law and have been doing wildlife conservation from a policy and education perspective ever since. Some of my career highlights have included spending two months in India filming a documentary on tigers, creating the flagship endangered species program for a national conservation group, traveling the Brazilian Pantanal for an educational wildlife expedition, and working for the U.S. government on an annual 10-million dollar grant program to help internationally endangered species. Five years ago, I was offered the job of DC Office Director for the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW). In this position, I head-up U.S. policy for an international organization that carries out wildlife conservation and animal welfare projects in over thirty countries around the world. I work with a staff of dedicated professionals (lobbyists, lawyers, communicators, and policy experts) who analyze opportunities for creating or improving U.S. wildlife policy to better conserve wildlife and promote animal welfare. This means working with government officials, businesses, scientists, congressmen, or fellow conservationists -- whatever is necessary to promote and advance sound wildlife practices in the U.S. I was also one of the lead authors on a petition to list African lions as Endangered under the US Endangered Species Act – which if successful, will save hundreds of imperiled lions from needless deaths every year. I saw my first wild elephants when I was on the SFS course in Kenya. Now, many years later, I was directly part of a victory that will stop thousands of elephant ivory pieces from being sold online. My office speared-headed an investigation into U.S. websites being used as platforms for buying and selling endangered species and their parts, in particular the sale of elephant ivory. As a direct result of our work, the world’s largest buyer-seller website, eBay, agreed to ban ivory on all their sites. This victory means fewer opportunities for selling ivory from poached elephants, a species still seriously threatened with extinction. Recently, I ventured into new career territory: wildlife author. I coauthored a book called Wildlife Heroes with a fellow conservationist Julie Scardina. In it, we profile 40 real-life conservationists and the animals -- and the threats to biodiversity -- that they are dedicated to working on. We wrote the book because we've both been so inspired by individuals we've come into contact with around the world saving animals, and we wanted to share their stories. The wildlife crisis our world faces is huge, but luckily there are amazing individuals tackling the problem. Sales have happily surpassed expectations. Apparently people are eager to hear inspiring stories about helping animals, as we’re on our third printing since it was released in March 2012. It helps that we've gotten good media attention from outlets including the TODAY SHOW, the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, NPR, and Sirius Radio, as well as endorsements from celebrities like Ted Danson, Jack Hanna and Dr. Jane Goodall. And, my coauthor and I are giving 100% of our profits to wildlife conservation, so all sales help animals, which I think makes people feel good about buying the book itself.

Interviewing 40 of my personal heroes was amazing. Many I already knew from my own wildlife conservation career, but every one of them inspired me all over again after learning anew about their unique contributions to saving wildlife. I am so obsessed with animals that I can’t help but be starry-eyed when I talk to people who have dedicated their lives to saving them. Without a doubt, I got where I am today because I am passionate and committed to wildlife conservation. I always knew what I wanted to do, and I pursued it with vigor, taking advantage of every opportunity to learn more about the field and meet people involved in it. For anyone interested in pursuing a career path like mine, I advise you to network aggressively and don’t be afraid to take chances. And most importantly, take advantage of every opportunity to get out into the field and see the animals you are working to protect. That is what keeps you motivated! Meet more SFS alumni [post_title] => Alumni Profile: Jeff Flocken [post_excerpt] => Jeffrey Flocken (SFS Kenya Summer '90) is the DC Office Director at the International Fund for Animal Welfare. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => alumni-profile-jeff-flocken [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:25 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:25 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2012/08/alumni-profile-jeff-flocken/ [menu_order] => 1074 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 4023 [nid] => 3486 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 4023 ) [5] => Array ( [ID] => 4033 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2012-09-05 13:10:01 [post_date_gmt] => 2012-09-05 13:10:01 [post_content] => “When I got back here, I wanted to jump right in the water and say hi to the French grunts,” said Kimbrough Mauney, Student Affairs Manager at the SFS Center for Marine Resource Students in the Turks and Caicos Islands. “They are still there! And really, not much has changed in twelve years, other than some concentrated tourist development. There is a new road and about 3000 more hotel rooms in the works.” French Grunts She first got acquainted with the island of South Caicos, its beaches and reefs, and its vibrant and diverse marine animals while an SFS student in the summer of 2000. “I knew I wanted to study the oceans. This was a perfect summer opportunity. At SFS, the academics were demanding, and the professors had rigorous credentials. I appreciated that. Developing a strong relationship with them made me want to keep pushing myself throughout my studies. They were passionate about their research, and had traveled the world pursuing their subjects, and I wanted to be like that.” After graduating with a B.S. in oceanography from Duke University, Kimbrough pursued a master’s degree in environmental education at the Western Washington University. She moved to Anchorage, Alaska seven years ago, where she managed a high ropes challenge course and rock wall, expanded her knowledge on Pacific Ocean issues and important species (such as salmon and tidal zone invertebrates), and contributed to numerous local environmental and educational initiatives focused on reducing food waste. Kimbrough has returned to SFS-TCI as a staff member overseeing student affairs, safety and risk management, community outreach, and the smooth operation of daily life at the field station. “I want the students to enjoy themselves, to stay safe and healthy, to do their academics well, and to do their fun time well. But, I also hope they say to themselves ‘wow, that was a cool professor. I want to be like that someday. I want to be that passionate about my research.’ I want them to say ‘research is cool, professors who do research get to do cool things.’” She said she also hopes that students take away an appreciation for the simple things. “This is a developing community, and it is different than what students are used to back home. We appreciate avocadoes here because we don’t get them often,” she said. “We appreciate bananas and fresh water. When they return home, I hope students remember what it is like to live with limited resources.” From their first days on the island, students are taught about constraints on water, food, and electricity, and they are asked to live sustainably within these limitations. For example, students are asked to take just one freshwater shower per week, turn off the lights and fan when they are not necessary, and be mindful about not wasting food. “It is a great program, and it is academically strong. I am so happy to be a part of it,” she said. Meet more SFS alumni [post_title] => Alumni Profile: Kimbrough Mauney [post_excerpt] => I knew I wanted to study the oceans. This was a perfect summer opportunity. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => alumni-profile-kimbrough-mauney [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:25 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:25 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2012/09/alumni-profile-kimbrough-mauney/ [menu_order] => 1067 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 4033 [nid] => 3492 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 4033 ) [6] => Array ( [ID] => 4049 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2012-09-26 07:15:24 [post_date_gmt] => 2012-09-26 07:15:24 [post_content] => The SFS Center for Rainforest Studies - known affectionately as Warrawee - is turning 25! For the past quarter-century, staff and students at CRS, alongside community partners, have contributed to the reforestation and preservation of the World Heritage-listed Wet Tropics. Help us celebrate this milestone by designing a limited-edition t-shirt. The winning design will be featured on a commemorative t-shirt, and proceeds from the sale of this shirt will support our program in Australia. The winning artist will receive a gift certificate to The SFS Store! Contest Guidelines
  • Only SFS alumni and current students are eligible.
  • You must incorporate The School for Field Studies, Australia, and Warrawee’s 25th Anniversary into the design.
  • Your design may include line art and text but no photographs. Please limit your design to 5 colors, including black.
  • Your design is for the front of the shirt and may encompass an area up to 10 x 10.
  • The design must be your own original work and must not include any third-party logos or copyrighted material. By entering the contest, you agree that your submission is your own work.
Submitting an Entry
  • Please submit high-resolution images in .eps, .jpg, or .png formats. Max file size: 2MB.
  • Submit images electronically to alumni@fieldstudies.org, with the file name as your last name.
  • Submissions are accepted until Friday, November 2nd, 2012.
The Fine Print
  • The School for Field Studies reserves the right to make changes to the winning design before printing, including changes in image size or ink color or t-shirt color.
  • By submitting your design, you grant permission for your design to be used by SFS including, but not limited to, the website, the t-shirt, and future marketing materials.
  • SFS reserves the right to final decision.
[post_title] => 25th Anniversary "Design a T-Shirt" Contest [post_excerpt] => The SFS Center for Rainforest Studies - known affectionately as Warrawee - is turning 25! [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 25th-anniversary-design-a-t-shirt-contest [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:25 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:25 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2012/09/25th-anniversary-design-a-t-shirt-contest/ [menu_order] => 1053 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 4049 [nid] => 3507 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 4049 ) [7] => Array ( [ID] => 4076 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2012-10-19 09:21:22 [post_date_gmt] => 2012-10-19 09:21:22 [post_content] => SFS alumna Jen (Loose) Ryan Costa Rica Spring ’94 learned a lot from riding the buses through Central America, even if she did not realize it at the time. “Looking at the massive erosion from certain agricultural practices gave me a sense of how important good environmental laws and regulations are. I saw for myself what happens when you don’t have that kind of structure. And I think that led me to the kind of work I am doing now. It took me a while to get here, but that experience planted a seed in the back of my mind that laws and regulations are tremendously important.” For the past six years, Ryan held the position of Legislative Director for Massachusetts Audubon, where she advocated for laws and policies on Boston’s Beacon Hill to protect the nature of Massachusetts. She recently left to spend time at home with her two young children before she embarks on the next phase of her career. “Advocacy is a lot of fun,” said Ryan. “It is always varied, so you get to meet a whole range of people and work on a range of issues. It has been a tremendous experience for me personally and professionally.” “Massachusetts Audubon is working vigorously to defend the state’s endangered species act," said Ryan, "which is under attack from a small number of land owners and developers who are trying to roll back endangered species protection. They are also focused on reducing carbon emissions and tackling climate change by creating incentives for environmentally responsible green energy in Massachusetts, and providing incentives for communities to reduce their energy use, use higher efficiency cars, and deploy clean energy.” There is no official career path for getting into advocacy work, although it helps to be good at building relationships and have a strong attention to detail. Ryan arrived at her position on Beacon Hill through studies in entomology. Yes, that’s right. Bugs. “I love the beauty and complexity of insects,” she said. “They are a whole other universe on another scale than we normally operate in, and they are fascinating in their variety, especially in a place like the rainforest where the number of tree species per acres is higher than anywhere else and the numbers of insect species are too.  And when you look at them under a magnifying scope, they are complex and beautiful with colors and forms that you wouldn’t expect.” As an undergraduate student at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, Ryan was contemplating switching her major from anthropology to evolutionary biology and ecology before embarking on her SFS program. Her study abroad experience with SFS Costa Rica, and the wide range of biodiversity she encountered there, inspired her to take the plunge. “I went back, switched my major, and got a job working in the lab of Dr. David Wagner, an entomologist at the University of Connecticut. It took me an extra year of college to finish, but I did some great work with moths and butterflies and gypsy moth control in the national forest of West Virginia.” She went on to pursue graduate work in entomology, and got her Master’s from the University of Maine in Orono. She began working as a conservation biologist for the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife’s Natural Heritage and Endangered Species program. After five years of doing field work and permitting for the Commonwealth, she began to move into inter-agency policy work, especially around public health issues regarding insect borne diseases including eastern equine encephalitis and West Nile virus. “The more I got involved with regulatory work, the more I felt like for me, personally, I could do more good on a broader scale on the policy side of things than I could with site specific or on the ground work.” Just this summer, after six years of effort, Ryan and her team successfully advocated for updates to the Massachusetts Community Preservation Act, which provides funding at the local level for land conservation, affordable housing, historic preservation, and recreational assets. This will help communities to use ‘smart growth’ principles, protect their historic resources, have safe playgrounds for kids, and protect open space.  To date, the Community Preservation Act has resulted in over 15,000 acres of natural areas protected in the Commonwealth.  It is a great example of how environmental advocacy makes a difference in our towns, and in our lives. Meet more SFS alumni [post_title] => Alumni Profile: Jen Ryan [post_excerpt] => SFS alumna Jen (Loose) Ryan learned a lot from riding the buses through Central America, even if she did not realize it at the time. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => alumni-profile-jen-ryan [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:25 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:25 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2012/10/alumni-profile-jen-ryan/ [menu_order] => 1034 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 4076 [nid] => 3528 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 4076 ) [8] => Array ( [ID] => 4078 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2012-10-23 09:37:52 [post_date_gmt] => 2012-10-23 09:37:52 [post_content] => This post was originally written and published by Jaymi Heimbuch on Treehugger.com. Follow Jaymi and the Oceanic Society on Twitter. © Wayne Sentman In the photo above, a group is being taught how to measure leatherback sea turtles, thanks to a couple human volunteers. And, the photo above illustrates a lot of what Wayne Sentman does as a biologist and tour leader with Oceanic Society, a nonprofit conservation group. Traveling the world, Sentman takes small groups of people ("voluntourists" with Oceanic Society) everywhere from remote atolls in the middle of the Pacific Ocean to wildlife reserves in Kenya, teaching participants about the wonders of the natural world and engaging them in field work themselves. Here's Sentman in his business suit: © Wayne Sentman I first met Sentman at the airport in Honolulu. A friend and I were picking him up on our way to another airport, this time for a plane taking us all out to Midway Atoll. During the week I spent with Wayne, throwing question after question at him and hearing not only interesting answers to the questions but stories about his travels and studies as well, it occurred to me that this guy really has one of the most amazing jobs in the world. So, putting aside questions about endangered sea turtles and monk seals for once, I asked him about his job. © Wayne Sentman So, you have one of the coolest jobs in the world. You travel the globe with Oceanic Society teaching groups of people about amazing ecosystems and conservation efforts to preserve them, from Midway to Belize to Kenya. How did you land this gig? A bit of luck and a lot of post-undergraduate, poorly paid seasonal wildlife biologist jobs. Right out of college I participated in a School for Field Studies Wildlife Management semester in Kenya program. It was here that I really understood that I wanted my "office" to be outdoors, and that I wanted to work with on the ground conservation programs. Next I ended up working as a kayak guide in Loreto, Baja California Sur, Mexico for a wonderful group called Sea Quest Expeditions where I first had the opportunity to share my love of the outdoors with groups of "eco-tourists." Leading week long self-contained kayaking trips in the Sea of Cortez, having fin whales glide under my kayak, only cemented my desire to figure out how to keep doing this kind of work. Finally in 1998 I ended up moving from San Francisco to Hawaii, helping to monitor endangered Hawaiian monk seals on remote Midway Atoll for the National Marine Fisheries Service. It was here that things all started to come together. Oceanic Society had worked out a partnership with US Fish & Wildlife Service to utilize paying tourists or eco-volunteers to assist in monitoring the monk seals on Midway. I was finally able to combine my love of science and research with education. Over the last 14 years, with Oceanic Society I have been able to use my background in the conservation of marine ecosystems and human-wildlife conflict to travel to a variety of locations around the globe helping ecotourist groups get out and see firsthand the beauty of nature and the challenges we all face in trying to promote its conservation. © Wayne Sentman What's the most fulfilling part of your job? There are two things that I find most rewarding. The first is helping individuals that might be a bit scared of certain parts of nature to start to feel comfortable, relaxing enough so they can experience their connection with nature. On some trips in the past we have even had silent days where no one in the group says a word for the first half of the day. At these times the group is forced to truly experience the smells, sounds, and sights of where we are. It can be a powerful experience on many levels. The second most fulfilling thing is helping people on our trips be better consumers when they return home. To have them start to connect their experiential travel to their habits at home is wonderful. If you like sea turtles then how can you go home and pig out on shrimp, an industry that kills thousands of turtles? If you go to Midway and see an albatross carcass full of plastic, you will never look the same way at a plastic lighter again. Leading trips for so many years I am lucky enough to have the same individuals do multiple trips with me, I have been able to see how collectively their experiences have inspired them to look beyond their own backyard and strive to live more responsibly as part of an international community. © Wayne Sentman What's the most frustrating part of your job? How sometimes people allow the inconveniences of travel (delayed connections, bad weather, simple food, crowing roosters) to detract from the important part of what they have come to experience. Sometimes you have to put up with the mosquitoes, 6-hour canoe ride in the rain, and 4-day diet of rice and a "meat" in order to see something incredible. In fact many times it is exactly because it is so challenging to get to that some of these natural areas still exist. © Wayne Sentman How has your outlook on conservation been altered by the work you do with Oceanic Society? In working with Oceanic Society over the years I have helped to develop a variety of "voluntourism" research programs. Many of these programs have taken place over 10 years or longer. Because of this I have been able to repeatedly return to areas and see them succeed or fail in their conservation efforts. One of the things I have learned is how valuable an organization like Oceanic Society can be to International research programs by committing to these efforts not just for the term of a Master's degree but for multiple years. I have also witnessed how sharing these remote places with a concerned and interested group of people can often lead to fortifying an international constituency for otherwise "invisible" efforts. Finally returning to sites year after year has allowed me to see the benefit to local people that having the opportunity to share their culture and "backyard" nature with tourists can provide. The ability to share their nature (and occasionally benefit from that sharing) sometimes engenders a unique perspective about what it is that people have that is "valuable." Many folks that we work with in other countries go on to start or grow their own in-country businesses directed at conserving nature. As I return to these places the ones that successfully find a path to solve their conflicts always have committed local individuals that have devote great portions of their life to the effort. © Wayne Sentman What's the best comment you've ever heard from someone on an Oceanic Society tour? "I cannot believe I paid this much money to be so nervous" - Oceanic Coral reef monitoring volunteer just prior to her first Fish ID "check-out" snorkel. Whispered around 2:00 AM: " So you mean this leatherback could be older than any of us in this group?" Reply from one member of a group of four sea turtle nesting volunteers (all 65 or older) filling out a data sheet for a nesting Leatherback in Suriname. © Wayne Sentman "That was the highlight of my life! If the rest of this trip goes to hell I would not care!" - Remark from a 71-year-old Oceanic member after feeding a liter of milk to an orphaned Rhino in Kenya. Group member on an 11-day snorkeling trip in Micronesia Day 1 - "I really do not want to see any sharks, I will probably get out of the water if we see one." Day 2 - "DID YOU SEE THE SHARK IT WAS SO COOL" Day 8 - "I was trying to swim closer to the shark so I could get a better look at it." If you'd like to take part in an Oceanic Society Expedition (and you should!!) then check out the list of Expeditions they have around the world and pick a date. From Baja to Antarctica, from Midway to Kenya, from Tonga to the Galapagos, you can be part of an amazing adventure while at the same time helping to protect and preserve the places you're visiting. © Wayne Sentman [post_title] => SFS Alum Has "Coolest Job Ever" [post_excerpt] => Traveling the world, Sentman takes small groups of people ("voluntourists" with Oceanic Society) everywhere from remote atolls in the middle of the Pacific Ocean to wildlife reserves in Kenya... [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => sfs-alum-has-coolest-job-ever [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:26 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:26 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2012/10/sfs-alum-has-coolest-job-ever/ [menu_order] => 1031 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 4078 [nid] => 3530 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 4078 ) [9] => Array ( [ID] => 4104 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2012-11-14 13:17:02 [post_date_gmt] => 2012-11-14 13:17:02 [post_content] => "Farm City" was the first selection of SFS READS, our new book club! We do not have a formal meeting or membership, it's just a chance for everyone in the SFS community to come together and exchange ideas. If you have some thoughts to share on "Farm City" or urban gardening, please let us know in the comments! Novella Carpenter is an Urban Farmer. It's a label she stumbles upon while carousing at a local speakeasy and it is a perfect fit to describe her unusual lifestyle. Novella may live in "the ghetto" of Oakland, California, but that doesn't stop her from pursuing her agricultural dreams: from cultivating heirloom vegetables and fruit to keeping bees to raising poultry, rabbits, and even pigs. The obstacles she encounters are uniquely urban. She must deal with teenage gang members, neighborhood dogs, and the not-so-minor detail that she is squatting on a vacant lot destined to one day be the site of condominiums. Her creative and resourceful solutions are urban, too. She picks weeds out of sidewalk cracks to feed the  poultry, raids the Chinatown dumpster for her pigs, fashions pens out of objects discarded by the highway, and befriends a local restaurateur who shares his kitchen and techniques. During one particularly challenging month, she experiments with living completely off the land and finds that it is possible. The fruits, veggies, eggs, and rabbits are plentiful. Home-brewed tea replaces coffee. Carbs prove to be more elusive with her disappointing potato crop, but she makes do by grinding up some ornamental corncobs for pancakes. It's a moment of great accomplishment, but also great consternation. Her breath begins to stink, she is constantly hungry, and she misses the camaraderie that accompanies a great meal out at a local restaurant. In this book, it is the livestock, rather the garden, that take center stage. New farmers must learn to nourish and care for their animals, but they must also learn to kill them. This is a two-pronged process. First, you have to investigate the physical process of killing. As Novella diligently asks the advice of others and checks out books from the library, the reader gets a glimpse of what it takes to move livestock from pen to plate. Secondly, you must come to terms with ending the life of a beloved pet named Maude. Not many Americans have the experience of knowing their meat, unlike in generations past. With Novella's words, the reader gains a new respect for dinner. Throughout "Farm City," the reader is treated to Novella's bright spirit, engaging wit, and humility. She is not a "trustafarian," as she calls some members of the privileged class experimenting in agricultural side projects. She is eking out a life doing something she loves. The concept of farming the ghetto may seem a bit far-fetched at first, but her story shows that it is not only feasible, it can also be satisfying, ethical, sustainable, and a lot of fun. [post_title] => SFS Book Review: Farm City by Novella Carpenter [post_excerpt] => "Farm City" was the first selection of SFS Reads, our new book club! [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => sfs-book-review-farm-city-by-novella-carpenter [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:26 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:26 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2012/11/sfs-book-review-farm-city-by-novella-carpenter/ [menu_order] => 1011 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 4104 [nid] => 3550 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 4104 ) [10] => Array ( [ID] => 4148 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2013-01-10 12:43:18 [post_date_gmt] => 2013-01-10 12:43:18 [post_content] => There is a wooded path near my home that, until recently, welcomed runners, bikers, and dog walkers with this cautionary sign: Passing the sign on my evening runs was disheartening, but it was also intriguing. How did my quaint seaside neighborhood get so polluted anyway? I did a little research. It turns out that from about 1840 to 1906, this site was home to the Forest River Lead company, where workers produced 6,000 tons of white lead (a base ingredient for paint) per year in one of the country’s largest factories of its kind. The last building burned down in the late 1960's, and the toxic woodlands and beach lay empty and undeveloped for decades while clean-up talks and proposals went nowhere. A fence was installed to restrict access to the land and waterfront and limit possible exposure to lead, but residents still frequented the open pathway that cuts through the property. I admit it. While I did not welcome the pollution or appreciate the lack of public access to the waterfront, I found the history riveting. I liked to imagine the now quiet, empty land when it was bustling with workers, dotted with smokestacks, and humming with the clanging of 19th century industrial activity. So, when I picked up Andrew Blackwell’s book, “Visit Sunny Chernobyl,” (our SFS Reads selection for December) I could relate. The author is altogether fascinated by contaminated landscapes, and by the people that live and work there, too. But unlike me, who envisions historical degradation, Blackwell travels to toxic and filthy spots in their prime. Inspired by a chance visit to Kanpur, India and its “dysfunctional sewage treatment plants, illegal industrial dumps, poisonous tanneries, and feces strewn beaches,” he embarks on a tour of the places he deems to be “the world’s most polluted,” including Chernobyl, China’s coal country, the Western Garbage Patch, India’s Yamuna River, and the tar sand mining operations of Alberta, Canada. The book reads like a travel memoir. While it provides an excellent history and overview of each area, it focuses more on Blackwell’s personal observations and experiences. He deliberately visits them as a tourist might – checking out the local museum, taking the guided bus tour, and going for leisurely hikes and boat rides. He chats with local residents, attends local festivals, and tries to get sense of what it’s like to be part of these notorious communities. And, he does seem to have a pretty good time in these sullied and desecrated places! Along the way, he makes the case that we should start accepting and understanding the planet as it is – full of people, industry, and even waste – and not as a romanticized wilderness. Sustainable solutions to large environmental problems must take into account the people that depend on natural resources for their livelihoods. This becomes most clear for Blackwell, perhaps, in the Amazonian rainforest, where he realizes that a group of loggers can be “angels of sustainability.” It is a sentiment we often hear from SFS students, who learn to view environmental problems from an economic, political, and sociological perspective, as well as a biological one. They see the complexity of conservation work and gain an entirely new outlook after meeting with local fishermen, farmers, ranchers, and ecotourism operators. Recently, I interviewed Emma Impink Kenya Spring ’09 for an alumni profile, and here is what she had to say on the subject: “I’ll never forget one day, when I was conducting interviews during my SFS Directed Research Project, a young man in Kuku Group Ranch asked me why I, an outsider, was doing this research when someone in the local community could do it more effectively. It was a surprising moment that challenged me to really think about my role in the world and the importance of facilitating local leadership and involvement in issues. It provoked an ongoing reflection on the role of ‘outsiders’ and the potential for community partnerships to address pressing development issues. I firmly believe that without local investment and engagement, even a well-meaning intervention cannot be sustained.” These are wise words indeed. And as for my local polluted site? A deal was finally been brokered to launch a million dollar clean-up project in the area. The forest was razed, soil and sediment were excavated and removed from the site, and fresh, uncontaminated sand and dirt were brought in. By April 2012, the digging and filling was complete, and workers began planting new trees and shrubs. The sign has been removed, and when I take an evening run, I pass green meadows and a lead-free salt marsh; its former polluted state is now just a memory. "Visit Sunny Chernobyl" was our second selection for SFS READS, our new book club! We do not have a formal meeting or membership, it’s just a chance for everyone in the SFS community to come together and exchange ideas. If you have some thoughts to share on “Visit Sunny Chernobyl,” please let us know in the comments! And let us know your ideas for our next book pick! [post_title] => Book Review: “Visit Sunny Chernobyl” [post_excerpt] => "Visit Sunny Chernobyl" was our second selection for SFS READS, our new book club! [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => book-review-visit-sunny-chernobyl [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:26 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:26 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2013/01/book-review-visit-sunny-chernobyl/ [menu_order] => 977 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 4148 [nid] => 3583 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 4148 ) [11] => Array ( [ID] => 4151 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2013-02-01 10:47:29 [post_date_gmt] => 2013-02-01 10:47:29 [post_content] => The post was published in Today @ Colorado State, here. Miranda Babcock-Krenk is a senior [at Colorado State University] majoring in Zoology. She studied with The School for Field Studies in Tanzania and Kenya during the Fall 2012 semester, and was a recipient of the Office of International Programs Undergraduate Study Abroad Scholarship, which helped fund her experience. "These past four months studying wildlife management in East Africa have taught me many things. I know how to shoot a bow and arrow, carry water on my head, and patch up a Maasai house with cow manure. I know how to distinguish wildebeest dung from cattle dung, tell if a male elephant is potentially aggressive, and how to remove snares set by poachers. I’ve learned to not settle for a marriage proposal unless it is at least 30 cows, to always chase away baboons that are trying to steal your potatoes, and that it is possible to make a real connection with someone even if you do not share the same culture, beliefs, or language. I can now untangle acacia bushes expertly, ask for directions in Swahili, and use a GPS. I’ve learned that African sunsets can take your breath away, that the glowing eyes of a hyena at night can be hauntingly beautiful, and that shared silence can be more meaningful than hours of conversation. Most importantly, I now know that I am capable of so much more than I ever thought and that I will always keep this experience close to my heart. As the director of our program told us on our last night in Kenya: 'Be happy, be good, and do good for others.' This is how I want to live my life and how I hope I can continue sharing my experience with others." Kwa heri, Miranda [post_title] => Alumna Reflects on Experience Abroad in East Africa [post_excerpt] => Miranda Babcock-Krenk is a senior at Colorado State University majoring in Zoology. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => alumna-reflects-on-experience-abroad-in-east-africa [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:26 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:26 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2013/02/alumna-reflects-on-experience-abroad-in-east-africa/ [menu_order] => 974 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 4151 [nid] => 3586 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 4151 ) [12] => Array ( [ID] => 4214 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2013-04-04 11:54:06 [post_date_gmt] => 2013-04-04 11:54:06 [post_content] => “I’ve never been a ‘road well-traveled’ type of person,” said Katlin Kraska. This adventurous attitude carried the DePauw University student to East Africa last spring to study wildlife management with The School for Field Studies (SFS). Soon, she will depart for Indonesia on a prestigious Fulbright award to explore mechanisms for improving community empowerment through the wildlife tourism industry. “The research experience I got with SFS was invaluable, and that is what I based much of my methodology on for my Indonesia project,” she said. Kraska will be conducting community-based surveys in the vicinity of Ujung Kulon, a wildlife reserve on the southwestern tip of Java which provides natural refuge for the Javan rhinoceros as well as other endemic primate and predatory species. She plans to ask local residents about the ways in which they interact with wildlife and how tourism benefits, or does not benefit, their daily life. She has always had a strong interest in animals, and in human-animal relationships and interactions, but her first exposure to wildlife tourism operating on a large scale was in East Africa. She joined the SFS Directed Research project on this topic, led by Professor John Mwamhanga, and had the chance to survey people living in the Tarangire-Manyara ecosystem of Tanzania on their perceptions of the wildlife tourism industry. “Some of the results were pretty astounding. One of the main questions that I asked was: do you think the government values people, wildlife, or both?” she said. “More than half thought that the government valued wildlife over people, and about a third said both….so only a small sector answered that people were the priority for the government.” Kraska noted that much of the tourism industry in that region of Tanzania is run by outside entrepreneurs that operate large, self-contained establishments. The money made does not make its way into the hands of the local community members, and thus, they do not perceive that they have a stake in conservation or preservation. “If anything,” she said, “they might come to dislike wildlife because the animals eat their crops and livestock.” Getting to know the thoughts and viewpoints of local residents, both through her research and daily life at the field station, was definitely a highlight for Kraska. At the end of the project, she presented her research to the local community – an experience she describes as “one of the most impactful moments” from her time abroad. “We did a short homestay on Easter, and I got along really well with my host family. I never thought I’d see them again, but then my host dad showed up to our research presentation. He doesn’t speak a lick of English and my Swahili was pretty terrible at that point, but just seeing him there and seeing how interested the whole community was in what we were doing, that showed me that our reciprocal relationship was real and genuine… I realized that people are the same anywhere you go. Cultures are different, traditions are different, practices are different, but people are people and that’s the bottom line.” Meet More SFS Alumni [post_title] => SFS Alumna Receives Fulbright Award [post_excerpt] => “The research experience I got with SFS was invaluable..." [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => sfs-alumna-receives-fulbright-award [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:26 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:26 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2013/04/sfs-alumna-receives-fulbright-award/ [menu_order] => 929 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 4214 [nid] => 3631 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 4214 ) [13] => Array ( [ID] => 4242 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2013-04-26 06:47:01 [post_date_gmt] => 2013-04-26 06:47:01 [post_content] => Happy Arbor Day! The simple act of planting trees can go a long way towards combating soil erosion, habitat loss, water quality degradation, and even climate change. On SFS programs around the world, students join with community members in both large and small-scale plantings of indigenous seeds and saplings. Enjoy these “before and after” photos from the paddock area of the SFS Center for Rainforest Studies in Australia. In the fall of 1993, SFS student Warren Goetzel snapped these images of his classmates as they planted 500 trees on a grassy hilltop. This now forest-covered area is nearly unrecognizable! Ciara Legato, Student Affairs Manager in Australia, revisited the spot twenty years later to capture its transformation. Here’s what she wrote: “We (Center Director Amanda Freeman and I) hiked out to where the planting was back in ‘93, and it looked COMPLETELY different. The forest is huge, and dense, and not that easy to photograph.” [post_title] => Warrawee Planting: 20 Years Later [post_excerpt] => Enjoy these “before and after” photos from the paddock area of the SFS Center for Rainforest Studies in Australia. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => warrawee-planting-20-years-later [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:26 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:26 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2013/04/warrawee-planting-20-years-later/ [menu_order] => 914 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 4242 [nid] => 3651 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 4242 ) [14] => Array ( [ID] => 4371 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2013-10-17 10:29:14 [post_date_gmt] => 2013-10-17 10:29:14 [post_content] => In honor of the 25th anniversary of the SFS Centre for Rainforest Studies in Australia, we reached out to our alumni to ask about some of their fondest memories from the Wet Tropics. We heard back from many, including Gwendolen Gross Australia Spring ’88, an accomplished novelist, who wrote: “A great adventure and much fodder for my first novel, Field Guide! I’ve published four more, but the world of Millaa Millaa will always be vivid in my memory.” In Field Guide, the main character Annabel Mendelssohn travels to North Queensland, Australia to study spectacled flying foxes at a research station not unlike SFS. She soon settles in to life among scientists in the rainforest – listening to the dawn chorus, avoiding leeches, and hiking past stinging trees. But her newfound tranquility is interrupted by the mysterious disappearance of her professor and mentor, Dr. John Goode. We recently interviewed Gwendolen to learn more about the intersections between her SFS experience and Field Guide. Why did you decide to study abroad with SFS in Australia? It was 1988, my junior year of college at Oberlin. I adored Oberlin, but was fascinated by the idea of field science. I'd always wanted to write about science—fancying, perhaps, a job as a National Geographic journalist—and I'd done quite a lot of backpacking and adventure —read: budget —travel. I picked up a brochure at a campus fair for programs abroad, and knew SFS was for me. It was later I learned I preferred an amalgam of invented and real world fiction to science journalism. How did the idea first come to you to set your novel at a field station, and in North Queensland in particular? I worked in textbook publishing after college—nursing and science textbooks—and did quite a bit of freelance writing for science supplements. Then I worked in children's books, and found a tiny ad in the San Diego free paper for a lunchtime Brown Bag writing workshop—and began writing poetry. This led to a wild outpouring of creative writing, and a fellowship with PEN West, and the realization that even if it wasn't exactly practical to get an MFA in writing, I had paid off the first round of student loans, and I had to give writing some serious attention. My very first novel, which lives in a drawer, was about a girl who would sing before she could speak. I could whistle before I could speak. But when I got to grad school, I was ready to write about the extraordinary place I had studied abroad. Millaa Millaa really was a character all its own. The story is rich in detail...describing the humidity, the flora and fauna, the national parks...but it was published in 2001, many years after your student experience. How did the memories stay so fresh? Lots of those details stayed with me—as details probably stay with anyone who lives an SFS adventure. It's such a different sensory experience. For me, writing is about relating the sensory world, sharing how things smell and taste and feel with someone else. As a reader, I want to taste and feel and hear, and suspend disbelief. Readers can live in the frame of the book, the invented, or captured world. I also had journals and notes, tons of notes, about the bats, on my waterproof paper! Do bats intrigue you as much as they do your main character? They do, they really do. I was hoping that Annabel could use bats as a lens to see herself--to see how we all live in colonies, whether in a group house in North Queensland or an apartment building in New York City. We're animals of space and community culture, of collective work and isolation at the same time. Competition and collaboration. In many ways, young adulthood is about understanding that, and understanding how we move from one family into the world of our next, chosen families. You have gone on to publish numerous books since Field Guide. Is the sense of place a defining characteristic in all your novels? I hope sense of place is important in each. After the first two books, Book Magazine dubbed me, "The Reigning Queen of Women's Adventure Fiction." I am very proud of that title, though my next books deal with other landscapes – the landscape of relationships. In The Other Mother, I explore the conflicts between a stay-at-home and working mom. In The Orphan Sister, I look at sisterhood. The latest, When She Was Gone, has a strong sense of place—but the characters create the place. With each book, I hope to always get closer to telling the truths of life—not the facts, but what seems truest to me, about how we relate to each other, how we connect, and how we miss. [post_title] => Alumni Profile: Gwendolen Gross [post_excerpt] => In honor of the 25th anniversary of the SFS Center in Australia, we reached out to alumni to ask about their fondest memories from the Wet Tropics. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => alumni-profile-gwendolen-gross [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:26 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:26 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2013/10/alumni-profile-gwendolen-gross/ [menu_order] => 809 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 4371 [nid] => 3751 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 4371 ) [15] => Array ( [ID] => 4474 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2014-03-24 04:00:31 [post_date_gmt] => 2014-03-24 04:00:31 [post_content] => Dr. Kate Mansfield TCI Spring’ 91 is a marine scientist and sea turtle biologist at the University of Central Florida. She and her team have recently published a paper in Proceedings of the Royal Society B on the whereabouts of baby sea turtles during their “lost years”—the time spent between hatching on the beach and adolescence, when they turn up again in the waters around the Azores and Madeira Islands. To track the tiny turtles through the open ocean, they developed a clever (and safe) solar-powered transmitter tag that allowed for long-term monitoring (of up to 220 days!). Satellite mapping showed fast speeds in the currents of the North Atlantic Subtropical Gyre and stop-offs in the Sargasso Sea. Read more on the study here. How did an SFS experience contribute to Kate’s education and her career as a marine biologist? Read our interview below! Why did you choose SFS as a study abroad program? I learn best when I'm not sitting at a desk or expected to regurgitate information. I knew I was interested in marine biology and management and wanted to get some hands-on experience. My college had a great Biology program, but at the time, they didn't offer classes that focused on marine science. SFS helped fill that gap! What is your most profound or lasting memory from your SFS program? I have so many memories from the SFS program on South Caicos! I used to really enjoy watching the ocean around the time of sunset when all of the spotted eagle rays would jump out of the water. Our class also had the fun opportunity to meet and interact with Jacques Mayol, the famous free diver. He brought his home movies to show the students and then would swim with us in the mornings (I think some of the students challenged him to a race, but he out-swam everyone). What did you gain from your SFS experience? Field skills. Aside from improving my SCUBA skills, I learned so many field sampling techniques, particularly underwater sampling techniques, which really helped me when I was applying for internships and jobs after college and even after I received my Master's degree. Are you professionally connected to other SFS folk? A couple of my collaborators on a turtle tagging project in Brazil were SFS instructors and interns on South Caicos after I was there as a student. Small world! What advice do you have for other SFS alumni looking to get into your field? Build up strong field (or laboratory) skills—this is what helps make you marketable to field-based programs. Gain "life experience", too. When considering taking on graduate students, I look for those who have more practical “outside of the classroom” experience. [post_title] => Alumni Profile: Kate Mansfield [post_excerpt] => Dr. Kate Mansfield (TCI Spring’ 91) is a marine scientist and sea turtle biologist at the University of Central Florida. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => alumni-profile-kate-mansfield [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:26 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:26 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2014/03/alumni-profile-kate-mansfield/ [menu_order] => 946 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 4474 [nid] => 3832 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 4474 ) [16] => Array ( [ID] => 4511 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2014-05-02 07:22:46 [post_date_gmt] => 2014-05-02 07:22:46 [post_content] => Congratulations to Colby Halligan of Elon University; Michelle Stuhlmacher of George Washington University; and Jenna Wiegand of Oregon State University. This August, these three recent SFS alumni will be presented the prestigious Udall Scholarship in honor of their commitment to careers in the environment, leadership potential, academic achievement, and record of public service. We commend your achievements! Continue below to read the scholars' profiles.
Name: Colby Halligan School: Elon University Major: Environmental Science SFS Program:  Kenya and Tanzania Fall 2013
I chose SFS Kenya and Tanzania for an adventure, for the opportunity to learn more about myself and my passions, and to explore a new culture and environment. I could not be more grateful for the opportunity to recognize my passion for nutrition in the developing world. My favorite memory of my SFS experience remains in the Serengeti as our safari car drove into the dusk. I remember thinking to myself, “I know how best to love those around me, and that’s by supplying good food to people in the world that need it.” My intention upon being awarded the Udall Fellowship is to obtain my MPH as a certified dietician and work to develop farm-plot nutrition plans for malnourished women and children. This summer, I will be interning on an organic farm in Tuscany through the Spannocchia Foundation, an organization focused on natural resource conservation, sustainable agriculture, and global dialogue. I am thrilled for the opportunity to help facilitate the empowerment of malnourished communities by sharing resources, knowledge, and enthusiasm.
Name: Michelle Stuhlmacher School: George Washington University Major: Geography SFS Program: Costa Rica Summer 2013
I was first drawn to The School for Field Studies because of the hands-on environmental curriculum. The summer program was a great chance for me to get research experience and see sustainability in action outside of the U.S. I chose the Costa Rica program because I am really interested in Latin American culture and the rainforests and biodiversity. For the Directed Research portion of the summer, I had the honor of being part of Dr. Achim Haeger's team. I gained a much better understanding of the research process because we were able to see how a research project began, go out into the field to collect data, and then analyze that data, run statistical tests, and write up our findings in a paper. Additionally, Dr. Haeger and I submitted an article that built off of the summer's research, and I am listed as a co-author. The article is still under review, but I am very excited about potentially being published as an undergraduate. This is a huge step in the right direction for my future education and career goals. This coming fall I plan on applying to geography Ph.D. programs. I want to research climate change adaptation and mitigation for my dissertation. Ultimately, I'd like to become a professor so I can both research and teach. Climate change will require a long-term solution so I think it is important to educate and inspire the next generation of students to study climate adaptation and mitigation.
Name: Jenna Wiegand School: Oregon State University Major: Business SFS Program: Turks & Caicos Islands Fall 2013
I am beyond excited for the opportunities this scholarship will give me and the Udall alumni group I'll be a part of. My experiences and life reflection as part of SFS were instrumental in changing my career goals and aspirations, and highlighted significantly in my application. With a growing interest and appreciation for sustainability, I was drawn to SFS as an opportunity to both deepen my understanding of ecology and to live out the sustainable practices I’d been learning so much about and aspired to implement. I wanted to shake up my lifestyle and broaden my worldview—and SFS delivered! The depth of what I learned hands-on in the environment and while working in the local community was beyond what I had expected, contributing to an indescribable experience. This remote island and the community there captured my heart and made me reevaluate my career aspirations in light of global problems that really matter: I now want to apply my business background to work in microfinance and focus on issues including poverty, conservation, inequitable climate change impacts, and third world development. During my time in South Caicos I learned that creating social change is hard: it’s hot, it’s dirty, it’s long hours, it’s full-on commitment. But the work is worth it—hugs and careworn smiles and local enthusiasm are just evidence of a community on the road to something better. [post_title] => Three SFS Alumni Named 2014 Udall Scholars [post_excerpt] => Congratulations to Colby Halligan of Elon University; Michelle Stuhlmacher of George Washington University; and Jenna Wiegand of Oregon State University. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => three-sfs-alumni-named-2014-udall-scholars [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:27 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:27 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2014/05/three-sfs-alumni-named-2014-udall-scholars/ [menu_order] => 918 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 4511 [nid] => 3857 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 4511 ) [17] => Array ( [ID] => 4626 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2014-10-10 05:00:20 [post_date_gmt] => 2014-10-10 05:00:20 [post_content] => This post was originally published on DePauw University's Live & Learn: The Hubbard Center Blog. Name: Casandra Brocksmith Off-Campus Study Program & Location: The School for Field Studies (SFS) Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) What did you study while off-campus?  Marine Resource Management How did you connect with your community off-campus?  SFS did a great job connecting us to the community during our time spent there.  Three days a week we were working with the community.  On Wednesdays we would travel to the local elementary school and help with an activity of our choice (PE class, in-class work, etc.)  Then on Saturdays the local community kids would come to our center and we would provide them with educational games and activities.  The focus of these activities was to educate the kids on the resources around them and how to appreciate and improve the conditions in their community.  On a weekend day we were placed with a family in the community who needed some kind of assistance, whether that be with their kids or to sit and spend time with an elderly woman.  My placement was to sit and spend time with the oldest lady on the island, who was 100 years old and still lived by herself.  Since South Caicos was a small island, the whole community really valued personal relationships and getting to know everyone who inhabited the island. As far as field research, we were constantly out in the field.  I took many of my exams out in the ocean on waterproof slate.  The program really emphasized the field research aspect and we were constantly out and about doing hands-on learning/research. What was your most memorable experience?  Wow, I would say it would be impossible to narrow it down to one specific experience.  I was lucky enough to have countless memorable experiences while abroad, but I will pick out one of my many favorites.  On Wednesdays and Saturdays we would go scuba diving in the mornings.  This gave us the opportunity for us to get a better look at all the different environments we were learning about in our classes.  It was always incredible, but this specific dive trumped the rest.  I descended 100 feet underwater that day with some of the best friends I have ever had (people I met on this program) and when we got to our depth I saw some of the coolest things.  We saw a few sharks on the dive, a pod of dolphins swam by, and a friendly little sea turtle was checking our group out.  I was ecstatic.  After ascending to the top and getting back on the boat we were all smiling ear to ear and couldn’t believe it.  A few moments later one of our professors pointed and exclaimed loudly, a migrating humpback whale and her baby were breaching in front of our boat.  The spring is the season when the whales and their new babies make the journey past South Caicos and up to Cape Cod.  Hands down the coolest day of my life.  We were all crying happy tears only because of all the amazing things we had just seen in such a beautiful place. What were you most apprehensive about with your off-campus study experience and how did you overcome it?  I was most apprehensive about being so far away from home for that long of a period of time.  I would not consider myself a huge homebody necessarily, but I had still not spent more than a month away from my family and definitely had never been 1,533 miles away.  The program was really conscience of this transition for us and was very helpful.  One of the first nights they spoke to us about how we would work through them.  Our student mentor met with us one-on-one as well just to talk to us individually and to address any concerns we may have had.  SFS keeps you so busy and you’re constantly learning about and doing amazing things, so I didn’t even have time to feel apprehensive about being away for that long of a time.  We were really submerged in the program and the community and I was having the time of my life.  It honestly flew by and by the time it was ready to go home I was more apprehensive about leaving to go home than I was to move away from home for studying abroad. How has off-campus study impacted your long-term plans, professionally or academically?  People say studying abroad changes your life and you truly do not understand it until you experience it yourself.  I grew in many different areas: personally, academically, professionally, and interculturally.  This program specifically challenges you in many of these areas, but this results in great growth.  I learned more about myself in that one semester than any other semester thus far.  This came from all the new learning experiences I had in this completely different culture.  Luckily for me, I gained 3 credits while abroad and 2 of them went toward my Biology major.  These classes were very difficult, but SFS is a hands-on program and everything is very applicable, which made it more desirable to learn about.  I learned a better studying technique as well as how to apply the material I was learning to bigger pictures. SFS also sets you up very well professionally.  I had to write my first scientific paper based on my own personal research.  The professors at my program were from all around the world like Ireland and England and they all had pursued Ph.D. s in the areas of study.  They provided us with a Q-and-A night and answered any questions we had about our next steps after college and offered to connect us with people who may be of help for us.  The opportunities and growth I have and will continue to have as an SFS alum are endless. [post_title] => Off-Campus Study Profile: Casandra Brocksmith [post_excerpt] => SFS did a great job connecting us to the community during our time spent there.  [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => off-campus-study-profile-casandra-brocksmith [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:27 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:27 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2014/10/off-campus-study-profile-casandra-brocksmith/ [menu_order] => 833 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 4626 [nid] => 3941 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 4626 ) [18] => Array ( [ID] => 4846 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2015-05-13 11:55:52 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-05-13 11:55:52 [post_content] => The Good Fight podcast (http://thegoodfight.fm) talks to marine biologist and SFS alumna Ayana Johnson (Turks & Caicos Islands Spring '01) about "big ocean problem-solving stuff."
[post_title] => Podcast: Using the Ocean Without Using It Up [post_excerpt] => The Good Fight podcast talks to marine biologist and SFS TCI alumna Ayana Johnson about "big ocean problem-solving stuff." [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => podcast-using-the-ocean-without-using-it-up [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:27 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:27 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2015/05/podcast-using-the-ocean-without-using-it-up/ [menu_order] => 683 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 4846 [nid] => 4124 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 4846 ) [19] => Array ( [ID] => 4902 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2015-09-03 09:00:55 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-09-03 09:00:55 [post_content] => Name: Kayt Colburn Education: Bachelor of Science, Sweet Briar College, 2011; Masters in GIS (Geographic Information Systems), University of Redlands, 2013 SFS Program: Kenya/Tanzania, Spring 2010 Current Position: GIS Developer Why did you choose SFS as a study abroad program? When I was an undergrad, I was thrilled to learn that as a science major I could study abroad without having to take a semester off and still earn credit in biology and environmental studies. I had dreamed about going to Africa my entire life, and the stars aligned as the perfect situation presented itself to me in the form of the Kenya/Tanzania semester. I hesitated for a moment between spending a semester abroad and doing lab research at my home university, but then my advisor turned to me and said: “How do you want to remember your college experience in 20 years, sitting in a lab all semester or going to Africa?” My advice to prospective students is: pack your bags and go! You are about to embark on the most important journey of your life. What is your favorite memory from your SFS program? My banda-mate Kaila and I spent the day with the most adorable mother of four who lived in a traditional house made of cow dung and mud. She cooked us the most phenomenal meal I’ve had in my life of ugali and beans and cabbage, and we helped her harvest corn that was planted by a previous group of SFS students and collect water from a pond for cleaning and cooking. She primarily spoke Maa and we had just begun our Swahili studies. We were able to connect with this woman and her children using what broken Swahili we knew between us, laughter, and hand gestures. There are countless other profound memories I have of my time in East Africa, but living as a Maasai for a day and befriending our host mama will always be with me. Second on that list was shaving my head with two other girls. We decided East Africa was too hot for a full head of hair, and the Kimana Market had a special on haircuts. What did you gain from your SFS experience? It’s hard to put into words everything that I gained from my experience at SFS. There are tangible skills I learned such as research methods for non-invasive behavioral studies, Swahili; and hands-on experience with communities faced with the realities, joys, and dangers of living with mega-fauna in their backyard. There are unforgettable experiences, such as traveling alone across the world for the first time, witnessing one of eight rhinos in Ngorongoro Conservation Area, watching a cheetah feast upon an impala she killed not 20 feet from our camp, hugging the orphans who are growing up next to the mural we painted in their playground, singing and dancing with the Maasai during a coming of age ceremony, and being lulled to sleep by the endless sounds of the Serengeti night. And then there are the things such as a new found appreciation for the convenience and luxury of clean running water and electricity, a heightened awareness of our disconnection from the natural world as modern Americans, and a sense that our roots as human beings run deep within each other and begin in Africa. What do you do for work? I am a GIS Developer for Oceaneering International in Houston, Texas. I do a lot of application development as well as data analysis for emergency response in the energy industry. Right now I am working on a disaster response and prevention application with the intention of preventing major environmental disasters from occurring in sensitive environments. This involves creating applications and databases that can go offline and collect and analyze data collected in the field that will determine where specialized equipment needs to be placed in order to prevent major disaster. Next month I will join several of my colleagues in testing this application in the field. We are installing the equipment on two boats and sailing out to a remote area, without Internet connection and very limited communication with shore base. Seeing this project come to fruition has been quite the feat, and I’m very proud of everyone I’ve worked with. When I return from the maiden voyage, I will have many more stories of success, that I am sure. What advice do you have for other SFS alumni looking to get into your field? I never thought I would be in the position that I’m in, I thought I would work for a lab or continue to do field work. But now I find myself working in an industry I was surprised fit in with my education and experience. My advice to fellow alumni is to not be afraid of the unknown. Remember the first time you stepped off the plane into the new country you would call home for the next few months. You took risks, you made new friends, and you did things you never thought possible. Approach your career that way -- go into the unknown, be willing to be surprised. And call in your favors -- utilize your network to its fullest potential. Sending in blind resumes is great, but never underestimate the power of a recommendation, and don’t be afraid to ask. Are you connected to other SFS alumni? I am professionally connected via the Linked In group, and every time I am in the hometown of one of the “cohorts”, I make my best effort to see them, hug them, and reminisce on the adventure of a lifetime. [post_title] => Alumni Profile: Kayt Colburn [post_excerpt] => My advice to prospective SFS students is: pack your bags and go! You are about to embark on the most important journey of your life. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => alumni-profile-kayt-colburn [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:27 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:27 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2015/09/alumni-profile-kayt-colburn/ [menu_order] => 642 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 4902 [nid] => 4169 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 4902 ) [20] => Array ( [ID] => 4962 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2015-10-15 09:38:45 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-10-15 09:38:45 [post_content] => Name: Theresa Wolfgang Education: BA (Zoology, Environmental Studies) from Ohio Wesleyan University SFS Program: Kenya/Tanzania Fall 2012 Why did you choose SFS as a study abroad program? Ever since I was in second grade I had a dream to go to Africa and see the animals I had read so much about. SFS allowed not only a chance for me to fulfill that dream, but also to study these animals in their natural habitats. A program like SFS that heavily emphasizes getting out of the classroom and venturing into the national parks as well as working with local communities was very appealing to me. Reflecting back on your time in the program, what did you gain from your SFS experience? My experiences with this program were numerous, invaluable, and life-altering. Perhaps my biggest take-away was the amazing attitudes and perspectives of local African people. The rural areas of Kenya and Tanzania in which we studied are inhabited primarily by people who have very little, yet conveyed extreme happiness and gratitude for what they did have. They have a saying, "There is no rush in Africa,” and I have tried to live by that mantra since leaving. The local people I encountered changed my perspective on my own life, and encouraged me to enjoy every single day and appreciate the little things. I learned a lot about myself during my months abroad as well. Having the opportunity to learn with students from all over the United States from local guides, who helped us as we interviewed farmers, has given me the confidence to go out on my own and work with new people. I was able to move across the country away from my family and friends to a new place where I knew no one for the job I have now without worrying about whether or not I would be lonely or unable to make new friends. What is your most profound or lasting memory from your SFS program? My first six weeks of the program were spent in Kenya. We lived down the road from Amboseli National Park, so we frequently went there for safaris for class. The purpose of one of our trips there was to participate in an annual census count of all the large mammals. We were given a quadrant of the park and six of us piled into a truck driven by our Swahili mwalimu (professor). We spent four hours driving around counting over 400 zebras, numerous elephants, and gazelles. As we drove back to the park headquarters, we jammed to music while taking in the beautiful landscape of Africa. While waiting for the other groups to return, we watched a Chelsea soccer game in a room full of every enthused, traditionally dressed Massai warriors. This was an amazing experience because we weren't just taking notes for class—we were actively helping the park and collecting real scientific data that could be used. And the dance party/safari on the ride back was pretty unforgettable. My second six weeks was spent in Tanzania. We were lucky enough to spend a week camping in tents on the plains of the Serengeti. Nothing separated us from the wildlife; we just had our trustee Askaris (night guards). The most vivid memory I have is from a morning safari during which we had to stop and sit in the middle of a road for thirty minutes because we were completely surround by hundreds of White-bearded Wildebeest. We were fortunate enough to be there during the great migration. It was an unbelievable experience to see that many animals in one of the most magical places on earth. What advice would you give to a prospective SFS student? GO! You will never have a chance to get so much experience with amazing people in such amazing places. When you do go, take advantage of every opportunity that presents itself while you are abroad—do not have any regrets that you missed out. Don't be afraid to get yourself out there and make friends with the locals, they will be the most interesting and friendliest people you will ever meet! What do you do for work? I am a primate keeper, which basically means I take care of about 5 different species of lesser apes, guenon, and lemurs. Every morning I feed the animals and clean their enclosures, train the animals for veterinary procedures, work on maintenance of exhibits, and educate the public as they hand feed our ring-tailed lemurs craisins on Lemur Island! Did your SFS experience contribute to where you ended up? My experience confirmed how much I loved animals and how much I wanted to work with them and learn as much as I could. Being a zookeeper has allowed me to spend everyday surrounded by species that remind me of my SFS trip. What advice do you have for other SFS alumni looking to get into your field? It is all about the experience in the zoo world. There are husbandry internships, and there are also internships that focus on training and research. The more versatile you are the better it looks to an employer. [post_title] => Alumni Profile: Theresa Wolfgang [post_excerpt] => Ever since I was in second grade I had a dream to go to Africa and see the animals I had read so much about. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => alumni-profile-theresa-wolfgang [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:27 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:27 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2015/10/alumni-profile-theresa-wolfgang/ [menu_order] => 601 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 4962 [nid] => 4220 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 4962 ) [21] => Array ( [ID] => 5000 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2015-11-17 10:59:56 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-11-17 10:59:56 [post_content] => Name: Aubrey Ellertson Education: BA, Biology, Franklin and Marshall College SFS Program: TCI Spring '10 Current Position: NOAA Northeast Fisheries Observer Program; Data Editor Since I completed my SFS program in 2010, I have been back to visit South Caicos several times. My most recent trip was February 2015, where I presented about being a Northeast Fisheries Observer for NOAA, and how to pursue a career in fisheries. When I graduated from college, I was hired as an at-sea monitor and northeast fisheries observer. I was one of about 200 observers in NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Observer Program, and one of nearly 1,000 observers nationwide. My job was to keep a record of everything that was brought on board the fishing boat, and everything that left it. In addition, I would document bycatch if there were any, location of catch, the weather, and ocean conditions. The data I collected helped scientists monitor the movement of fish in response to changing environmental conditions. Essentially I was trying to paint as complete a picture as possible, so that scientists could tell how each fish population was doing. I worked mainly on trawlers and gillnetters, and the trips I covered lasted anywhere from one day to two weeks. Out in the field my goal was to promote strong scientific backing, high data quality standards, objectiveness in collecting information, respect for the fishing community, and a high regard for all marine resources. As an observer I learned to work together, exercising open communication and cooperation to successfully achieve my objective. The observer/captain relationship can be a delicate one, since taking an observer is a mandatory requirement and fishing permit obligation. As a result, I had to adapt to every boat I went on, and ensure that I was able to do my job successfully without interfering with fishing operations. Working as an observer taught me to be an effective communicator and listener. Presently I am working as a Data Editor, working to maintain records on 11 of my individual fisheries observers and to track their performance. I review their raw electronic data, and paper logs for completeness and accuracy. I then contact each of my fisheries observers to verify inconsistencies, to try and solve any data quality issues that might arise, and to verify and check their species identification photos they submit. I also check in age samples (otoliths (ear bones), scales, and monkfish vertebrae). In addition to my every day responsibilities, I am very involved in the outreach department within the Northeast Fisheries Observer Program. I travel often for our kiosk outreach events, as well as visit different fishing ports to do dock work and educate fishermen about our program, or about new protocols that are coming into place. Without a doubt, I would not be where I am today if it was not for SFS and my experiences in Turks and Caicos. While on South Caicos, my research was on establishing a baseline information guide for fisheries management on the finfish dock landings, and in particular if Nassau grouper were being speared below the age of sexual maturity. This experience was particularly important to my growth and development because it was my first opportunity to interact with fishermen in what I would consider a male-dominated society. I gained a lot of field experience, but also how to communicate effectively. I have enormous ties to the fishing community on South Caicos, and I continually feel a very strong connection to the individuals that made their livelihoods from the sea. Those experiences contributed to my current involvement in New England fisheries, and to my work as a fisheries observer out on commercial fishing boats. When I visited the Center in February 2015, I had the opportunity to go gillnetting for lemon sharks, and it was truly a remarkable experience I will never forget! I was also able to snorkel the new lobster casitas (houses), and check for juvenile lobsters. I was glad to see that community engagement is as important as ever, and that the time students spend with community members has actually increased. Lastly, I came home with a potcake this trip! Potcakes are the name given to dogs of the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Islands. It came about because the locals fed the caked remains of the cooking pot to the dogs. They are truly a remarkable breed both smart, loyal and loving pets. I would never have had Savannah today if not for the help of SFS staff at the Center, and Potcake Place in Providenciales. [post_title] => Alumni Profile: Aubrey Ellertson [post_excerpt] => Without a doubt, I would not be where I am today if it was not for SFS and my experiences in Turks and Caicos. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => alumni-profile-aubrey-ellertson [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:27 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:27 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2015/11/alumni-profile-aubrey-ellertson/ [menu_order] => 568 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 5000 [nid] => 4249 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 5000 ) [22] => Array ( [ID] => 5061 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2016-01-22 08:23:11 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-01-22 08:23:11 [post_content] => More than 16,500 students have participated in our programs, and our alumni frequently tell us that SFS ignited passion and direction for their careers. SFS alumni are environmental leaders in the worlds of academia, activism, business, and government. We asked several SFS alumni: "What advice do you have for students who are looking to get into your field?" Here is their insight. Have advice of your own? Share in the comments below!

David Bennett (SFS Mexico Summer '97), Sustainability and Innovation Consultant

Pursue work that you truly love doing. There’s so much good work that needs be done in the world and there are endless industries that you can be a part of in order to effect the change that you want to see in the world. Someone once asked me, "What is it that you can’t NOT do?" I think that asking yourself that question is one good way of figuring out your passions because that question forces you to examine the things in life that you feel compelled to accomplish in life. Once you know what those pursuits are and can begin working towards them, I think you’ll find a great sense of accomplishment personally and professionally.

Emma Impink (SFS Kenya Spring '09), Program Support @ One Acre Fund

If you are an alum interested in getting into grassroots sustainable development, I say, try something that might not sound exactly like what you’re looking for… you never know how you can integrate your knowledge to address a new challenge!

Jeffery Flocken (SFS Kenya Summer '90), Policy Officer @ International Fund for Animal Welfare

Without a doubt, I got where I am today because I am passionate and committed to wildlife conservation. I always knew what I wanted to do, and I pursued it with vigor, taking advantage of every opportunity to learn more about the field and meet people involved in it. For anyone interested in pursuing a career path like mine, I advise you to network aggressively and don’t be afraid to take chances. And most importantly, take advantage of every opportunity to get out into the field and see the animals you are working to protect. That is what keeps you motivated!

Theresa Wolfgang (SFS Kenya/Tanzania Fall '12), Primate Keeper @ Tanganyika Wildlife Park

It is all about the experience in the zoo world. There are husbandry internships, and there are also internships that focus on training and research. The more versatile you are, the better it looks to an employer.

Kayt Colburn (SFS Kenya/Tanzania Spring '10), GIS Developer @ Oceaneering International

I never thought I would be in the position that I’m in, I thought I would work for a lab or continue to do field work. But now I find myself working in an industry I was surprised fit in with my education and experience. My advice is to not be afraid of the unknown. Remember the first time you stepped off the plane into the new country you would call home for the next few months. You took risks, you made new friends, and you did things you never thought possible. Approach your career that way—go into the unknown, be willing to be surprised. And call in your favors—utilize your network to its fullest potential. Sending in blind resumes is great, but never underestimate the power of a recommendation, and don’t be afraid to ask.

Kate Mansfield (SFS Turks & Caicos Islands Spring '91), Marine Scientist @ University of Central Florida

Build up strong field (or laboratory) skills—this is what helps make you marketable to field-based programs. Gain "life experience," too. When considering taking on graduate students, I look for those who have more practical "outside of the classroom" experience.

Rob Holmes (SFS Kenya Fall '90), Founder @ GLP Films

Work hard, follow your passion, and do whatever it takes to get there. And you’ve got to be patient. I got excellent advice along the way, like the importance of networking, being curious, and asking questions. Before I went to grad school, I sat down with a few friends of my father who were in business. The common advice was to go into sales to teach yourself how to communicate, articulate, persuade, and get out of difficult situations. Communication skills are so important.

Tania Taranovski (SFS Australia Spring '92), Sustainable Seafood Programs Manager @ New England Aquarium

Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and take chances. It’s tempting upon graduation to feel like you must have a job that will start paying the bills right away, or that you must start the right graduate school immediately to get ahead. No time in the next 20 years will it be easier to just explore and take chances. And live simply, like you did during your SFS experience. It will remind you of what is really important. → Read SFS Alumni Profiles → Explore SFS Programs [post_title] => Environmental Professionals Share Career Advice [post_excerpt] => SFS alumni working in the environmental field answer the question: "What advice do you have for students who are looking to get into your field?" [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => environmental-professionals-share-career-advice [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:28 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:28 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2016/01/environmental-professionals-share-career-advice/ [menu_order] => 532 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 5061 [nid] => 4283 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 5061 ) [23] => Array ( [ID] => 5062 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2016-01-26 08:06:12 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-01-26 08:06:12 [post_content] => Name: Ben Goldfarb Education: Amherst College, BA English/Environmental Studies; Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Masters in Environmental Management SFS Program: Australia Fall 2007 Current Position: Freelance Journalist Why did you choose SFS as a study abroad program? Unlike most SFS students, I completely lacked scientific experience — let alone field experience — when I applied in 2007. I was an English major, and my only exposure to ecology was the occasional book by E.O. Wilson or David Quammen. Still, I loved the outdoors and particularly wildlife, and I longed to surround myself in nature (maybe I’d read too much Thoreau). SFS Australia was the most remote study-abroad program I could find. I’m proof that, with some intellectual curiosity and hard work, you can succeed at SFS no matter your academic background. Reflecting back on your time in the program, what did you gain from your SFS experience? First, I gained familiarity with all kinds of vital scientific concepts: the ecological perils of habitat fragmentation and isolation; the value of wildlife corridors; the process of forest succession, and so on. I also became part of a wonderful like-minded community, and made friendships that I still value today. Perhaps most importantly, however, I came to understand the fundamentals of research, and developed a profound appreciation for the mental and sometimes physical rigor that goes into conducting a field study or experiment. I think laypeople — and I was certainly a layperson before SFS — think of science as something that happens in hygienic labs flooded with fluorescent light, conducted by people wearing white coats and latex gloves. I discovered that many scientists are more comfortable decked out in rain pants, covered in mud, and wielding a wrench. Setting up a study requires all kinds of problem-solving skills, many of them mechanical — how do you attach this radio-tag? measure this transect? fix the coffeemaker at 3 am? — and the best scientists have a good bit of engineer in them. As someone who writes about scientists every day, I’ve benefited from being able to talk intelligently and empathetically about just how dang hard fieldwork can be. What is your most profound or lasting memory from your SFS program? For my final project, I took part in a study that examined how bats use rainforest habitat. The fundamental challenge, of course, is that bats are nocturnal; lacking a budget for radio-tags, how the heck do you follow a bat through a pitch-black jungle at 2 am? Jess Wallace, our professor, devised an ingenious solution: Using a biodegradable adherent, we stuck tiny green glowsticks to the backs of captive bats, then turned them loose. Picture a half-dozen 20-year-olds charging through dense rainforest, their eyes fixed on a tiny green speck bobbing in utter blackness, their headlamp beams swinging wildly in pursuit, vaulting over red-bellied black snakes and dodging stinging trees, shouting out “canopy!” or “understory!” to another student striving desperately to simultaneously record data and keep up, everyone drenched in mud and pin-cushioned with thorns. It was beautiful, delirious mayhem. I’d never had so much fun. What do you do for work? I’m a freelance journalist who covers science and the environment, with a focus on wildlife conservation and fisheries management. I’ve written for a variety of publications, including Scientific American, Orion Magazine, High Country News, The Guardian, Earth Island Journal, and many others. In the last couple years I’ve covered enough species to fill a zoo — grizzly bears, salmon, wolverines, salamanders, bison, beavers, sea turtles, and lamprey, to name a few. It’s a blast. What does that actually entail on a daily basis? I spend my days trolling through the scientific literature, combing the tsunami of press releases that crash in my inbox, and perusing local newspapers in search of important stories the national press is missing. Primarily I’m looking for new studies or topics that might pique the interest of my editors and readers. I don’t do a lot of straight “gee-whiz” science reporting; much as I revere the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake, I prefer covering research with practical applications — for instance, how might this new technique for extracting DNA from scat help us protect mountain lions? I often have the opportunity to accompany scientists or government officials into the field; in the past year, my reporting has taken me to Alaska, Montana, Olympic National Park, Lake Tahoe, the Grand Canyon, and the Bahamas. You can learn a lot over the phone; still, nothing beats a high-quality field experience. Photo by Geoff Giller. Did your SFS experience contribute to where you ended up? Absolutely! In college, I knew I wanted to write; like many wandering English majors, however, I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to write about. SFS inspired my passion for biodiversity conservation and helped me channel my journalistic ambitions in a particular direction. Cheesy though it sounds, my path was settled a couple weeks into my SFS experience, the moment I first held a bat — its body warm, soft, trembling, and impossibly fragile in my hands. In that instant, I understood the true meaning of conservation — that animals are beings of flesh and blood, not just abstract numbers on a graph or providers of vague “ecosystems services” — and I knew that in some capacity I would devote my life to wildlife. In 2013, I received a grant from the Solutions Journalism Network to write a series of stories about the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative, or Y2Y, a 2,000-mile-long wildlife corridor that link up parks and protected areas throughout the Northern Rockies. The concept that underpins Y2Y — that isolated parks can’t meet the ecological needs of many species, and that corridors between habitat patches can help creatures migrate, mate, find food, and connect with other sub-populations — was one that I learned about during my time at SFS. I vividly recall touring the properties of dairy ranchers and seeing these thin strips of green, often following riparian areas, that ran from one forest patch to another. The concept captured my imagination, and upon my return to college I set about researching other wildlife corridors, including Y2Y. Six years later, that long-term fascination became a grant and a two-month reporting trip through the Northern Rockies. Subsequently, I published stories about habitat connectivity in Orion Magazine, Earth Island Journal, Modern Farmer, Medium, Conservation Magazine, and other outlets. Reflecting upon those stories, I’m struck by how SFS shaped and informed them. Yes, I’m writing about grizzly bears on the prairies of Alberta and wolverines in the mountains of Montana, but I’m deploying fundamental conservation principles that I first encountered applied to cassowaries and tree kangaroos in Australian rainforest. Are you professionally connected to other SFS folk? Yes! Back in 2014, I was writing a story about salmon habitat restoration in the Columbia River Basin, and a couple of biologists took me out to see some projects in the Deschutes River. We went to inspect a fish weir manned by a few technicians, one of whom looked vaguely familiar from afar. Which she lifted her head, I realized that she was a fellow SFSer who’d collaborated on the bat project in Australia. To the confusion of the other biologists, we embraced on the riverbank, marveling at the serendipity of it all. Over dinner she offered some invaluable wisdom that helped inform the story. Hopefully those kinds of propitious coincidences will become more common as my SFS friends depart graduate school and advance through the ranks of academia and conservation. What advice do you have for other SFS alumni looking to get into your field? For starters, read constantly — not just scientific studies, but ecology’s representation in popular literature. Caroline Fraser’s Rewilding the World, David Quammen’s Song of the Dodo, and Jon Mooallem’s Wild Ones are indispensable additions to any conservation writer’s book shelf. It’s true that the current media landscape is a challenging one — rates are low, newspapers are dying, and myriad writers are competing for the same gigs. At the same time, the web has allowed an incredible diversity of new publications to flourish, all of which are hungry for new writers. (For details on how to break into those magazines and journals, check out a blog post I wrote in 2015 for Canadian Science Publishing.) If you’re a scientist yourself, consider starting out by writing op-eds and dispatches about your own research, and the work of your friends, perhaps in a campus publication; then parlay those writing samples, or “clips” — your currency as a writer — into an internship or additional freelancing opportunities. It’s not the easiest career path in the world, but it’s among the most rewarding — and heck, the academic job market is pretty tough too! Science writing is certainly in flux, but in some ways there’s never been a more exciting time to break in. Finally, if you’re a recent alumni seeking writing advice, or an older one interested in gaining some thoughtful, conscientious media coverage for your research, or if you just want to chat about media and conservation you can reach me at ben.a.goldfarb@gmail.com, or on Twitter at @ben_a_goldfarb. Looking forward to hearing from you! [post_title] => Alumni Profile: Ben Goldfarb [post_excerpt] => SFS inspired my passion for biodiversity conservation and helped me channel my journalistic ambitions in a particular direction. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => alumni-profile-ben-goldfarb [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:28 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:28 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2016/01/alumni-profile-ben-goldfarb/ [menu_order] => 531 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 5062 [nid] => 4284 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 5062 ) [24] => Array ( [ID] => 5214 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2016-08-04 08:57:39 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-08-04 08:57:39 [post_content] => Name: Claudia Polsky Education: B.A. Harvard University; M. Appl. Sc. Lincoln University, New Zealand; J.D. UC Berkeley Law SFS Program: Acid Rain & Limnology, Adirondacks (NY State), Summer 1983; Volcanic Geology, Mt. Vesuvius (Italy), Summer 1984 Current Position: Director, Environmental Law Clinic at UC Berkeley School of Law Why did you choose SFS as a study abroad program? I was drawn to the summer programs that SFS offered because I wanted to try environmental field science. I had always loved science, and loved the outdoors, but had never had the opportunity to combine the two by studying and doing empirical scientific work in the real world rather than a school lab. Reflecting back on your time in the program, what did you gain from your SFS experience? I gained so much from my SFS programs that it’s hard to know where to begin. I not only learned an enormous amount of science, but I found that I really retained it, because it was so grounded in direct, multi-sensory experiences: when I think about lake acidification, I remember trying to do accurate titrations with leaves falling into our sample beakers, and fighting to get an accurate water visibility reading with a secchi disc from a wind-tossed inflatable boat. When I think about dodecahedral crystal forms in volcanic rocks at Mount Vesuvius, I remember how those hot black volcanic rocks also helped us melt fresh mozzarella and tomatoes for our incredible rustic lunches atop the volcano. I also learned a huge amount from my fellow students. In particular, during the SFS program I did right after high school, I became close friends with two older female geology majors, whose influence steered me to study geology in college. What is your most profound or lasting memory from your SFS program? From my program studying acid rain in the Adirondack Mountains of New York, I remember a lesson on aquatic chemistry that we had while dangling our feet in a clear mountain stream. Talking about pH and various rocks’ differential buffering capacity with our toes in the relevant ecosystem really made an impression on me, and I think also helped me grasp some new chemistry concepts. From my program studying the explosive patterns of Mount Vesuvius to help predict future eruptions, I remember an extraordinary night our crew spent atop the active volcano Stromboli, recording its eruptive frequency, but mostly just being awed by the beauty and miracle of watching fiery eruptions up close against a pitch-black sky. I can still hear the sizzle of the lava as it slid downslope to its quenching in the Mediterranean. What advice would you give to a prospective SFS student? Throw yourself into everything – the physicality of the projects (some of ours were quite strenuous), the difficulty of the journal articles you’ll read, the diversity of your team mates, the language of the country you visit. There are few things you will do in life that will give you the opportunity to learn and stretch across so many dimensions at once. Tell us more about your career in environmental law. What accomplishments are you most proud of? I’ve spent my whole career as an environmental professional, with the past 20 years of it as an environmental lawyer working for nonprofits and government agencies. Over the past decade I’ve been deeply involved in helping California develop a regulatory system for addressing toxic chemicals in consumer products. My involvement has taken many forms, from living room strategy sessions with environmental activists to a stint directing a Pollution Prevention and Green Chemistry program at our state toxics agency. The part I most enjoyed, however, was working with a team of scientists, lawyers, and policymakers over a couple-year period to draft a complex and comprehensive set of product regulations and try to make them as defensible as possible in light of anticipated industry attack. I felt like we were charting new and important ground, doing something that was both intellectually and practically challenging, and had real-world impact. This spring, Congress finally overhauled the very outdated Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976; this was an implicit recognition that California and other states had gotten way ahead of our national government in addressing toxics exposures. During the same period that I was working on macro-level toxics issues, I was pursuing a variety of legal angles to address a very specific exposure threat: the emission of semi-volatile chemical flame retardant chemicals from upholstered furniture, which are known carcinogens and also increasingly demonstrated to be neurotoxins, and turn out to be one of the big indoor air quality threats in our homes. I was ultimately able to both advise the California agency that promulgates fire retardancy standards as it reworked its regulations to obviate the need for manufacturers to include toxic flame retardants in household furniture, and to represent that agency in litigation to defend its new regulations successfully in the face of challenge from the flame retardant industry. In late 2015, I was able to buy a couch for my new office that was among the first couches sold since the mid-1970s in my state that did not contain toxic flame retardants. I feel victorious every time I sit on it! And grateful for the opportunity to work on issues that affect human health and the environment very directly. I now direct the Environmental Law Clinic at UC Berkeley School of Law, where I’m helping to train a next generation of environmental public interest and public-sector lawyers. Clinical law teaching involves a combination of academic instruction and hands-on legal projects for real clients. In that way, it’s very much like SFS – experiential rather than abstract learning. In a given day, I might teach a seminar on persuasive legal writing, meet with student teams working on projects related to water pollution or global warming, and then work on a conference presentation related to toxic chemical exposures, which is one of my main areas of expertise. Did your SFS experience contribute to where you ended up? Very directly. SFS definitely deepened my environmental issue knowledge, interest, and career commitment. But as important, it made clear to me that although I’m fascinated by science, I don’t actually enjoy empirical scientific work – when I read scientific journal articles, I am always interested in the abstract and the conclusions, but really glaze over reading about methods. Figuring out through SFS that I wanted to have an environmental career that involved working on science-intensive issues and working with scientific experts, but not do the science myself, was very helpful in steering me towards a career in environmental law and policy. Are you still connected to other SFS folk? Yes, I’ve maintained close friendships with two tent-mates from my SFS summers: we are still in touch after 30 years, and have enriched each others’ lives in many ways. What advice do you have for other SFS alumni looking to get into your field? Environmental work is incredibly varied, and all of its variants are necessary to confront the daunting planetry challenges before us. Along the route to becoming an environmental lawyer, I seriously considered environmental science and environmental journalism, and also spent several years doing land conservation work for The Nature Conservancy. It may take some experimentation to figure out where the tasks you like to do, the skills you have, and the type of impact you’d like to make all converge; programs like SFS are fantastic for letting you explore a number of permutations and find a good fit. → Meet More SFS Alumni [post_title] => Alumni Profile: Claudia Polsky [post_excerpt] => Alumna Claudia Polsky (New York Summer '83; Italy Summer '84) has spent the last 20 years of her career working as an environmental lawyer for nonprofits and government agencies. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => alumni-profile-claudia-polsky [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:28 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:28 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2016/08/alumni-profile-claudia-polsky/ [menu_order] => 416 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 5214 [nid] => 4407 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 5214 ) [25] => Array ( [ID] => 5279 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2016-10-26 08:38:15 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-10-26 08:38:15 [post_content] => Name: Bronwyn Llewellyn Education: B.A. Biology, Mount Holyoke College; Master of Environmental Management, Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University SFS Program: SFS Kenya Spring ‘03 Current Position: Foreign Service Officer with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Why did you choose SFS as a study abroad program? I wasn’t planning on studying abroad at all. I’d grown up overseas so didn’t feel I really needed the “international experience” and I was on a pre-vet track, which meant there were very few programs that offered the transferable science credits I would need to meet all the requirements. However, on the night of the study abroad fair on campus, I was hosting a prospective student and I offered to take her on a tour. When we reached the campus center, we popped into the fair for a few minutes. I will never forget turning the corner and seeing the big display with the photo of the giraffes silhouetted against the setting sun. I chatted with the SFS rep, and looked through the brochure and was immediately drawn to the Kenya program. Not only did it offer transferable science credits so I could still stay on the pre-vet track, the course description was exactly what I wanted to do with my life! Reflecting back on your time in the program, what did you gain from your SFS experience? SO much!!! One of the most critical things I gained was an understanding of all the different career paths open to me. I had always been passionate about conservation, but only knew two ways I could pursue it – through research (PhD route) or, if I wanted to be hands on with wildlife, as a veterinarian (although I knew the chances of actually getting to work with wildlife were minuscule). Through the program I had the chance to meet so many people working on conservation from so many different walks of life! Sure there were vets and researchers, but there were also experts working for the big donors, such as the US government or World Bank, there were folks working for International NGOs, the UN, and local groups, and even diplomats engaged in conservation work. I also learned there were so many different ways to work on conservation, whether that be through fund-raising, community engagement, policy interaction, law enforcement, or park management. When I returned to my college I started to research graduate programs that would get me where I wanted to be, and discovered there were actually a lot! What is your most profound or lasting memory from your SFS program? There are many striking memories, but one of the most important was of sitting up on top of a huge outcropping of rocks listening to a lecture from one of our professors. He used the whole landscape behind him as his prop – no need for maps or PowerPoint when you could just point to the feature you are talking about! That perspective helped me see how everything is interconnected, and helped lead me into my later focus on Conservation Ecology – a discipline where you try to understand the bigger picture and how everything fits together with an eye to how best to conserve your target species or ecosystem. What advice would you give to a prospective SFS student? GO FOR IT!! The program will challenge you and shape you, and you will never be the same again… but you will never look back! What do you do for work? I am a Foreign Service Officer with the United States Agency for International Development. USAID is the lead U.S. Government agency that works to end extreme global poverty and enable resilient, democratic societies to realize their potential. USAID carries out U.S. foreign policy by promoting broad-scale human progress at the same time it expands stable, free societies, creates markets and trade partners for the United States, and fosters good will abroad. USAID works in many sectors, including health, agriculture, democracy and governance, education, and environment. USAID’s environment programming covers a wide swath of issues from environmental compliance (making sure our other projects do not have negative environmental or social impacts), to urban planning, to water management, to energy production, to forestry, to climate change mitigation and adaptation, to biodiversity conservation. As a USAID Environment Officer, I am the technical lead responsible for designing and managing programming that addresses these issues. I just left Nepal, where I was the Environment Team Leader, and am currently the Natural Resource Management and Water Team Leader for USAID/Tanzania. I lead a staff of four other technical experts in climate change, water sanitation and hygiene, community conservation, and wildlife trafficking to manage a series of activities that aim to help Tanzania better manage their natural resources, including wildlife, forests, and water to the greater benefit of the Tanzania people and the preservation of those resources for future generations. What does that actually entail on a daily basis? Generally speaking, a lot of emailing, meetings, and report writing! As a steward of taxpayer dollars I spend a lot of my time ensuring that our money is being used efficiently and effectively, and reporting back to congress what is happening. Of course, to do that well, I do have to get out to the field regularly to see first-hand what is happening on the ground! All the tedious meetings and hours on the computer become worth it when you are riding on the back of an elephant to see a grassland restoration project in Nepal and almost literally stumble over a tiger. Or you get to participate in an exercise to put satellite collars on Rhinos.Or you talk to a group of women in a marginalized community who are now making five times their previous annual salary through an activity that is also helping restore hundreds of hectares of forest. I also get to fund cutting-edge research, such as using DNA to track tigers, and meet with top scientists and explorers to learn what they are doing and see how we can include it in our programming. Some people would prefer to be the researcher, or the person on the ground implementing the project, but I love having my bird’s eye view of the issues (going back to my memory of the lecture at SFS!). I have the opportunity to see the whole system, and work with local policy makers, implementers, and other donors, like other Embassies or the UN, to decide the strategic direction for conservation in the country, and potentially identify and fill important gaps. Designing the next generation of projects is probably my favorite part of the job. Describe an interesting project you’ve worked on in your career. In Nepal, USAID’s biggest project is called “Hariyo Ban”, which means “Green Forest” in Nepali. It covers an enormous swath of the country, including two landscapes: the Terai – the flat plains at the foot of the Himalayas where the rhinos and tigers live, and the Kali Gandaki River basin – which connects the high Himalayas to the Terai. Hariyo Ban has a budget of nearly $50 million USD ($40 million from USAID and $10 million in matching funds) over 5 years. Climate change is an enormous problem in Nepal, where the effects are visible and tangible. Within the Kali Gandaki basin you have the dual problems of glaciers disappearing, leaving mountain communities without access to water, and increased flooding from changing Monsoon patterns in the lowlands. Compounding all this is steadily rising temperatures, driving species up stream in search of cooler climates. Unfortunately the Kali Gandaki has not been historically managed to help facilitate connectivity between protected areas, and there are lots of gaps in the forest. Also, the poorest of the poor – landless marginalized groups – are almost entirely reliant on the forest for survival, and their few other livelihoods options are extremely vulnerable to climate change. Enter Hariyo Ban. One of the virtues of having a large project is that you can take a comprehensive look at a landscape, even one as vast as the Kali Gandaki Basin. They identified areas where there were bottlenecks to biodiversity connectivity as well as where the most vulnerable people lived. Not surprisingly most of these are the same areas! There they work with Nepali Government Officials, community forest user groups, local decision makers, and the poor themselves to find ways to regrow forest, pull people out of poverty, and improve local community access and management of forest resources. It sounds like a tall order, but they have been extremely successful! Did your SFS experience contribute to where you ended up? Absolutely! I didn’t have a clear understanding of what my options were for working in international conservation before Kenya. My time at SFS really opened my eyes to what I could do, and how, and led me to pursue my Masters of Environmental Management. It also more directly led to me getting my first job with World Wildlife Fund – my on-the-ground experience in East Africa was considered a major plus to the hiring committee. After my first Washington DC based WWF contract ended I got another offer to work on the Coastal East Africa initiative, a project that covered Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique. Again, the fact that I had lived in Kenya previously was a huge help in convincing my bosses that I was up for the job. The WWF experiences paved the way for me to join USAID, so you could say I first stepped foot on my path to being a diplomat when I stepped off that plane in Kenya! Are you professionally connected to other SFS folk? Yes! At my first job at WWF, there were a number of people who had attended different SFS sessions, and I’ve also run into a few within USAID. I’m also connected to all of my SFS classmates, and they are all doing amazing things – many directly linked to their time in Kenya. What advice do you have for other SFS alumni looking to get into your field? What do you wish someone told you? I took a fairly straight path from SFS to where I am now. I didn’t take a break between undergrad and grad school, and my career since grad school has steadily built until here. If I could do it again, I probably wouldn’t change anything in terms of what I studied, but I might have taken a bit more time. Peace Corps would have been a fantastic option post undergrad to get more international experience, and to take a bit of a mental break from academia. My other piece of advice is that the Masters of Environmental Management degree that I got at Duke (and there are many similar programs around the country) is really perfect for this kind of work. While you study a lot of hard science as part of the degree, the purpose is not to pursue the science yourself, but to be able to understand it and interpret it for decision and policy makers. You also, in turn, learn how to understand policy and interpret it for practitioners. This skill is extremely valuable whether you work for an NGO, a government organization, or a company, either in the US or overseas. Note: The contents of this blog are the responsibility of Bronwyn Llewellyn and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government. [post_title] => Alumni Profile: Bronwyn Llewellyn, USAID [post_excerpt] => Bronwyn Llewellyn, SFS Kenya Spring '03, describes how her SFS experience has influenced her life and career so far. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => alumni-profile-bronwyn-llewellyn-usaid [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:28 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:28 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2016/10/alumni-profile-bronwyn-llewellyn-usaid/ [menu_order] => 369 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 5279 [nid] => 4457 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 5279 ) [26] => Array ( [ID] => 5375 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2017-03-17 10:07:11 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-03-17 10:07:11 [post_content] => Name: Anna Menke Education: Princeton University, BA in Anthropology, minor in Environmental Studies SFS Program: Costa Rica Summer 2014 Current Position: Fellow, Environmental Defense Fund Why did you choose SFS as a study abroad program? I chose the SFS Costa Rica program because it was a perfect marriage of my interests in international development, environmental sustainability, and Latin American culture. As a varsity athlete at Princeton I was not able to study abroad during the school year, but it was something I really wanted to do. SFS was a perfect opportunity to use my summer to complement my studies while also exploring a new place. Reflecting back on your time in the program, what did you gain from your SFS experience?? I gained tangible field research skills that helped me build my resume for the internship I would apply to the following summer. I also gained a deep passion for Latin American culture and an affirmed sense that sustainability and environmental policy were areas I wanted to continue to focus on, both academically and in my work, going forward. The other intangible thing I gained was some really close friendships. I still keep in good touch with one friend from SFS and intermittently catch up with other friends from the program. The program broadened my network outside of Princeton, which I am very thankful for. What is your most profound or lasting memory from your SFS program? Our class spent three days in the small rural town of El Sur, Costa Rica. During the time, we conducted research for our final independent papers. I had elected to research a social science question about internal human migration and urbanization due to environmental changes. I conducted interviews and administered surveys. I have some very distinct memories of the local people I talked to and the profound curiosity I had for learning about other people’s perception of and interaction with their environment. I didn’t realize it at the time, but this was the beginning of me figuring out why the environment was uniquely interesting to me. I cared about human interactions with the environment. What advice would you give to a prospective SFS student? Go! My experience at SFS gave me so much confidence, independence and perspective on the world outside my small college bubble. That being said, going for an SFS program isn’t enough. Push yourself beyond the bounds of your comfort zone while you are there, if you just hang out with other students in the program you are missing an opportunity. Get to know people who live and work in the area. Work hard - don’t just aim to get by. Appreciate the opportunity to be somewhere else, it is one not everyone has. What do you do for work? I work for the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) on the EDF+Business team. My boss and I are working to engage leading US corporations in federal climate and energy policy issues. Our aim is to motivate US companies to advocate for climate and energy policy. Our theory of change is predicated on the belief that in order to overcome the argument that climate policies will hurt the economy, we need to get the biggest drivers of our economy to verbalize their support for these policies, framing climate policy as a solution in which both the economy and the environment can thrive. Currently, my boss and I work with a broad range of fortune 500 companies engaging them in various conversations and advocacy efforts. A lot my work day to day involves researching these corporations and their past history with and positioning on climate and clean energy policies. This includes understanding their lobbying giving to various lawmakers and PACs, their presence in various trade associations and their commitments to sustainability targets such as greenhouse gas reductions. When I am not doing this due-diligence research, I am in meetings or on calls with these companies and with other NGOs and stakeholders discussing ways to work together to better advocate for climate and clean energy, through targeted outreach to Congress or strategic op-eds and thought leadership pieces. Did your SFS experience contribute to where you ended up? SFS definitely affirmed my passion for environmental sustainability and inspired me to pursue a career in the environmental world. What advice do you have for other SFS alumni looking to get into your field? Experience matters! If you care about something get out there and get experience however you can by volunteering, an internship or shadowing someone. You are going to have to work hard to find the right job for you in the environmental world, there is no linear path. Don’t be afraid to ask people about what they’re doing and how they got into it. This can give you a great sense of the types of jobs that are actually out there. → Sustainable Development Studies in Costa Rica [post_title] => Alumni Profile: Anna Menke [post_excerpt] => SFS definitely affirmed my passion for environmental sustainability and inspired me to pursue a career in the environmental world. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => alumni-profile-anna-menke [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:28 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:28 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2017/03/alumni-profile-anna-menke/ [menu_order] => 291 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 5375 [nid] => 4540 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 5375 ) [27] => Array ( [ID] => 5414 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2017-04-19 09:34:55 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-04-19 09:34:55 [post_content] => Name: Courtenay Cabot Venton Education: BA, Economics, Northwestern University; MSc, Environmental Policy and Management, Oxford
SFS Program: Mexico Fall 1994 Current Profession: Environmental Economist Why did you choose SFS as a study abroad program? I have always been an environmentalist at heart. When I was in high school, I ran the environmental club, and I quickly realized that one of the best ways to get people to protect the environment – particularly in the private sector – was to articulate the economic benefits of doing so. So in college I majored in economics. While Northwestern had an excellent economics department, I really wanted to do environmental economics and the head of my program let me design an environmental focus. One part of that was studying in Baja, Mexico with SFS. Reflecting back on your time in the program, what did you gain from your SFS experience? I gained so much from my experience, and I still wish that I could go back in time. There is nothing better than experiential learning, and my program was a perfect mix of classroom studies and extensive field work. There is something truly unique as well about living and working with your peers, 24 hours a day. It creates incredible bonding moments, but it also really teaches you to work it out when you have a difficulty with someone, and to really get to know people who come from all different backgrounds, interests, etc. What is your most profound or lasting memory from your SFS program? Swimming with a whale shark and rescuing a humpback with a net covering its head! What do you do for work? I am an environmental economist. After college, I worked for a U.S. based consultancy focused on U.S. environmental policy. After I did my masters, I wanted to shift to more international development work, and I started working in developing countries. You can’t work on environmental issues in developing countries without working on poverty reduction. Most of my work focuses on helping donors and aid agencies (UN, USAID, etc) to figure out what is working, and what is not, when it comes to poverty reduction. A lot of my work has focused on evaluating different types of interventions –water, health, livelihoods, etc – to determine those that are having the biggest impact for every dollar spent on poverty reduction. More recently, my work has focused heavily on humanitarian aid, specifically addressing the economic case for early response to crises. My days are either spent at my desk, or in the field. When I am at my desk, I am usually on the phone for the morning with colleagues in Africa and Asia, and my afternoons are focused on analysis and writing. When I am in the field, I am either sitting under a tree discussing poverty and the impact of various interventions with community members, or in the capital city working with government and donor counterparts. My work has taken me all over the world – across Asia, Africa and South America. Did your SFS experience contribute to where you ended up? 100%. My love for being in the field has been heavily influenced by my time in Mexico with SFS. Describe an interesting project you’ve worked on. A few years ago I was asked to evaluate an approach to poverty reduction in Ethiopia. Self Help Groups (SHGs) are groups of 15-20 people – mostly women – who come together to save, invest in small businesses, and support each other and their communities. By saving together they are able to lend to each other for small business activities. But more importantly, by working collectively, the women feel empowered to create change in their communities. What’s more, the approach tends to go viral once seeded, with existing groups helping to set up new groups. Determined to do something more, I pulled together a team and we collectively developed an app that would help facilitators to strengthen and spread the Self Help Group model. The app is designed for the facilitators of the groups, and digitizes the weekly content that they use to run a meeting, We could see the potential for an app to help to deepen and strengthen the spread of the approach. At the time, I had no idea where this would lead, or if we would be successful. With seed funding from private donors, we started small and developed a prototype. That led to catalytic funding from the U.K. government. Three years in, we have funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and a vision for a digital platform to help scale the Self Help Group approach globally. What advice do you have for other SFS alumni looking to get into your field? The best advice that I was ever given was that nothing you do is a waste of time. My path in my work has not been linear – I spent some time buying and selling companies for Ernst & Young! But everything that I have done has given me skills that translate through to whatever project I am working on. I have used my experiences from E&Y to build financial models for green technologies, for example, and the negotiating skills that I learned have been invaluable. So don’t be afraid to try something new or different. It can only open your mind to different ways of looking at a problem. → Learn More about Courtenay’s Work in Reducing Poverty Worldwide [post_title] => Alumni Profile: Courtenay Cabot Venton [post_excerpt] => There is nothing better than experiential learning, and my program was a perfect mix of classroom studies and extensive field work. 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(2011) Penn State University; Ph.D. (current) Michigan State University SFS Program: Tanzania/Kenya Fall '10 Current Work: Studying the ecology of carnivores and their prey Why did you choose SFS as a study abroad program? I chose SFS because it was the only program that offered a complete immersive experience in the region where I hoped to study. I wanted to get off the beaten path and get to know East Africa in a way that a typical tourist or student couldn’t. I wanted a program that not only allowed me to study under accomplished local scientists but also challenged me to conduct my own research and contribute meaningfully to larger scientific goals. SFS gave me that and so much more. Instead of reading about wildlife ecology, natural resource management, and policy from a book, I experienced it and learned about it first hand through interviews with community members, meetings with local government, outreach opportunities, and countless trips in the field. I felt like there was never a wasted moment. SFS was everything I had hoped it would be and yet more than I could have ever imagined. What is your most profound or lasting memory from your SFS program? It’s truly impossible to pick! I could write a novel with all the amazing memories I made during my time with SFS. But what I really believe was most profound is not a memory at all, but a feeling. The thing I cherish over all else is the complete sense of excitement and contentment that pervaded everything we did during the program. Yes, there were times of stress while studying or collecting data, of course there were moments I felt tired or confused or frustrated over some small thing. But really there was never a time in my life when I felt happier or more alive than I did during those months in Kenya and Tanzania. It was the sense of family I built with others in the program, the acceptance and love I felt from the community and staff, the sense of accomplishment in the work I was a part of. As our then-director Dr. Moses Okello would say, “my cup of joy was overflowing!” What advice would you give to a prospective SFS student? I would tell every prospective SFS student to never give up on themselves or their goals. SFS students are ambitious, curious, and compassionate. They are the type of people who chase dreams and change the world. If that describes you, then never lose sight of that despite life’s many challenges and setbacks. If you hold on to your passions, work hard, and never settle, you cannot fail. What are you working on now? I am currently a Ph.D. student at Michigan State University. I work in the RECaP Lab (Research on the Ecology of Carnivores and their Prey -- alongside some of the best scientists I have ever met. Together we work to study predator-prey interactions and support the conservation of species all around the globe. The two main ecosystems we currently focus on are the Cleveland Metroparks where we investigate how carnivores and their prey thrive in an urban landscape, and Eastern Africa where our research efforts span from giraffe skin disease to lion depredation of livestock to illegal snaring of predators. For now, what I do is all preparatory. I began working towards my Ph.D. last fall (2016) and have spent the last two semesters taking a few classes, grant writing, and planning my research. I was recently awarded a Graduate Research Fellowship through the National Science Foundation (NSF GRFP). This was my third attempt at the grant and final year of eligibility. So to finally achieve it on my last try means so much. This is a huge honor and gives me a leg up as I pursue my lion research over the coming years. With this award I am more ready than ever to get back to Africa and get to work! I will be heading to Tanzania this summer to start the first phase of my study. This will entail direct collaboration with local herders, conducting focal animal observations on the behavior of cattle and other livestock, and collecting data on the biotic and abiotic factors driving direct and indirect interaction between lions and cattle. The main focus this summer will be to investigate the ways in which cows may alter their behavior in locations of high predation risk. This work will be the basis of my dissertation research overall as I dig deeper into how individual variation in behavior plays a role in human-carnivore conflict. I will continue this theme over the next several years by collaring, following, and monitoring the fine-scale movement patterns and behaviors of all individuals within a lion pride. I hope to gain new insight into the ecology of predator-prey interaction that may lead to decreased conflict in the region. Did your SFS experience contribute to where you ended up? Absolutely! I always knew I wanted to work with large carnivores and have been passionate about studying African species since college. My time at SFS Kenya/Tanzania, however, really opened my eyes to the human aspects of wildlife management in the region. The people I met and worked with were so passionate about finding solutions to their wildlife conflict issues that I was absolutely inspired to help them achieve that goal, and have been ever since. After leaving Africa in 2010, I worked continuously to build the skills and experiences necessary to qualify me to take on this role as a professional scientist. Now, as a Ph.D. student, I will be doing just that. And SFS continues to support my efforts and contribute to where I am headed. I will be working in collaboration with Dr. Bernard Kissui (who now holds the title of director at SFS Tanzania, and who was my professor of wildlife management when I attended the program) and the Tarangire Lion Project that he heads. Sharing data and resources with Dr. Kissui and SFS is an integral part of my research design. My partnership with SFS not only influences my success as a graduate student, but also my own sense of personal accomplishment. I am extremely proud to be an SFS alumna and to continue my work with the program! What advice do you have for other SFS alumni looking to get into your field? SFS alumni looking to start a Ph.D. should remember to try to be patient. As with the current job market, there are more qualified people pursuing graduate education than there are openings. Be persistent and be professional. Do not get discouraged. Occasionally, all the pieces fall into place and the path leading to a PhD is clear. But more likely, it will require a whole lot of time, effort, and patience on your part. [post_title] => Alumni Profile: Jacalyn Beck [post_excerpt] => I am more ready than ever to get back to Africa and get to work! 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Berkeley, A.B. in Biochemistry; Stanford University, M.A. in Education and Teaching Credential; Alliant International University, M.A. in School Counseling SFS Program: Ecuador Summer 1988 - Jatun Sacha Biological Center (Ethnobotanical Studies) Profession: Science Teacher and College Counselor Why did you choose SFS as a study abroad program? It seems like a million years ago but I still remember clearly why I chose SFS. I wanted an adventure. I had been a serious and focused student throughout my life. I wanted to try something completely different and a little bit scary. At SFS, I was still serious and focused but I was also in the Amazonian Rain Forest! Coming from San Francisco, that seemed just about as adventurous as life could get for a inner city kid. At the time, I thought I was very, very brave. And it was different back then. I was literally cut off from contact with everyone I knew in the world. There were no phones, no computers, no fax machines, no connectivity. There were old-fashioned letters. But “after having seen the only town in the area, I have lost all faith in any mail getting home.” I was isolated and remote from everything I knew. And it was exactly what I wanted. As a result, I gained confidence in myself and an abiding trust in humanity. I have retained this trust throughout my life. What did you gain from your SFS experience? I developed a love for Ecuador and its people, and with that came the much broader appreciation for the wisdom and knowledge of cultures throughout the world. Our human experience is incredibly diverse and amazing. There is always more to learn and there are so many brilliant teachers. I still carry many of them with me: Jaime who taught us about forest regeneration and the interdependence of jungle species. He was the coolest! Rocio who taught us about the foods, medicines and spiritual life of the local community. She read my palm and predicted my future. David who taught us how to run controlled experiments with little ”real” equipment and massive environmental factors that were always working against us - the heat, the mud, the wind, the rain, the mold! Alejandro, who taught us to look for signs of the big dangerous snakes when we were out in the field and painted us with achiote to honor and protect us. He lived in a house on stilts with no walls in the middle of paradise. These are only a few of the people who taught me and impressed me. My fellow students from the United States were also amazing. I met adventurous, smart people from all over the country and from all different U.S. cultures. What is your most profound or lasting memory from your SFS program? (See above. Really it was the people!) But my most lasting and impactful science memory was that my experiments were all INCONCLUSIVE! This created a paradigm shift for me. After all those years of reading about successful experiment after successful experiment that led ‘seamlessly’ to our current scientific dogma and after all those high school and college labs that ‘worked’, I realized that the MAJORITY of SCIENCE EXPERIMENTS are FAILURES! I spent countless hours, trying to figure out why there was no plant growth at the base of the Piperacea trees in the forest. I ran controlled experiment, after controlled experiment carefully testing the different possibilities. Nothing, nothing and nothing. I didn’t make any great discovery or even gain any insight into the question. I was seriously disappointed. Now, I very consciously teach my own students that failed experiments are normal and expected. Successful experiments are rare. I challenge the science history found in textbooks. My students do ‘real’ experiments in my classes. They fail. They are inconclusive. But they always learn something. The focus becomes what next? What can we improve to make this experiment better? Scientific thinking is the basis for all my teaching. Experiencing real science is the thing I plan for. It is what engages my students as active learners. What advice would you give to a prospective SFS student? Go for it! Be scared, be nervous, be apprehensive but do it anyway. Your limits will be tested. You will look back and realize that those were some of the most fulfilling times in your life. What do you do for work? I am a science teacher and a college counselor in the public school system. Every day, I work with high school students from varied backgrounds. I get to help them learn academically and plan for their futures. My job entails a lot of prepping, logistics, communication, love, support, patience, dedication and belief in the future. It also requires collaboration with other education professionals and community organizations. Everyday, there are hundreds of things that come at me that I have to deal with. I have to keep a class of 35 students engaged and on task, as I mull over what to do about a student who is in an inappropriate foster care situation. I have to respond to anxious parents as I write letters of recommendation for their children and collect data for the principal to take to the board meeting. I have to monitor the academic progress of my students who may not graduate, contact the Special Education teacher and grade yesterday’s science labs. Oh - and I have to pick up Elodea, crickets and soil for the lab rotations on Monday! Most recently, I was hired to revise the remedial science curriculum for our school district. Students who fail science classes must take credit recovery classes after school, on Saturdays or in dreaded summer school. In the past, most of these “science” classes were textbook and worksheet-based. They were dreary and not very educational. You could hardly call them science classes. I had a budget and the freedom to redesign and implement a new curriculum. Now, these classes are hands-on, inquiry-based and student-centered. The teachers enjoy teaching the curriculum and the students prefer the active learning - even if they still have to go to summer school. Did your SFS experience contribute to where you ended up? The SFS experience absolutely enriched my abilities to be an effective science teacher and contributed to where I ended up. I was exposed to teachers and students who were working off the grid, in the field. They were gritty and resourceful, engaged and curious. I wanted to bring that energy, determination and resourcefulness back to San Francisco for city kids to experience. What advice do you have for other SFS alumni looking to get into your field? Teaching is the most important job in the world and it is the most difficult job in the world. Teacher burnout is brutal and destructive to our society. Teachers need to be paid much, much more and the workload needs to be reduced. Most people can not financially afford to be teachers anymore and most drop out after a few short years of teaching. You can plan on that or you can commit to the long haul and make it work for you. If you are a science teacher, you have a great value to school communities. Figure out how to maximize your value. In order to remain a science teacher, I have had to negotiate and redefine myself to make it work for me. Otherwise, I would have dropped out a long time ago too. Find the right school community to work in. Look for collaborative, supportive, joyful learning environments. Find excellent mentor teachers and administrators who value teachers more than politics. Stay tough and stay gritty. Always bring love to the job! [post_title] => Alumni Profile: Beth Alberts [post_excerpt] => The SFS experience absolutely enriched my abilities to be an effective science teacher and contributed to where I ended up. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => alumni-profile-beth-alberts [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:29 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:29 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2017/07/alumni-profile-beth-alberts/ [menu_order] => 223 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 5465 [nid] => 4613 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => {"rows":[]} [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 5465 ) [1] => Array ( [ID] => 3972 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2012-06-08 09:35:16 [post_date_gmt] => 2012-06-08 09:35:16 [post_content] => Becky Halvorsen, SFS East Africa Fall ’10, has a thrilling story about camping in the Serengeti: “One of the night guards, named Askari Bora, spoke hardly any English but he made fantastic animal noises,” she said. “He did a particularly awesome hyena impression. ‘Fisi hehehehehehe, Askari Bora BAM BAM BAM,’ he would say, while pantomiming thwacking a hyena with his club. During the middle of the night I woke up to that cackling hyena noise. All I could think was, 'Askari Bora, it is the middle of the night, why are you making animal noises outside our tent?' Then I heard a roar and I realized that wasn't a human making those noises! When we got up in the morning we were told that lions had killed a zebra on one side of camp and the hyenas on the other side were trying to steal their kill. We were in the middle of a battle for dinner! It made me appreciate our night guards all the more.” This was exactly what she had signed on for. When she chose SFS Kenya/Tanzania over other study abroad programs, she was hoping for close encounters with the beautiful and unique animals of the savanna – elephants, lions, wildebeest, hyenas, zebras, giraffes, hippos, and more. However, she was also seeking an experience that would go beyond any sort of typical safari tourist experience. “I wanted to be working and living with the local people,” she said. Becky’s semester in Kenya and Tanzania provided her with opportunities to get to know some of the Maasai villagers, including a day-long homestay with a local family. “I spent the morning playing with a little four year old girl. We played head-shoulders-knees-and-toes in Swahili, we drew in the dirt, and we played other games common with little kids at home. When we were walking to the river to get water, she held my hand. At one point, her little brother came up a tried to take my other hand. She stopped him and redirected him to Kate, the other SFS student, with a comment that I could not quite understand, but the gist of it was: this is my mzungu, or white person, you can have that one.” “I ended up falling in love with the people there,” said Becky. “It was one of the experiences that helped me make up my mind about pursuing a career in medicine.” This July, Becky is returning to Kenya with SFS to participate in the field practicum in public health and environment. She is looking forward to spending more time focusing on the environmental issues that affect the health of rural Kenyan communities, like access to clean water and quality health services. After the program, she will spend six months volunteering with Nyumbani Village, a self-sustained community that pairs orphans and elders who have lost their families to the HIV pandemic. “It will be another life changing experience and I think I will come out of it feeling more prepared to conquer even bigger goals, including medical school, which I will start in the fall,” she said. Good luck, Becky, with all your future adventures! [post_title] => Alumni Profile: Becky Halvorsen [post_excerpt] => Becky Halvorsen has a thrilling story about camping in the Serengeti. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => alumni-profile-becky-halvorsen [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:25 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:25 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2012/06/alumni-profile-becky-halvorsen/ [menu_order] => 1112 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 3972 [nid] => 3447 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 3972 ) [2] => Array ( [ID] => 3995 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2012-07-13 09:15:57 [post_date_gmt] => 2012-07-13 09:15:57 [post_content] => As I filled out my immigration form, I realized that I didn’t have the address. Crap. I remembered my passport, snorkel gear, bathing suit, AAA batteries for the site manager, espresso roast coffee for the environmental policy professor, but I forgot to get the address for the Center. I scribbled down “South Caicos” and hoped that the agent would not ask too many questions. When it was my turn, I walked up to the counter and presented my papers. “You are going to South Caicos?” the uniformed border agent asked. “Yes,” I replied. “With The School for Field Studies?” he asked. “Yes.” “Okay, go ahead,” he said, waiving me through. Whew! I was glad they know us at the airport. I walked through Provo’s small airport and into Gillie’s restaurant. I ordered a cold red Gatorade and watched CNN on the television. Obama’s healthcare law had been upheld by the Supreme Court by a narrow margin. Sitting in this Caribbean café, The US seemed very far away. Sanjay Gupta was describing the verdict and its implications for health care in the states, but I hurried along to catch my flight on TCI Air. It was a small propeller jet with only eight seats, but we cruised along with few bumps over the azure water. At the South Caicos airport, Center Director Heidi Hertler picked me up in the passenger van. It was bigger than my airplane. Heidi not only runs our Marine Resource Studies program in the Turks and Caicos Islands, but she is also an alumna herself, having participated in an SFS program in the Virgin Islands in 1987. “It changed my life,” she said. Before her SFS experience, Heidi was pre-med at Bates College. After diving and studying marine life for a summer session, she made a swift shift in her career path to oceanography and environmental studies. I arrived at the field station, and my mouth dropped open. It is perched up on a cliff with a truly spectacular, panoramic view of the ocean. I was dazzled, and a bit disoriented, by its beauty, but I managed to pull myself together for a site tour with the Student Affairs Manager and SFS alumna Kimbrough Mauney (TCI Summer ’00). The field station, formerly a hotel called the “Admiral’s Arms Inn,” has been our home in the Caribbean since 1990. There is an outdoor dining area, kitchen, pool, dormitory, and classroom. Down the steps, past the scuba dive shed and the remains of an old sea salt storage facility, there is a dock where we keep three boats. According to Kimbrough, not much has changed at the Center or in the community of South Caicos since she was a student here in the summer of 2000. There are a number of new tourism developments being built, however, so change looms on the horizon. That night, I had a chance to visit the future site of one of these developments when I tagged along with the students on a camping trip. The wide sandy beach is adjacent to property owned by Sailrock, an American company building eco-friendly residences.  We pitched our tents on sand as white as sugar, then gathered around a bonfire for marshmallows and charades. As the fire burned down to coals, I crawled into the tent and slept like a rock. The next morning we piled in the van to head to the old Coast Guard lookout. Alumna and waterfront assistant Chrissy Lamendola (TCI Spring ’10), led us on a “lazy river” snorkel, floating with the current around mangroves. I saw a giant barracuda and a flounder, along with many smaller tropical fish. That night, back at the Center, we had a demonstration on how to crack upon a conch shell and clean it. You tap the top part with the hammer to loosen its grip, then use a long, sharp knife to extract the animal and clean away the organs. That night, we dined on delicious conch fritters! I tried to get the recipe, but exact quantities were hard to come by! “Add a little ground up conch, put in a little flour and some red peppers and onions, then deep fry in hot oil.” Conch is one of the main fisheries on the island, alongside spiny lobster. I wasn’t able to taste the lobster since it is not in season, but I saw many of them tucked in coral-covered crevices while snorkeling! An excursion to another soon-to-be operating tourist development on the island, East Bay, was postponed, so the students had extra time to prepare for their upcoming exam on resource management and marine protected areas. Since I work in alumni relations at SFS, I gave a quick talk about the SFS alumni community and the amazing feats our students go on to accomplish. I have a feeling that we will be hearing great things from this group in the future. The next morning at 7am, I was awoken early by blaring music from the local Haitian church. It must have been quite the party! The preacher interspersed sermons in French and English with pop music by Celine Dion and Brittany Spears. With “Hit Me Baby One More Time,” now stuck in my head, I wandered into the dining room for breakfast. That morning, after site cleanup, students were either diving or snorkeling, and I joined the snorkeling group for a trip out the Long Cay. Kimbrough was my “buddy” and she pointed out spiny lobster, French grunts, flamingo tongues, an eel, and a school of barracuda. Somehow, I missed the octopus and eagle rays that the students spotted! Later that afternoon, we invited the local island children to the field station for swimming lessons, games, and art projects. Lena Weiss, an alumna from TCI summer 2011, helped arrange a donation of numerous children’s swimsuits from the Swimmers Choice store in Syosset, New York, so there were plenty of suits to go around. I manned the coloring station and invited children to color transparent pages of tropical fish. We hung them on the rafter and they flitted in the breeze. Sunday, my last day on the island, is a free day for staff and students. I took a long walk around town, snapping photos of the dilapidated former Governor’s mansion, the regatta where Queen Elizabeth once landed her royal yacht, the elementary school decorated with a beautiful mural painted by SFS students, and the local shops, bars, and churches. After dinner, Kimbrough was kind enough to take me on a night snorkel, where our flashlights illuminated the nooks and crannies of the rocks and coral. She dove down to scoop up a sea cucumber and pointed out a puffer fish. Unfortunately, the puffer fish was too fast for me; it darted under a rock before I had time to set my eyes upon it! Before I knew it, it was time to head home! It was incredible to be able to spend some time with this amazing group of students and this dedicated, talented staff. I hope to be able to return someday, and maybe next time, I will see an eagle ray! [post_title] => HQ in the Field [post_excerpt] => The field station, formerly a hotel called the "Admiral’s Arms Inn," has been our home in the Caribbean since 1990. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => hq-in-the-field [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:25 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:25 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2012/07/hq-in-the-field/ [menu_order] => 1088 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 3995 [nid] => 3463 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 3995 ) [3] => Array ( [ID] => 4006 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2012-07-19 09:23:16 [post_date_gmt] => 2012-07-19 09:23:16 [post_content] => On a recent trip to the SFS field station in the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI), SFS staff member Marta Brill had a chance to sit down and chat with two of our newest waterfront interns, Chrissy Lamendola and Amanda Greenstein. Both of these diving safety rock stars attended the University of San Diego and participated in the SFS-TCI program as students. Chrissy was here in Spring 2010, and Amanda came along the next year with the Spring 2011 cohort. Read on to find out about the life of an SFS intern, where “just another day at the office” sometimes means swimming with hammerhead sharks. Marta Brill: So, how did you first find out about SFS? CHRISSY: I found out about SFS my freshman year in the mailroom, of all places. I saw one of the posters hanging up there with cards to tear off, and I thought, ‘This seems awesome!’ I tore off one of the little slips and held on to it until my junior year, when I looked into all the programs and got really excited. What attracted me to the TCI program specifically was all the diving and snorkeling that you could do. AMANDA: University of San Diego is an affiliated school, so there are posters everywhere and they also have meetings scheduled regularly where SFS alumni show pictures and answer questions from students. I remember going to a session and thinking, ‘This sounds so cool.’ I went with TCI because I wanted to be in the water as much as possible, and I wanted to dive. MB: And, looking back on your time as a student, is there a particular memory or moment that stands out in your mind? CHRISSY: When I was going through customs, on my first day, the man reviewing my paperwork told me about the lionfish problem. I had no idea what he was talking about. But he said to me, ‘You have to do something about the lionfish.’ When I got to the Center, I found out that that was a Directed Research project I could do. So, I jumped on it. AMANDA: I remember my first dive at the grotto. We went down to sixty feet and I saw a reef shark for the first time and I was blown away. My heart was pounding out of my chest, I was so excited. It was a really special moment.  I was stunned by the beauty of the water and the diving and the whole experience. This was very early in the semester, but I was already thinking, ‘This place is incredible.’ MB: What do you think you gained from your semester? What were the real takeaways? AMANDA: I felt a major tie to the community here on South Caicos. I really got to know what this place was all about. Many people who come to the Turks and Caicos come as tourists, but I had a very different experience than that. I was immersed in the culture here and I got a deep understanding of what some of the real issues are. It is not as simple as just saving the environment. You have to think about the social and economic aspects. CHRISSY: When I first arrived, I was freaked out by how isolated South Caicos is, even though of course, you still have access to all the essentials. But, that isolation forced me really look inside myself and figure out who I was as a person. In the absence of external influences, l could figure out who I really was, what I liked and what I didn’t like. Plus, I came away with strong friendships with students from all around the US and in other countries. MB: Tell me what motivated the two of you to come back here and work for us as interns? CHRISSY: I never wanted to leave. When Amanda came back from her semester we met up for lunch, and she said, ‘We are both going to get our dive masters, and then we are both going to go back as interns.’ And I thought, ‘Sure, okay, we’ll see if that really happens.’ But, a year later, here we are! AMANDA: I knew halfway into the semester that I wanted to be an intern here. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do after I graduated. This seemed like the perfect opportunity and I loved what the program gave me. And I really like the environment here, the feel of the whole Center; the relationship between the students and the staff is really close, like family. MB: Can you describe a typical day for an intern at SFS-TCI? CHRISSY: Wake up.  Go to two or more meetings. Then you do your morning duties, which could be equipment checks or whatnot. Then, depending on the day of the week, you’re either diving and snorkeling, or doing research field activities, or just basic boat or mooring maintenance. Next, it is lunch, which you are always ready for. In the afternoon, you do field exercises with the students or go on a field trip with them. Then dinner, and then sometimes you do a night dive or a night snorkel. MB: And how is it going so far? Any good stories? AMANDA:  Well, on our first dive back here we went to the arch, and after about five minutes, a hammerhead shark swam by. Then, at the end of the dive, we saw a pod of five dolphins and a huge turtle. And I thought, ‘This is incredible. If this is any sign of the year to come, this is going to be awesome.’ It was the best dive you could imagine. CHRISSY: It was a sign! MB: What do you think is next for you? Do you have a dream career in mind? AMANDA: I am hoping that this year will give me a better idea of what I really want to do. I am interested to see what opportunities might come from this experience. I can explore what specific area of marine science I want to eventually pursue in grad school. CHRISSY: I want to do marine mammal rehabilitation and a big part of that is education. By working here, I get a lot of diving experience, but at the same time, I get education experience. This should help my resume stand out. [post_title] => A Day in the Life of an SFS Intern [post_excerpt] => SFS staff member Marta Brill sits down and chats with two alumni and our newest waterfront interns, Chrissy Lamendola and Amanda Greenstein. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => a-day-in-the-life-of-an-sfs-intern [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:25 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:25 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2012/07/a-day-in-the-life-of-an-sfs-intern/ [menu_order] => 1086 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 4006 [nid] => 3473 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 4006 ) [4] => Array ( [ID] => 4023 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2012-08-07 09:32:32 [post_date_gmt] => 2012-08-07 09:32:32 [post_content] => Jeffrey Flocken (SFS Kenya Summer '90) is the DC Office Director at the International Fund for Animal Welfare. He recently coauthored a book called Wildlife Heroes with fellow conservationist Julie Scardina that has been featured on the TODAY SHOW, the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, NPR, and Sirius Radio, and has received endorsements from celebrities like Ted Danson, Jack Hanna and Dr. Jane Goodall. All profits from the book will support wildlife conservation efforts. I had always wanted to help wildlife; however, I wasn't sure in what capacity. SFS offered the opportunity to experience conservation first-hand and get a feel for what it would mean to work in the field as a wildlife researcher. I'd always dreamed of studying wildlife in Africa. SFS was exactly what I was looking for.

The course attracted amazing people! I actually met and shared a hut with a student who ended up being the best man in my wedding fifteen years later. He was the first vegetarian I had ever met, and he inspired me to give up meat as well (22 years and still going). We bonded over the experience of studying in Africa and our passion for wildlife conservation, and we stayed friends for years. He died tragically of cancer two years ago, but before he did he worked in the Peace Corps and started an organization in southern Africa helping people with AIDS. Since graduating, I have run into other students and instructors from my class who have also devoted their lives to wildlife conservation and the environmental movement. The funny thing is, although I was looking to gain field experience, and I really did love it, my time at SFS helped me decide that I, personally, could do more good for conservation with policy work than with field research. As soon as I got back to the University of Michigan, I switched my focus from science to pre-law and have been doing wildlife conservation from a policy and education perspective ever since. Some of my career highlights have included spending two months in India filming a documentary on tigers, creating the flagship endangered species program for a national conservation group, traveling the Brazilian Pantanal for an educational wildlife expedition, and working for the U.S. government on an annual 10-million dollar grant program to help internationally endangered species. Five years ago, I was offered the job of DC Office Director for the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW). In this position, I head-up U.S. policy for an international organization that carries out wildlife conservation and animal welfare projects in over thirty countries around the world. I work with a staff of dedicated professionals (lobbyists, lawyers, communicators, and policy experts) who analyze opportunities for creating or improving U.S. wildlife policy to better conserve wildlife and promote animal welfare. This means working with government officials, businesses, scientists, congressmen, or fellow conservationists -- whatever is necessary to promote and advance sound wildlife practices in the U.S. I was also one of the lead authors on a petition to list African lions as Endangered under the US Endangered Species Act – which if successful, will save hundreds of imperiled lions from needless deaths every year. I saw my first wild elephants when I was on the SFS course in Kenya. Now, many years later, I was directly part of a victory that will stop thousands of elephant ivory pieces from being sold online. My office speared-headed an investigation into U.S. websites being used as platforms for buying and selling endangered species and their parts, in particular the sale of elephant ivory. As a direct result of our work, the world’s largest buyer-seller website, eBay, agreed to ban ivory on all their sites. This victory means fewer opportunities for selling ivory from poached elephants, a species still seriously threatened with extinction. Recently, I ventured into new career territory: wildlife author. I coauthored a book called Wildlife Heroes with a fellow conservationist Julie Scardina. In it, we profile 40 real-life conservationists and the animals -- and the threats to biodiversity -- that they are dedicated to working on. We wrote the book because we've both been so inspired by individuals we've come into contact with around the world saving animals, and we wanted to share their stories. The wildlife crisis our world faces is huge, but luckily there are amazing individuals tackling the problem. Sales have happily surpassed expectations. Apparently people are eager to hear inspiring stories about helping animals, as we’re on our third printing since it was released in March 2012. It helps that we've gotten good media attention from outlets including the TODAY SHOW, the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, NPR, and Sirius Radio, as well as endorsements from celebrities like Ted Danson, Jack Hanna and Dr. Jane Goodall. And, my coauthor and I are giving 100% of our profits to wildlife conservation, so all sales help animals, which I think makes people feel good about buying the book itself.

Interviewing 40 of my personal heroes was amazing. Many I already knew from my own wildlife conservation career, but every one of them inspired me all over again after learning anew about their unique contributions to saving wildlife. I am so obsessed with animals that I can’t help but be starry-eyed when I talk to people who have dedicated their lives to saving them. Without a doubt, I got where I am today because I am passionate and committed to wildlife conservation. I always knew what I wanted to do, and I pursued it with vigor, taking advantage of every opportunity to learn more about the field and meet people involved in it. For anyone interested in pursuing a career path like mine, I advise you to network aggressively and don’t be afraid to take chances. And most importantly, take advantage of every opportunity to get out into the field and see the animals you are working to protect. That is what keeps you motivated! Meet more SFS alumni [post_title] => Alumni Profile: Jeff Flocken [post_excerpt] => Jeffrey Flocken (SFS Kenya Summer '90) is the DC Office Director at the International Fund for Animal Welfare. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => alumni-profile-jeff-flocken [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:25 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:25 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2012/08/alumni-profile-jeff-flocken/ [menu_order] => 1074 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 4023 [nid] => 3486 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 4023 ) [5] => Array ( [ID] => 4033 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2012-09-05 13:10:01 [post_date_gmt] => 2012-09-05 13:10:01 [post_content] => “When I got back here, I wanted to jump right in the water and say hi to the French grunts,” said Kimbrough Mauney, Student Affairs Manager at the SFS Center for Marine Resource Students in the Turks and Caicos Islands. “They are still there! And really, not much has changed in twelve years, other than some concentrated tourist development. There is a new road and about 3000 more hotel rooms in the works.” French Grunts She first got acquainted with the island of South Caicos, its beaches and reefs, and its vibrant and diverse marine animals while an SFS student in the summer of 2000. “I knew I wanted to study the oceans. This was a perfect summer opportunity. At SFS, the academics were demanding, and the professors had rigorous credentials. I appreciated that. Developing a strong relationship with them made me want to keep pushing myself throughout my studies. They were passionate about their research, and had traveled the world pursuing their subjects, and I wanted to be like that.” After graduating with a B.S. in oceanography from Duke University, Kimbrough pursued a master’s degree in environmental education at the Western Washington University. She moved to Anchorage, Alaska seven years ago, where she managed a high ropes challenge course and rock wall, expanded her knowledge on Pacific Ocean issues and important species (such as salmon and tidal zone invertebrates), and contributed to numerous local environmental and educational initiatives focused on reducing food waste. Kimbrough has returned to SFS-TCI as a staff member overseeing student affairs, safety and risk management, community outreach, and the smooth operation of daily life at the field station. “I want the students to enjoy themselves, to stay safe and healthy, to do their academics well, and to do their fun time well. But, I also hope they say to themselves ‘wow, that was a cool professor. I want to be like that someday. I want to be that passionate about my research.’ I want them to say ‘research is cool, professors who do research get to do cool things.’” She said she also hopes that students take away an appreciation for the simple things. “This is a developing community, and it is different than what students are used to back home. We appreciate avocadoes here because we don’t get them often,” she said. “We appreciate bananas and fresh water. When they return home, I hope students remember what it is like to live with limited resources.” From their first days on the island, students are taught about constraints on water, food, and electricity, and they are asked to live sustainably within these limitations. For example, students are asked to take just one freshwater shower per week, turn off the lights and fan when they are not necessary, and be mindful about not wasting food. “It is a great program, and it is academically strong. I am so happy to be a part of it,” she said. Meet more SFS alumni [post_title] => Alumni Profile: Kimbrough Mauney [post_excerpt] => I knew I wanted to study the oceans. This was a perfect summer opportunity. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => alumni-profile-kimbrough-mauney [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:25 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:25 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2012/09/alumni-profile-kimbrough-mauney/ [menu_order] => 1067 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 4033 [nid] => 3492 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 4033 ) [6] => Array ( [ID] => 4049 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2012-09-26 07:15:24 [post_date_gmt] => 2012-09-26 07:15:24 [post_content] => The SFS Center for Rainforest Studies - known affectionately as Warrawee - is turning 25! For the past quarter-century, staff and students at CRS, alongside community partners, have contributed to the reforestation and preservation of the World Heritage-listed Wet Tropics. Help us celebrate this milestone by designing a limited-edition t-shirt. The winning design will be featured on a commemorative t-shirt, and proceeds from the sale of this shirt will support our program in Australia. The winning artist will receive a gift certificate to The SFS Store! Contest Guidelines
  • Only SFS alumni and current students are eligible.
  • You must incorporate The School for Field Studies, Australia, and Warrawee’s 25th Anniversary into the design.
  • Your design may include line art and text but no photographs. Please limit your design to 5 colors, including black.
  • Your design is for the front of the shirt and may encompass an area up to 10 x 10.
  • The design must be your own original work and must not include any third-party logos or copyrighted material. By entering the contest, you agree that your submission is your own work.
Submitting an Entry
  • Please submit high-resolution images in .eps, .jpg, or .png formats. Max file size: 2MB.
  • Submit images electronically to alumni@fieldstudies.org, with the file name as your last name.
  • Submissions are accepted until Friday, November 2nd, 2012.
The Fine Print
  • The School for Field Studies reserves the right to make changes to the winning design before printing, including changes in image size or ink color or t-shirt color.
  • By submitting your design, you grant permission for your design to be used by SFS including, but not limited to, the website, the t-shirt, and future marketing materials.
  • SFS reserves the right to final decision.
[post_title] => 25th Anniversary "Design a T-Shirt" Contest [post_excerpt] => The SFS Center for Rainforest Studies - known affectionately as Warrawee - is turning 25! [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 25th-anniversary-design-a-t-shirt-contest [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:25 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:25 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2012/09/25th-anniversary-design-a-t-shirt-contest/ [menu_order] => 1053 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 4049 [nid] => 3507 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 4049 ) [7] => Array ( [ID] => 4076 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2012-10-19 09:21:22 [post_date_gmt] => 2012-10-19 09:21:22 [post_content] => SFS alumna Jen (Loose) Ryan Costa Rica Spring ’94 learned a lot from riding the buses through Central America, even if she did not realize it at the time. “Looking at the massive erosion from certain agricultural practices gave me a sense of how important good environmental laws and regulations are. I saw for myself what happens when you don’t have that kind of structure. And I think that led me to the kind of work I am doing now. It took me a while to get here, but that experience planted a seed in the back of my mind that laws and regulations are tremendously important.” For the past six years, Ryan held the position of Legislative Director for Massachusetts Audubon, where she advocated for laws and policies on Boston’s Beacon Hill to protect the nature of Massachusetts. She recently left to spend time at home with her two young children before she embarks on the next phase of her career. “Advocacy is a lot of fun,” said Ryan. “It is always varied, so you get to meet a whole range of people and work on a range of issues. It has been a tremendous experience for me personally and professionally.” “Massachusetts Audubon is working vigorously to defend the state’s endangered species act," said Ryan, "which is under attack from a small number of land owners and developers who are trying to roll back endangered species protection. They are also focused on reducing carbon emissions and tackling climate change by creating incentives for environmentally responsible green energy in Massachusetts, and providing incentives for communities to reduce their energy use, use higher efficiency cars, and deploy clean energy.” There is no official career path for getting into advocacy work, although it helps to be good at building relationships and have a strong attention to detail. Ryan arrived at her position on Beacon Hill through studies in entomology. Yes, that’s right. Bugs. “I love the beauty and complexity of insects,” she said. “They are a whole other universe on another scale than we normally operate in, and they are fascinating in their variety, especially in a place like the rainforest where the number of tree species per acres is higher than anywhere else and the numbers of insect species are too.  And when you look at them under a magnifying scope, they are complex and beautiful with colors and forms that you wouldn’t expect.” As an undergraduate student at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, Ryan was contemplating switching her major from anthropology to evolutionary biology and ecology before embarking on her SFS program. Her study abroad experience with SFS Costa Rica, and the wide range of biodiversity she encountered there, inspired her to take the plunge. “I went back, switched my major, and got a job working in the lab of Dr. David Wagner, an entomologist at the University of Connecticut. It took me an extra year of college to finish, but I did some great work with moths and butterflies and gypsy moth control in the national forest of West Virginia.” She went on to pursue graduate work in entomology, and got her Master’s from the University of Maine in Orono. She began working as a conservation biologist for the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife’s Natural Heritage and Endangered Species program. After five years of doing field work and permitting for the Commonwealth, she began to move into inter-agency policy work, especially around public health issues regarding insect borne diseases including eastern equine encephalitis and West Nile virus. “The more I got involved with regulatory work, the more I felt like for me, personally, I could do more good on a broader scale on the policy side of things than I could with site specific or on the ground work.” Just this summer, after six years of effort, Ryan and her team successfully advocated for updates to the Massachusetts Community Preservation Act, which provides funding at the local level for land conservation, affordable housing, historic preservation, and recreational assets. This will help communities to use ‘smart growth’ principles, protect their historic resources, have safe playgrounds for kids, and protect open space.  To date, the Community Preservation Act has resulted in over 15,000 acres of natural areas protected in the Commonwealth.  It is a great example of how environmental advocacy makes a difference in our towns, and in our lives. Meet more SFS alumni [post_title] => Alumni Profile: Jen Ryan [post_excerpt] => SFS alumna Jen (Loose) Ryan learned a lot from riding the buses through Central America, even if she did not realize it at the time. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => alumni-profile-jen-ryan [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:25 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:25 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2012/10/alumni-profile-jen-ryan/ [menu_order] => 1034 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 4076 [nid] => 3528 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 4076 ) [8] => Array ( [ID] => 4078 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2012-10-23 09:37:52 [post_date_gmt] => 2012-10-23 09:37:52 [post_content] => This post was originally written and published by Jaymi Heimbuch on Treehugger.com. Follow Jaymi and the Oceanic Society on Twitter. © Wayne Sentman In the photo above, a group is being taught how to measure leatherback sea turtles, thanks to a couple human volunteers. And, the photo above illustrates a lot of what Wayne Sentman does as a biologist and tour leader with Oceanic Society, a nonprofit conservation group. Traveling the world, Sentman takes small groups of people ("voluntourists" with Oceanic Society) everywhere from remote atolls in the middle of the Pacific Ocean to wildlife reserves in Kenya, teaching participants about the wonders of the natural world and engaging them in field work themselves. Here's Sentman in his business suit: © Wayne Sentman I first met Sentman at the airport in Honolulu. A friend and I were picking him up on our way to another airport, this time for a plane taking us all out to Midway Atoll. During the week I spent with Wayne, throwing question after question at him and hearing not only interesting answers to the questions but stories about his travels and studies as well, it occurred to me that this guy really has one of the most amazing jobs in the world. So, putting aside questions about endangered sea turtles and monk seals for once, I asked him about his job. © Wayne Sentman So, you have one of the coolest jobs in the world. You travel the globe with Oceanic Society teaching groups of people about amazing ecosystems and conservation efforts to preserve them, from Midway to Belize to Kenya. How did you land this gig? A bit of luck and a lot of post-undergraduate, poorly paid seasonal wildlife biologist jobs. Right out of college I participated in a School for Field Studies Wildlife Management semester in Kenya program. It was here that I really understood that I wanted my "office" to be outdoors, and that I wanted to work with on the ground conservation programs. Next I ended up working as a kayak guide in Loreto, Baja California Sur, Mexico for a wonderful group called Sea Quest Expeditions where I first had the opportunity to share my love of the outdoors with groups of "eco-tourists." Leading week long self-contained kayaking trips in the Sea of Cortez, having fin whales glide under my kayak, only cemented my desire to figure out how to keep doing this kind of work. Finally in 1998 I ended up moving from San Francisco to Hawaii, helping to monitor endangered Hawaiian monk seals on remote Midway Atoll for the National Marine Fisheries Service. It was here that things all started to come together. Oceanic Society had worked out a partnership with US Fish & Wildlife Service to utilize paying tourists or eco-volunteers to assist in monitoring the monk seals on Midway. I was finally able to combine my love of science and research with education. Over the last 14 years, with Oceanic Society I have been able to use my background in the conservation of marine ecosystems and human-wildlife conflict to travel to a variety of locations around the globe helping ecotourist groups get out and see firsthand the beauty of nature and the challenges we all face in trying to promote its conservation. © Wayne Sentman What's the most fulfilling part of your job? There are two things that I find most rewarding. The first is helping individuals that might be a bit scared of certain parts of nature to start to feel comfortable, relaxing enough so they can experience their connection with nature. On some trips in the past we have even had silent days where no one in the group says a word for the first half of the day. At these times the group is forced to truly experience the smells, sounds, and sights of where we are. It can be a powerful experience on many levels. The second most fulfilling thing is helping people on our trips be better consumers when they return home. To have them start to connect their experiential travel to their habits at home is wonderful. If you like sea turtles then how can you go home and pig out on shrimp, an industry that kills thousands of turtles? If you go to Midway and see an albatross carcass full of plastic, you will never look the same way at a plastic lighter again. Leading trips for so many years I am lucky enough to have the same individuals do multiple trips with me, I have been able to see how collectively their experiences have inspired them to look beyond their own backyard and strive to live more responsibly as part of an international community. © Wayne Sentman What's the most frustrating part of your job? How sometimes people allow the inconveniences of travel (delayed connections, bad weather, simple food, crowing roosters) to detract from the important part of what they have come to experience. Sometimes you have to put up with the mosquitoes, 6-hour canoe ride in the rain, and 4-day diet of rice and a "meat" in order to see something incredible. In fact many times it is exactly because it is so challenging to get to that some of these natural areas still exist. © Wayne Sentman How has your outlook on conservation been altered by the work you do with Oceanic Society? In working with Oceanic Society over the years I have helped to develop a variety of "voluntourism" research programs. Many of these programs have taken place over 10 years or longer. Because of this I have been able to repeatedly return to areas and see them succeed or fail in their conservation efforts. One of the things I have learned is how valuable an organization like Oceanic Society can be to International research programs by committing to these efforts not just for the term of a Master's degree but for multiple years. I have also witnessed how sharing these remote places with a concerned and interested group of people can often lead to fortifying an international constituency for otherwise "invisible" efforts. Finally returning to sites year after year has allowed me to see the benefit to local people that having the opportunity to share their culture and "backyard" nature with tourists can provide. The ability to share their nature (and occasionally benefit from that sharing) sometimes engenders a unique perspective about what it is that people have that is "valuable." Many folks that we work with in other countries go on to start or grow their own in-country businesses directed at conserving nature. As I return to these places the ones that successfully find a path to solve their conflicts always have committed local individuals that have devote great portions of their life to the effort. © Wayne Sentman What's the best comment you've ever heard from someone on an Oceanic Society tour? "I cannot believe I paid this much money to be so nervous" - Oceanic Coral reef monitoring volunteer just prior to her first Fish ID "check-out" snorkel. Whispered around 2:00 AM: " So you mean this leatherback could be older than any of us in this group?" Reply from one member of a group of four sea turtle nesting volunteers (all 65 or older) filling out a data sheet for a nesting Leatherback in Suriname. © Wayne Sentman "That was the highlight of my life! If the rest of this trip goes to hell I would not care!" - Remark from a 71-year-old Oceanic member after feeding a liter of milk to an orphaned Rhino in Kenya. Group member on an 11-day snorkeling trip in Micronesia Day 1 - "I really do not want to see any sharks, I will probably get out of the water if we see one." Day 2 - "DID YOU SEE THE SHARK IT WAS SO COOL" Day 8 - "I was trying to swim closer to the shark so I could get a better look at it." If you'd like to take part in an Oceanic Society Expedition (and you should!!) then check out the list of Expeditions they have around the world and pick a date. From Baja to Antarctica, from Midway to Kenya, from Tonga to the Galapagos, you can be part of an amazing adventure while at the same time helping to protect and preserve the places you're visiting. © Wayne Sentman [post_title] => SFS Alum Has "Coolest Job Ever" [post_excerpt] => Traveling the world, Sentman takes small groups of people ("voluntourists" with Oceanic Society) everywhere from remote atolls in the middle of the Pacific Ocean to wildlife reserves in Kenya... [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => sfs-alum-has-coolest-job-ever [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:26 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:26 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2012/10/sfs-alum-has-coolest-job-ever/ [menu_order] => 1031 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 4078 [nid] => 3530 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 4078 ) [9] => Array ( [ID] => 4104 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2012-11-14 13:17:02 [post_date_gmt] => 2012-11-14 13:17:02 [post_content] => "Farm City" was the first selection of SFS READS, our new book club! We do not have a formal meeting or membership, it's just a chance for everyone in the SFS community to come together and exchange ideas. If you have some thoughts to share on "Farm City" or urban gardening, please let us know in the comments! Novella Carpenter is an Urban Farmer. It's a label she stumbles upon while carousing at a local speakeasy and it is a perfect fit to describe her unusual lifestyle. Novella may live in "the ghetto" of Oakland, California, but that doesn't stop her from pursuing her agricultural dreams: from cultivating heirloom vegetables and fruit to keeping bees to raising poultry, rabbits, and even pigs. The obstacles she encounters are uniquely urban. She must deal with teenage gang members, neighborhood dogs, and the not-so-minor detail that she is squatting on a vacant lot destined to one day be the site of condominiums. Her creative and resourceful solutions are urban, too. She picks weeds out of sidewalk cracks to feed the  poultry, raids the Chinatown dumpster for her pigs, fashions pens out of objects discarded by the highway, and befriends a local restaurateur who shares his kitchen and techniques. During one particularly challenging month, she experiments with living completely off the land and finds that it is possible. The fruits, veggies, eggs, and rabbits are plentiful. Home-brewed tea replaces coffee. Carbs prove to be more elusive with her disappointing potato crop, but she makes do by grinding up some ornamental corncobs for pancakes. It's a moment of great accomplishment, but also great consternation. Her breath begins to stink, she is constantly hungry, and she misses the camaraderie that accompanies a great meal out at a local restaurant. In this book, it is the livestock, rather the garden, that take center stage. New farmers must learn to nourish and care for their animals, but they must also learn to kill them. This is a two-pronged process. First, you have to investigate the physical process of killing. As Novella diligently asks the advice of others and checks out books from the library, the reader gets a glimpse of what it takes to move livestock from pen to plate. Secondly, you must come to terms with ending the life of a beloved pet named Maude. Not many Americans have the experience of knowing their meat, unlike in generations past. With Novella's words, the reader gains a new respect for dinner. Throughout "Farm City," the reader is treated to Novella's bright spirit, engaging wit, and humility. She is not a "trustafarian," as she calls some members of the privileged class experimenting in agricultural side projects. She is eking out a life doing something she loves. The concept of farming the ghetto may seem a bit far-fetched at first, but her story shows that it is not only feasible, it can also be satisfying, ethical, sustainable, and a lot of fun. [post_title] => SFS Book Review: Farm City by Novella Carpenter [post_excerpt] => "Farm City" was the first selection of SFS Reads, our new book club! [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => sfs-book-review-farm-city-by-novella-carpenter [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:26 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:26 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2012/11/sfs-book-review-farm-city-by-novella-carpenter/ [menu_order] => 1011 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 4104 [nid] => 3550 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 4104 ) [10] => Array ( [ID] => 4148 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2013-01-10 12:43:18 [post_date_gmt] => 2013-01-10 12:43:18 [post_content] => There is a wooded path near my home that, until recently, welcomed runners, bikers, and dog walkers with this cautionary sign: Passing the sign on my evening runs was disheartening, but it was also intriguing. How did my quaint seaside neighborhood get so polluted anyway? I did a little research. It turns out that from about 1840 to 1906, this site was home to the Forest River Lead company, where workers produced 6,000 tons of white lead (a base ingredient for paint) per year in one of the country’s largest factories of its kind. The last building burned down in the late 1960's, and the toxic woodlands and beach lay empty and undeveloped for decades while clean-up talks and proposals went nowhere. A fence was installed to restrict access to the land and waterfront and limit possible exposure to lead, but residents still frequented the open pathway that cuts through the property. I admit it. While I did not welcome the pollution or appreciate the lack of public access to the waterfront, I found the history riveting. I liked to imagine the now quiet, empty land when it was bustling with workers, dotted with smokestacks, and humming with the clanging of 19th century industrial activity. So, when I picked up Andrew Blackwell’s book, “Visit Sunny Chernobyl,” (our SFS Reads selection for December) I could relate. The author is altogether fascinated by contaminated landscapes, and by the people that live and work there, too. But unlike me, who envisions historical degradation, Blackwell travels to toxic and filthy spots in their prime. Inspired by a chance visit to Kanpur, India and its “dysfunctional sewage treatment plants, illegal industrial dumps, poisonous tanneries, and feces strewn beaches,” he embarks on a tour of the places he deems to be “the world’s most polluted,” including Chernobyl, China’s coal country, the Western Garbage Patch, India’s Yamuna River, and the tar sand mining operations of Alberta, Canada. The book reads like a travel memoir. While it provides an excellent history and overview of each area, it focuses more on Blackwell’s personal observations and experiences. He deliberately visits them as a tourist might – checking out the local museum, taking the guided bus tour, and going for leisurely hikes and boat rides. He chats with local residents, attends local festivals, and tries to get sense of what it’s like to be part of these notorious communities. And, he does seem to have a pretty good time in these sullied and desecrated places! Along the way, he makes the case that we should start accepting and understanding the planet as it is – full of people, industry, and even waste – and not as a romanticized wilderness. Sustainable solutions to large environmental problems must take into account the people that depend on natural resources for their livelihoods. This becomes most clear for Blackwell, perhaps, in the Amazonian rainforest, where he realizes that a group of loggers can be “angels of sustainability.” It is a sentiment we often hear from SFS students, who learn to view environmental problems from an economic, political, and sociological perspective, as well as a biological one. They see the complexity of conservation work and gain an entirely new outlook after meeting with local fishermen, farmers, ranchers, and ecotourism operators. Recently, I interviewed Emma Impink Kenya Spring ’09 for an alumni profile, and here is what she had to say on the subject: “I’ll never forget one day, when I was conducting interviews during my SFS Directed Research Project, a young man in Kuku Group Ranch asked me why I, an outsider, was doing this research when someone in the local community could do it more effectively. It was a surprising moment that challenged me to really think about my role in the world and the importance of facilitating local leadership and involvement in issues. It provoked an ongoing reflection on the role of ‘outsiders’ and the potential for community partnerships to address pressing development issues. I firmly believe that without local investment and engagement, even a well-meaning intervention cannot be sustained.” These are wise words indeed. And as for my local polluted site? A deal was finally been brokered to launch a million dollar clean-up project in the area. The forest was razed, soil and sediment were excavated and removed from the site, and fresh, uncontaminated sand and dirt were brought in. By April 2012, the digging and filling was complete, and workers began planting new trees and shrubs. The sign has been removed, and when I take an evening run, I pass green meadows and a lead-free salt marsh; its former polluted state is now just a memory. "Visit Sunny Chernobyl" was our second selection for SFS READS, our new book club! We do not have a formal meeting or membership, it’s just a chance for everyone in the SFS community to come together and exchange ideas. If you have some thoughts to share on “Visit Sunny Chernobyl,” please let us know in the comments! And let us know your ideas for our next book pick! [post_title] => Book Review: “Visit Sunny Chernobyl” [post_excerpt] => "Visit Sunny Chernobyl" was our second selection for SFS READS, our new book club! [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => book-review-visit-sunny-chernobyl [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:26 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:26 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2013/01/book-review-visit-sunny-chernobyl/ [menu_order] => 977 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 4148 [nid] => 3583 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 4148 ) [11] => Array ( [ID] => 4151 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2013-02-01 10:47:29 [post_date_gmt] => 2013-02-01 10:47:29 [post_content] => The post was published in Today @ Colorado State, here. Miranda Babcock-Krenk is a senior [at Colorado State University] majoring in Zoology. She studied with The School for Field Studies in Tanzania and Kenya during the Fall 2012 semester, and was a recipient of the Office of International Programs Undergraduate Study Abroad Scholarship, which helped fund her experience. "These past four months studying wildlife management in East Africa have taught me many things. I know how to shoot a bow and arrow, carry water on my head, and patch up a Maasai house with cow manure. I know how to distinguish wildebeest dung from cattle dung, tell if a male elephant is potentially aggressive, and how to remove snares set by poachers. I’ve learned to not settle for a marriage proposal unless it is at least 30 cows, to always chase away baboons that are trying to steal your potatoes, and that it is possible to make a real connection with someone even if you do not share the same culture, beliefs, or language. I can now untangle acacia bushes expertly, ask for directions in Swahili, and use a GPS. I’ve learned that African sunsets can take your breath away, that the glowing eyes of a hyena at night can be hauntingly beautiful, and that shared silence can be more meaningful than hours of conversation. Most importantly, I now know that I am capable of so much more than I ever thought and that I will always keep this experience close to my heart. As the director of our program told us on our last night in Kenya: 'Be happy, be good, and do good for others.' This is how I want to live my life and how I hope I can continue sharing my experience with others." Kwa heri, Miranda [post_title] => Alumna Reflects on Experience Abroad in East Africa [post_excerpt] => Miranda Babcock-Krenk is a senior at Colorado State University majoring in Zoology. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => alumna-reflects-on-experience-abroad-in-east-africa [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:26 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:26 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2013/02/alumna-reflects-on-experience-abroad-in-east-africa/ [menu_order] => 974 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 4151 [nid] => 3586 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 4151 ) [12] => Array ( [ID] => 4214 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2013-04-04 11:54:06 [post_date_gmt] => 2013-04-04 11:54:06 [post_content] => “I’ve never been a ‘road well-traveled’ type of person,” said Katlin Kraska. This adventurous attitude carried the DePauw University student to East Africa last spring to study wildlife management with The School for Field Studies (SFS). Soon, she will depart for Indonesia on a prestigious Fulbright award to explore mechanisms for improving community empowerment through the wildlife tourism industry. “The research experience I got with SFS was invaluable, and that is what I based much of my methodology on for my Indonesia project,” she said. Kraska will be conducting community-based surveys in the vicinity of Ujung Kulon, a wildlife reserve on the southwestern tip of Java which provides natural refuge for the Javan rhinoceros as well as other endemic primate and predatory species. She plans to ask local residents about the ways in which they interact with wildlife and how tourism benefits, or does not benefit, their daily life. She has always had a strong interest in animals, and in human-animal relationships and interactions, but her first exposure to wildlife tourism operating on a large scale was in East Africa. She joined the SFS Directed Research project on this topic, led by Professor John Mwamhanga, and had the chance to survey people living in the Tarangire-Manyara ecosystem of Tanzania on their perceptions of the wildlife tourism industry. “Some of the results were pretty astounding. One of the main questions that I asked was: do you think the government values people, wildlife, or both?” she said. “More than half thought that the government valued wildlife over people, and about a third said both….so only a small sector answered that people were the priority for the government.” Kraska noted that much of the tourism industry in that region of Tanzania is run by outside entrepreneurs that operate large, self-contained establishments. The money made does not make its way into the hands of the local community members, and thus, they do not perceive that they have a stake in conservation or preservation. “If anything,” she said, “they might come to dislike wildlife because the animals eat their crops and livestock.” Getting to know the thoughts and viewpoints of local residents, both through her research and daily life at the field station, was definitely a highlight for Kraska. At the end of the project, she presented her research to the local community – an experience she describes as “one of the most impactful moments” from her time abroad. “We did a short homestay on Easter, and I got along really well with my host family. I never thought I’d see them again, but then my host dad showed up to our research presentation. He doesn’t speak a lick of English and my Swahili was pretty terrible at that point, but just seeing him there and seeing how interested the whole community was in what we were doing, that showed me that our reciprocal relationship was real and genuine… I realized that people are the same anywhere you go. Cultures are different, traditions are different, practices are different, but people are people and that’s the bottom line.” Meet More SFS Alumni [post_title] => SFS Alumna Receives Fulbright Award [post_excerpt] => “The research experience I got with SFS was invaluable..." [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => sfs-alumna-receives-fulbright-award [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:26 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:26 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2013/04/sfs-alumna-receives-fulbright-award/ [menu_order] => 929 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 4214 [nid] => 3631 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 4214 ) [13] => Array ( [ID] => 4242 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2013-04-26 06:47:01 [post_date_gmt] => 2013-04-26 06:47:01 [post_content] => Happy Arbor Day! The simple act of planting trees can go a long way towards combating soil erosion, habitat loss, water quality degradation, and even climate change. On SFS programs around the world, students join with community members in both large and small-scale plantings of indigenous seeds and saplings. Enjoy these “before and after” photos from the paddock area of the SFS Center for Rainforest Studies in Australia. In the fall of 1993, SFS student Warren Goetzel snapped these images of his classmates as they planted 500 trees on a grassy hilltop. This now forest-covered area is nearly unrecognizable! Ciara Legato, Student Affairs Manager in Australia, revisited the spot twenty years later to capture its transformation. Here’s what she wrote: “We (Center Director Amanda Freeman and I) hiked out to where the planting was back in ‘93, and it looked COMPLETELY different. The forest is huge, and dense, and not that easy to photograph.” [post_title] => Warrawee Planting: 20 Years Later [post_excerpt] => Enjoy these “before and after” photos from the paddock area of the SFS Center for Rainforest Studies in Australia. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => warrawee-planting-20-years-later [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:26 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:26 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2013/04/warrawee-planting-20-years-later/ [menu_order] => 914 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 4242 [nid] => 3651 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 4242 ) [14] => Array ( [ID] => 4371 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2013-10-17 10:29:14 [post_date_gmt] => 2013-10-17 10:29:14 [post_content] => In honor of the 25th anniversary of the SFS Centre for Rainforest Studies in Australia, we reached out to our alumni to ask about some of their fondest memories from the Wet Tropics. We heard back from many, including Gwendolen Gross Australia Spring ’88, an accomplished novelist, who wrote: “A great adventure and much fodder for my first novel, Field Guide! I’ve published four more, but the world of Millaa Millaa will always be vivid in my memory.” In Field Guide, the main character Annabel Mendelssohn travels to North Queensland, Australia to study spectacled flying foxes at a research station not unlike SFS. She soon settles in to life among scientists in the rainforest – listening to the dawn chorus, avoiding leeches, and hiking past stinging trees. But her newfound tranquility is interrupted by the mysterious disappearance of her professor and mentor, Dr. John Goode. We recently interviewed Gwendolen to learn more about the intersections between her SFS experience and Field Guide. Why did you decide to study abroad with SFS in Australia? It was 1988, my junior year of college at Oberlin. I adored Oberlin, but was fascinated by the idea of field science. I'd always wanted to write about science—fancying, perhaps, a job as a National Geographic journalist—and I'd done quite a lot of backpacking and adventure —read: budget —travel. I picked up a brochure at a campus fair for programs abroad, and knew SFS was for me. It was later I learned I preferred an amalgam of invented and real world fiction to science journalism. How did the idea first come to you to set your novel at a field station, and in North Queensland in particular? I worked in textbook publishing after college—nursing and science textbooks—and did quite a bit of freelance writing for science supplements. Then I worked in children's books, and found a tiny ad in the San Diego free paper for a lunchtime Brown Bag writing workshop—and began writing poetry. This led to a wild outpouring of creative writing, and a fellowship with PEN West, and the realization that even if it wasn't exactly practical to get an MFA in writing, I had paid off the first round of student loans, and I had to give writing some serious attention. My very first novel, which lives in a drawer, was about a girl who would sing before she could speak. I could whistle before I could speak. But when I got to grad school, I was ready to write about the extraordinary place I had studied abroad. Millaa Millaa really was a character all its own. The story is rich in detail...describing the humidity, the flora and fauna, the national parks...but it was published in 2001, many years after your student experience. How did the memories stay so fresh? Lots of those details stayed with me—as details probably stay with anyone who lives an SFS adventure. It's such a different sensory experience. For me, writing is about relating the sensory world, sharing how things smell and taste and feel with someone else. As a reader, I want to taste and feel and hear, and suspend disbelief. Readers can live in the frame of the book, the invented, or captured world. I also had journals and notes, tons of notes, about the bats, on my waterproof paper! Do bats intrigue you as much as they do your main character? They do, they really do. I was hoping that Annabel could use bats as a lens to see herself--to see how we all live in colonies, whether in a group house in North Queensland or an apartment building in New York City. We're animals of space and community culture, of collective work and isolation at the same time. Competition and collaboration. In many ways, young adulthood is about understanding that, and understanding how we move from one family into the world of our next, chosen families. You have gone on to publish numerous books since Field Guide. Is the sense of place a defining characteristic in all your novels? I hope sense of place is important in each. After the first two books, Book Magazine dubbed me, "The Reigning Queen of Women's Adventure Fiction." I am very proud of that title, though my next books deal with other landscapes – the landscape of relationships. In The Other Mother, I explore the conflicts between a stay-at-home and working mom. In The Orphan Sister, I look at sisterhood. The latest, When She Was Gone, has a strong sense of place—but the characters create the place. With each book, I hope to always get closer to telling the truths of life—not the facts, but what seems truest to me, about how we relate to each other, how we connect, and how we miss. [post_title] => Alumni Profile: Gwendolen Gross [post_excerpt] => In honor of the 25th anniversary of the SFS Center in Australia, we reached out to alumni to ask about their fondest memories from the Wet Tropics. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => alumni-profile-gwendolen-gross [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:26 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:26 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2013/10/alumni-profile-gwendolen-gross/ [menu_order] => 809 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 4371 [nid] => 3751 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 4371 ) [15] => Array ( [ID] => 4474 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2014-03-24 04:00:31 [post_date_gmt] => 2014-03-24 04:00:31 [post_content] => Dr. Kate Mansfield TCI Spring’ 91 is a marine scientist and sea turtle biologist at the University of Central Florida. She and her team have recently published a paper in Proceedings of the Royal Society B on the whereabouts of baby sea turtles during their “lost years”—the time spent between hatching on the beach and adolescence, when they turn up again in the waters around the Azores and Madeira Islands. To track the tiny turtles through the open ocean, they developed a clever (and safe) solar-powered transmitter tag that allowed for long-term monitoring (of up to 220 days!). Satellite mapping showed fast speeds in the currents of the North Atlantic Subtropical Gyre and stop-offs in the Sargasso Sea. Read more on the study here. How did an SFS experience contribute to Kate’s education and her career as a marine biologist? Read our interview below! Why did you choose SFS as a study abroad program? I learn best when I'm not sitting at a desk or expected to regurgitate information. I knew I was interested in marine biology and management and wanted to get some hands-on experience. My college had a great Biology program, but at the time, they didn't offer classes that focused on marine science. SFS helped fill that gap! What is your most profound or lasting memory from your SFS program? I have so many memories from the SFS program on South Caicos! I used to really enjoy watching the ocean around the time of sunset when all of the spotted eagle rays would jump out of the water. Our class also had the fun opportunity to meet and interact with Jacques Mayol, the famous free diver. He brought his home movies to show the students and then would swim with us in the mornings (I think some of the students challenged him to a race, but he out-swam everyone). What did you gain from your SFS experience? Field skills. Aside from improving my SCUBA skills, I learned so many field sampling techniques, particularly underwater sampling techniques, which really helped me when I was applying for internships and jobs after college and even after I received my Master's degree. Are you professionally connected to other SFS folk? A couple of my collaborators on a turtle tagging project in Brazil were SFS instructors and interns on South Caicos after I was there as a student. Small world! What advice do you have for other SFS alumni looking to get into your field? Build up strong field (or laboratory) skills—this is what helps make you marketable to field-based programs. Gain "life experience", too. When considering taking on graduate students, I look for those who have more practical “outside of the classroom” experience. [post_title] => Alumni Profile: Kate Mansfield [post_excerpt] => Dr. Kate Mansfield (TCI Spring’ 91) is a marine scientist and sea turtle biologist at the University of Central Florida. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => alumni-profile-kate-mansfield [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:26 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:26 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2014/03/alumni-profile-kate-mansfield/ [menu_order] => 946 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 4474 [nid] => 3832 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 4474 ) [16] => Array ( [ID] => 4511 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2014-05-02 07:22:46 [post_date_gmt] => 2014-05-02 07:22:46 [post_content] => Congratulations to Colby Halligan of Elon University; Michelle Stuhlmacher of George Washington University; and Jenna Wiegand of Oregon State University. This August, these three recent SFS alumni will be presented the prestigious Udall Scholarship in honor of their commitment to careers in the environment, leadership potential, academic achievement, and record of public service. We commend your achievements! Continue below to read the scholars' profiles.
Name: Colby Halligan School: Elon University Major: Environmental Science SFS Program:  Kenya and Tanzania Fall 2013
I chose SFS Kenya and Tanzania for an adventure, for the opportunity to learn more about myself and my passions, and to explore a new culture and environment. I could not be more grateful for the opportunity to recognize my passion for nutrition in the developing world. My favorite memory of my SFS experience remains in the Serengeti as our safari car drove into the dusk. I remember thinking to myself, “I know how best to love those around me, and that’s by supplying good food to people in the world that need it.” My intention upon being awarded the Udall Fellowship is to obtain my MPH as a certified dietician and work to develop farm-plot nutrition plans for malnourished women and children. This summer, I will be interning on an organic farm in Tuscany through the Spannocchia Foundation, an organization focused on natural resource conservation, sustainable agriculture, and global dialogue. I am thrilled for the opportunity to help facilitate the empowerment of malnourished communities by sharing resources, knowledge, and enthusiasm.
Name: Michelle Stuhlmacher School: George Washington University Major: Geography SFS Program: Costa Rica Summer 2013
I was first drawn to The School for Field Studies because of the hands-on environmental curriculum. The summer program was a great chance for me to get research experience and see sustainability in action outside of the U.S. I chose the Costa Rica program because I am really interested in Latin American culture and the rainforests and biodiversity. For the Directed Research portion of the summer, I had the honor of being part of Dr. Achim Haeger's team. I gained a much better understanding of the research process because we were able to see how a research project began, go out into the field to collect data, and then analyze that data, run statistical tests, and write up our findings in a paper. Additionally, Dr. Haeger and I submitted an article that built off of the summer's research, and I am listed as a co-author. The article is still under review, but I am very excited about potentially being published as an undergraduate. This is a huge step in the right direction for my future education and career goals. This coming fall I plan on applying to geography Ph.D. programs. I want to research climate change adaptation and mitigation for my dissertation. Ultimately, I'd like to become a professor so I can both research and teach. Climate change will require a long-term solution so I think it is important to educate and inspire the next generation of students to study climate adaptation and mitigation.
Name: Jenna Wiegand School: Oregon State University Major: Business SFS Program: Turks & Caicos Islands Fall 2013
I am beyond excited for the opportunities this scholarship will give me and the Udall alumni group I'll be a part of. My experiences and life reflection as part of SFS were instrumental in changing my career goals and aspirations, and highlighted significantly in my application. With a growing interest and appreciation for sustainability, I was drawn to SFS as an opportunity to both deepen my understanding of ecology and to live out the sustainable practices I’d been learning so much about and aspired to implement. I wanted to shake up my lifestyle and broaden my worldview—and SFS delivered! The depth of what I learned hands-on in the environment and while working in the local community was beyond what I had expected, contributing to an indescribable experience. This remote island and the community there captured my heart and made me reevaluate my career aspirations in light of global problems that really matter: I now want to apply my business background to work in microfinance and focus on issues including poverty, conservation, inequitable climate change impacts, and third world development. During my time in South Caicos I learned that creating social change is hard: it’s hot, it’s dirty, it’s long hours, it’s full-on commitment. But the work is worth it—hugs and careworn smiles and local enthusiasm are just evidence of a community on the road to something better. [post_title] => Three SFS Alumni Named 2014 Udall Scholars [post_excerpt] => Congratulations to Colby Halligan of Elon University; Michelle Stuhlmacher of George Washington University; and Jenna Wiegand of Oregon State University. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => three-sfs-alumni-named-2014-udall-scholars [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:27 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:27 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2014/05/three-sfs-alumni-named-2014-udall-scholars/ [menu_order] => 918 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 4511 [nid] => 3857 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 4511 ) [17] => Array ( [ID] => 4626 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2014-10-10 05:00:20 [post_date_gmt] => 2014-10-10 05:00:20 [post_content] => This post was originally published on DePauw University's Live & Learn: The Hubbard Center Blog. Name: Casandra Brocksmith Off-Campus Study Program & Location: The School for Field Studies (SFS) Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) What did you study while off-campus?  Marine Resource Management How did you connect with your community off-campus?  SFS did a great job connecting us to the community during our time spent there.  Three days a week we were working with the community.  On Wednesdays we would travel to the local elementary school and help with an activity of our choice (PE class, in-class work, etc.)  Then on Saturdays the local community kids would come to our center and we would provide them with educational games and activities.  The focus of these activities was to educate the kids on the resources around them and how to appreciate and improve the conditions in their community.  On a weekend day we were placed with a family in the community who needed some kind of assistance, whether that be with their kids or to sit and spend time with an elderly woman.  My placement was to sit and spend time with the oldest lady on the island, who was 100 years old and still lived by herself.  Since South Caicos was a small island, the whole community really valued personal relationships and getting to know everyone who inhabited the island. As far as field research, we were constantly out in the field.  I took many of my exams out in the ocean on waterproof slate.  The program really emphasized the field research aspect and we were constantly out and about doing hands-on learning/research. What was your most memorable experience?  Wow, I would say it would be impossible to narrow it down to one specific experience.  I was lucky enough to have countless memorable experiences while abroad, but I will pick out one of my many favorites.  On Wednesdays and Saturdays we would go scuba diving in the mornings.  This gave us the opportunity for us to get a better look at all the different environments we were learning about in our classes.  It was always incredible, but this specific dive trumped the rest.  I descended 100 feet underwater that day with some of the best friends I have ever had (people I met on this program) and when we got to our depth I saw some of the coolest things.  We saw a few sharks on the dive, a pod of dolphins swam by, and a friendly little sea turtle was checking our group out.  I was ecstatic.  After ascending to the top and getting back on the boat we were all smiling ear to ear and couldn’t believe it.  A few moments later one of our professors pointed and exclaimed loudly, a migrating humpback whale and her baby were breaching in front of our boat.  The spring is the season when the whales and their new babies make the journey past South Caicos and up to Cape Cod.  Hands down the coolest day of my life.  We were all crying happy tears only because of all the amazing things we had just seen in such a beautiful place. What were you most apprehensive about with your off-campus study experience and how did you overcome it?  I was most apprehensive about being so far away from home for that long of a period of time.  I would not consider myself a huge homebody necessarily, but I had still not spent more than a month away from my family and definitely had never been 1,533 miles away.  The program was really conscience of this transition for us and was very helpful.  One of the first nights they spoke to us about how we would work through them.  Our student mentor met with us one-on-one as well just to talk to us individually and to address any concerns we may have had.  SFS keeps you so busy and you’re constantly learning about and doing amazing things, so I didn’t even have time to feel apprehensive about being away for that long of a time.  We were really submerged in the program and the community and I was having the time of my life.  It honestly flew by and by the time it was ready to go home I was more apprehensive about leaving to go home than I was to move away from home for studying abroad. How has off-campus study impacted your long-term plans, professionally or academically?  People say studying abroad changes your life and you truly do not understand it until you experience it yourself.  I grew in many different areas: personally, academically, professionally, and interculturally.  This program specifically challenges you in many of these areas, but this results in great growth.  I learned more about myself in that one semester than any other semester thus far.  This came from all the new learning experiences I had in this completely different culture.  Luckily for me, I gained 3 credits while abroad and 2 of them went toward my Biology major.  These classes were very difficult, but SFS is a hands-on program and everything is very applicable, which made it more desirable to learn about.  I learned a better studying technique as well as how to apply the material I was learning to bigger pictures. SFS also sets you up very well professionally.  I had to write my first scientific paper based on my own personal research.  The professors at my program were from all around the world like Ireland and England and they all had pursued Ph.D. s in the areas of study.  They provided us with a Q-and-A night and answered any questions we had about our next steps after college and offered to connect us with people who may be of help for us.  The opportunities and growth I have and will continue to have as an SFS alum are endless. [post_title] => Off-Campus Study Profile: Casandra Brocksmith [post_excerpt] => SFS did a great job connecting us to the community during our time spent there.  [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => off-campus-study-profile-casandra-brocksmith [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:27 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:27 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2014/10/off-campus-study-profile-casandra-brocksmith/ [menu_order] => 833 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 4626 [nid] => 3941 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 4626 ) [18] => Array ( [ID] => 4846 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2015-05-13 11:55:52 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-05-13 11:55:52 [post_content] => The Good Fight podcast (http://thegoodfight.fm) talks to marine biologist and SFS alumna Ayana Johnson (Turks & Caicos Islands Spring '01) about "big ocean problem-solving stuff."
[post_title] => Podcast: Using the Ocean Without Using It Up [post_excerpt] => The Good Fight podcast talks to marine biologist and SFS TCI alumna Ayana Johnson about "big ocean problem-solving stuff." [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => podcast-using-the-ocean-without-using-it-up [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:27 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:27 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2015/05/podcast-using-the-ocean-without-using-it-up/ [menu_order] => 683 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 4846 [nid] => 4124 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 4846 ) [19] => Array ( [ID] => 4902 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2015-09-03 09:00:55 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-09-03 09:00:55 [post_content] => Name: Kayt Colburn Education: Bachelor of Science, Sweet Briar College, 2011; Masters in GIS (Geographic Information Systems), University of Redlands, 2013 SFS Program: Kenya/Tanzania, Spring 2010 Current Position: GIS Developer Why did you choose SFS as a study abroad program? When I was an undergrad, I was thrilled to learn that as a science major I could study abroad without having to take a semester off and still earn credit in biology and environmental studies. I had dreamed about going to Africa my entire life, and the stars aligned as the perfect situation presented itself to me in the form of the Kenya/Tanzania semester. I hesitated for a moment between spending a semester abroad and doing lab research at my home university, but then my advisor turned to me and said: “How do you want to remember your college experience in 20 years, sitting in a lab all semester or going to Africa?” My advice to prospective students is: pack your bags and go! You are about to embark on the most important journey of your life. What is your favorite memory from your SFS program? My banda-mate Kaila and I spent the day with the most adorable mother of four who lived in a traditional house made of cow dung and mud. She cooked us the most phenomenal meal I’ve had in my life of ugali and beans and cabbage, and we helped her harvest corn that was planted by a previous group of SFS students and collect water from a pond for cleaning and cooking. She primarily spoke Maa and we had just begun our Swahili studies. We were able to connect with this woman and her children using what broken Swahili we knew between us, laughter, and hand gestures. There are countless other profound memories I have of my time in East Africa, but living as a Maasai for a day and befriending our host mama will always be with me. Second on that list was shaving my head with two other girls. We decided East Africa was too hot for a full head of hair, and the Kimana Market had a special on haircuts. What did you gain from your SFS experience? It’s hard to put into words everything that I gained from my experience at SFS. There are tangible skills I learned such as research methods for non-invasive behavioral studies, Swahili; and hands-on experience with communities faced with the realities, joys, and dangers of living with mega-fauna in their backyard. There are unforgettable experiences, such as traveling alone across the world for the first time, witnessing one of eight rhinos in Ngorongoro Conservation Area, watching a cheetah feast upon an impala she killed not 20 feet from our camp, hugging the orphans who are growing up next to the mural we painted in their playground, singing and dancing with the Maasai during a coming of age ceremony, and being lulled to sleep by the endless sounds of the Serengeti night. And then there are the things such as a new found appreciation for the convenience and luxury of clean running water and electricity, a heightened awareness of our disconnection from the natural world as modern Americans, and a sense that our roots as human beings run deep within each other and begin in Africa. What do you do for work? I am a GIS Developer for Oceaneering International in Houston, Texas. I do a lot of application development as well as data analysis for emergency response in the energy industry. Right now I am working on a disaster response and prevention application with the intention of preventing major environmental disasters from occurring in sensitive environments. This involves creating applications and databases that can go offline and collect and analyze data collected in the field that will determine where specialized equipment needs to be placed in order to prevent major disaster. Next month I will join several of my colleagues in testing this application in the field. We are installing the equipment on two boats and sailing out to a remote area, without Internet connection and very limited communication with shore base. Seeing this project come to fruition has been quite the feat, and I’m very proud of everyone I’ve worked with. When I return from the maiden voyage, I will have many more stories of success, that I am sure. What advice do you have for other SFS alumni looking to get into your field? I never thought I would be in the position that I’m in, I thought I would work for a lab or continue to do field work. But now I find myself working in an industry I was surprised fit in with my education and experience. My advice to fellow alumni is to not be afraid of the unknown. Remember the first time you stepped off the plane into the new country you would call home for the next few months. You took risks, you made new friends, and you did things you never thought possible. Approach your career that way -- go into the unknown, be willing to be surprised. And call in your favors -- utilize your network to its fullest potential. Sending in blind resumes is great, but never underestimate the power of a recommendation, and don’t be afraid to ask. Are you connected to other SFS alumni? I am professionally connected via the Linked In group, and every time I am in the hometown of one of the “cohorts”, I make my best effort to see them, hug them, and reminisce on the adventure of a lifetime. [post_title] => Alumni Profile: Kayt Colburn [post_excerpt] => My advice to prospective SFS students is: pack your bags and go! You are about to embark on the most important journey of your life. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => alumni-profile-kayt-colburn [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:27 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:27 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2015/09/alumni-profile-kayt-colburn/ [menu_order] => 642 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 4902 [nid] => 4169 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 4902 ) [20] => Array ( [ID] => 4962 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2015-10-15 09:38:45 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-10-15 09:38:45 [post_content] => Name: Theresa Wolfgang Education: BA (Zoology, Environmental Studies) from Ohio Wesleyan University SFS Program: Kenya/Tanzania Fall 2012 Why did you choose SFS as a study abroad program? Ever since I was in second grade I had a dream to go to Africa and see the animals I had read so much about. SFS allowed not only a chance for me to fulfill that dream, but also to study these animals in their natural habitats. A program like SFS that heavily emphasizes getting out of the classroom and venturing into the national parks as well as working with local communities was very appealing to me. Reflecting back on your time in the program, what did you gain from your SFS experience? My experiences with this program were numerous, invaluable, and life-altering. Perhaps my biggest take-away was the amazing attitudes and perspectives of local African people. The rural areas of Kenya and Tanzania in which we studied are inhabited primarily by people who have very little, yet conveyed extreme happiness and gratitude for what they did have. They have a saying, "There is no rush in Africa,” and I have tried to live by that mantra since leaving. The local people I encountered changed my perspective on my own life, and encouraged me to enjoy every single day and appreciate the little things. I learned a lot about myself during my months abroad as well. Having the opportunity to learn with students from all over the United States from local guides, who helped us as we interviewed farmers, has given me the confidence to go out on my own and work with new people. I was able to move across the country away from my family and friends to a new place where I knew no one for the job I have now without worrying about whether or not I would be lonely or unable to make new friends. What is your most profound or lasting memory from your SFS program? My first six weeks of the program were spent in Kenya. We lived down the road from Amboseli National Park, so we frequently went there for safaris for class. The purpose of one of our trips there was to participate in an annual census count of all the large mammals. We were given a quadrant of the park and six of us piled into a truck driven by our Swahili mwalimu (professor). We spent four hours driving around counting over 400 zebras, numerous elephants, and gazelles. As we drove back to the park headquarters, we jammed to music while taking in the beautiful landscape of Africa. While waiting for the other groups to return, we watched a Chelsea soccer game in a room full of every enthused, traditionally dressed Massai warriors. This was an amazing experience because we weren't just taking notes for class—we were actively helping the park and collecting real scientific data that could be used. And the dance party/safari on the ride back was pretty unforgettable. My second six weeks was spent in Tanzania. We were lucky enough to spend a week camping in tents on the plains of the Serengeti. Nothing separated us from the wildlife; we just had our trustee Askaris (night guards). The most vivid memory I have is from a morning safari during which we had to stop and sit in the middle of a road for thirty minutes because we were completely surround by hundreds of White-bearded Wildebeest. We were fortunate enough to be there during the great migration. It was an unbelievable experience to see that many animals in one of the most magical places on earth. What advice would you give to a prospective SFS student? GO! You will never have a chance to get so much experience with amazing people in such amazing places. When you do go, take advantage of every opportunity that presents itself while you are abroad—do not have any regrets that you missed out. Don't be afraid to get yourself out there and make friends with the locals, they will be the most interesting and friendliest people you will ever meet! What do you do for work? I am a primate keeper, which basically means I take care of about 5 different species of lesser apes, guenon, and lemurs. Every morning I feed the animals and clean their enclosures, train the animals for veterinary procedures, work on maintenance of exhibits, and educate the public as they hand feed our ring-tailed lemurs craisins on Lemur Island! Did your SFS experience contribute to where you ended up? My experience confirmed how much I loved animals and how much I wanted to work with them and learn as much as I could. Being a zookeeper has allowed me to spend everyday surrounded by species that remind me of my SFS trip. What advice do you have for other SFS alumni looking to get into your field? It is all about the experience in the zoo world. There are husbandry internships, and there are also internships that focus on training and research. The more versatile you are the better it looks to an employer. [post_title] => Alumni Profile: Theresa Wolfgang [post_excerpt] => Ever since I was in second grade I had a dream to go to Africa and see the animals I had read so much about. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => alumni-profile-theresa-wolfgang [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:27 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:27 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2015/10/alumni-profile-theresa-wolfgang/ [menu_order] => 601 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 4962 [nid] => 4220 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 4962 ) [21] => Array ( [ID] => 5000 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2015-11-17 10:59:56 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-11-17 10:59:56 [post_content] => Name: Aubrey Ellertson Education: BA, Biology, Franklin and Marshall College SFS Program: TCI Spring '10 Current Position: NOAA Northeast Fisheries Observer Program; Data Editor Since I completed my SFS program in 2010, I have been back to visit South Caicos several times. My most recent trip was February 2015, where I presented about being a Northeast Fisheries Observer for NOAA, and how to pursue a career in fisheries. When I graduated from college, I was hired as an at-sea monitor and northeast fisheries observer. I was one of about 200 observers in NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Observer Program, and one of nearly 1,000 observers nationwide. My job was to keep a record of everything that was brought on board the fishing boat, and everything that left it. In addition, I would document bycatch if there were any, location of catch, the weather, and ocean conditions. The data I collected helped scientists monitor the movement of fish in response to changing environmental conditions. Essentially I was trying to paint as complete a picture as possible, so that scientists could tell how each fish population was doing. I worked mainly on trawlers and gillnetters, and the trips I covered lasted anywhere from one day to two weeks. Out in the field my goal was to promote strong scientific backing, high data quality standards, objectiveness in collecting information, respect for the fishing community, and a high regard for all marine resources. As an observer I learned to work together, exercising open communication and cooperation to successfully achieve my objective. The observer/captain relationship can be a delicate one, since taking an observer is a mandatory requirement and fishing permit obligation. As a result, I had to adapt to every boat I went on, and ensure that I was able to do my job successfully without interfering with fishing operations. Working as an observer taught me to be an effective communicator and listener. Presently I am working as a Data Editor, working to maintain records on 11 of my individual fisheries observers and to track their performance. I review their raw electronic data, and paper logs for completeness and accuracy. I then contact each of my fisheries observers to verify inconsistencies, to try and solve any data quality issues that might arise, and to verify and check their species identification photos they submit. I also check in age samples (otoliths (ear bones), scales, and monkfish vertebrae). In addition to my every day responsibilities, I am very involved in the outreach department within the Northeast Fisheries Observer Program. I travel often for our kiosk outreach events, as well as visit different fishing ports to do dock work and educate fishermen about our program, or about new protocols that are coming into place. Without a doubt, I would not be where I am today if it was not for SFS and my experiences in Turks and Caicos. While on South Caicos, my research was on establishing a baseline information guide for fisheries management on the finfish dock landings, and in particular if Nassau grouper were being speared below the age of sexual maturity. This experience was particularly important to my growth and development because it was my first opportunity to interact with fishermen in what I would consider a male-dominated society. I gained a lot of field experience, but also how to communicate effectively. I have enormous ties to the fishing community on South Caicos, and I continually feel a very strong connection to the individuals that made their livelihoods from the sea. Those experiences contributed to my current involvement in New England fisheries, and to my work as a fisheries observer out on commercial fishing boats. When I visited the Center in February 2015, I had the opportunity to go gillnetting for lemon sharks, and it was truly a remarkable experience I will never forget! I was also able to snorkel the new lobster casitas (houses), and check for juvenile lobsters. I was glad to see that community engagement is as important as ever, and that the time students spend with community members has actually increased. Lastly, I came home with a potcake this trip! Potcakes are the name given to dogs of the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Islands. It came about because the locals fed the caked remains of the cooking pot to the dogs. They are truly a remarkable breed both smart, loyal and loving pets. I would never have had Savannah today if not for the help of SFS staff at the Center, and Potcake Place in Providenciales. [post_title] => Alumni Profile: Aubrey Ellertson [post_excerpt] => Without a doubt, I would not be where I am today if it was not for SFS and my experiences in Turks and Caicos. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => alumni-profile-aubrey-ellertson [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:27 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:27 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2015/11/alumni-profile-aubrey-ellertson/ [menu_order] => 568 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 5000 [nid] => 4249 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 5000 ) [22] => Array ( [ID] => 5061 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2016-01-22 08:23:11 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-01-22 08:23:11 [post_content] => More than 16,500 students have participated in our programs, and our alumni frequently tell us that SFS ignited passion and direction for their careers. SFS alumni are environmental leaders in the worlds of academia, activism, business, and government. We asked several SFS alumni: "What advice do you have for students who are looking to get into your field?" Here is their insight. Have advice of your own? Share in the comments below!

David Bennett (SFS Mexico Summer '97), Sustainability and Innovation Consultant

Pursue work that you truly love doing. There’s so much good work that needs be done in the world and there are endless industries that you can be a part of in order to effect the change that you want to see in the world. Someone once asked me, "What is it that you can’t NOT do?" I think that asking yourself that question is one good way of figuring out your passions because that question forces you to examine the things in life that you feel compelled to accomplish in life. Once you know what those pursuits are and can begin working towards them, I think you’ll find a great sense of accomplishment personally and professionally.

Emma Impink (SFS Kenya Spring '09), Program Support @ One Acre Fund

If you are an alum interested in getting into grassroots sustainable development, I say, try something that might not sound exactly like what you’re looking for… you never know how you can integrate your knowledge to address a new challenge!

Jeffery Flocken (SFS Kenya Summer '90), Policy Officer @ International Fund for Animal Welfare

Without a doubt, I got where I am today because I am passionate and committed to wildlife conservation. I always knew what I wanted to do, and I pursued it with vigor, taking advantage of every opportunity to learn more about the field and meet people involved in it. For anyone interested in pursuing a career path like mine, I advise you to network aggressively and don’t be afraid to take chances. And most importantly, take advantage of every opportunity to get out into the field and see the animals you are working to protect. That is what keeps you motivated!

Theresa Wolfgang (SFS Kenya/Tanzania Fall '12), Primate Keeper @ Tanganyika Wildlife Park

It is all about the experience in the zoo world. There are husbandry internships, and there are also internships that focus on training and research. The more versatile you are, the better it looks to an employer.

Kayt Colburn (SFS Kenya/Tanzania Spring '10), GIS Developer @ Oceaneering International

I never thought I would be in the position that I’m in, I thought I would work for a lab or continue to do field work. But now I find myself working in an industry I was surprised fit in with my education and experience. My advice is to not be afraid of the unknown. Remember the first time you stepped off the plane into the new country you would call home for the next few months. You took risks, you made new friends, and you did things you never thought possible. Approach your career that way—go into the unknown, be willing to be surprised. And call in your favors—utilize your network to its fullest potential. Sending in blind resumes is great, but never underestimate the power of a recommendation, and don’t be afraid to ask.

Kate Mansfield (SFS Turks & Caicos Islands Spring '91), Marine Scientist @ University of Central Florida

Build up strong field (or laboratory) skills—this is what helps make you marketable to field-based programs. Gain "life experience," too. When considering taking on graduate students, I look for those who have more practical "outside of the classroom" experience.

Rob Holmes (SFS Kenya Fall '90), Founder @ GLP Films

Work hard, follow your passion, and do whatever it takes to get there. And you’ve got to be patient. I got excellent advice along the way, like the importance of networking, being curious, and asking questions. Before I went to grad school, I sat down with a few friends of my father who were in business. The common advice was to go into sales to teach yourself how to communicate, articulate, persuade, and get out of difficult situations. Communication skills are so important.

Tania Taranovski (SFS Australia Spring '92), Sustainable Seafood Programs Manager @ New England Aquarium

Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and take chances. It’s tempting upon graduation to feel like you must have a job that will start paying the bills right away, or that you must start the right graduate school immediately to get ahead. No time in the next 20 years will it be easier to just explore and take chances. And live simply, like you did during your SFS experience. It will remind you of what is really important. → Read SFS Alumni Profiles → Explore SFS Programs [post_title] => Environmental Professionals Share Career Advice [post_excerpt] => SFS alumni working in the environmental field answer the question: "What advice do you have for students who are looking to get into your field?" [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => environmental-professionals-share-career-advice [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:28 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:28 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2016/01/environmental-professionals-share-career-advice/ [menu_order] => 532 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 5061 [nid] => 4283 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 5061 ) [23] => Array ( [ID] => 5062 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2016-01-26 08:06:12 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-01-26 08:06:12 [post_content] => Name: Ben Goldfarb Education: Amherst College, BA English/Environmental Studies; Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Masters in Environmental Management SFS Program: Australia Fall 2007 Current Position: Freelance Journalist Why did you choose SFS as a study abroad program? Unlike most SFS students, I completely lacked scientific experience — let alone field experience — when I applied in 2007. I was an English major, and my only exposure to ecology was the occasional book by E.O. Wilson or David Quammen. Still, I loved the outdoors and particularly wildlife, and I longed to surround myself in nature (maybe I’d read too much Thoreau). SFS Australia was the most remote study-abroad program I could find. I’m proof that, with some intellectual curiosity and hard work, you can succeed at SFS no matter your academic background. Reflecting back on your time in the program, what did you gain from your SFS experience? First, I gained familiarity with all kinds of vital scientific concepts: the ecological perils of habitat fragmentation and isolation; the value of wildlife corridors; the process of forest succession, and so on. I also became part of a wonderful like-minded community, and made friendships that I still value today. Perhaps most importantly, however, I came to understand the fundamentals of research, and developed a profound appreciation for the mental and sometimes physical rigor that goes into conducting a field study or experiment. I think laypeople — and I was certainly a layperson before SFS — think of science as something that happens in hygienic labs flooded with fluorescent light, conducted by people wearing white coats and latex gloves. I discovered that many scientists are more comfortable decked out in rain pants, covered in mud, and wielding a wrench. Setting up a study requires all kinds of problem-solving skills, many of them mechanical — how do you attach this radio-tag? measure this transect? fix the coffeemaker at 3 am? — and the best scientists have a good bit of engineer in them. As someone who writes about scientists every day, I’ve benefited from being able to talk intelligently and empathetically about just how dang hard fieldwork can be. What is your most profound or lasting memory from your SFS program? For my final project, I took part in a study that examined how bats use rainforest habitat. The fundamental challenge, of course, is that bats are nocturnal; lacking a budget for radio-tags, how the heck do you follow a bat through a pitch-black jungle at 2 am? Jess Wallace, our professor, devised an ingenious solution: Using a biodegradable adherent, we stuck tiny green glowsticks to the backs of captive bats, then turned them loose. Picture a half-dozen 20-year-olds charging through dense rainforest, their eyes fixed on a tiny green speck bobbing in utter blackness, their headlamp beams swinging wildly in pursuit, vaulting over red-bellied black snakes and dodging stinging trees, shouting out “canopy!” or “understory!” to another student striving desperately to simultaneously record data and keep up, everyone drenched in mud and pin-cushioned with thorns. It was beautiful, delirious mayhem. I’d never had so much fun. What do you do for work? I’m a freelance journalist who covers science and the environment, with a focus on wildlife conservation and fisheries management. I’ve written for a variety of publications, including Scientific American, Orion Magazine, High Country News, The Guardian, Earth Island Journal, and many others. In the last couple years I’ve covered enough species to fill a zoo — grizzly bears, salmon, wolverines, salamanders, bison, beavers, sea turtles, and lamprey, to name a few. It’s a blast. What does that actually entail on a daily basis? I spend my days trolling through the scientific literature, combing the tsunami of press releases that crash in my inbox, and perusing local newspapers in search of important stories the national press is missing. Primarily I’m looking for new studies or topics that might pique the interest of my editors and readers. I don’t do a lot of straight “gee-whiz” science reporting; much as I revere the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake, I prefer covering research with practical applications — for instance, how might this new technique for extracting DNA from scat help us protect mountain lions? I often have the opportunity to accompany scientists or government officials into the field; in the past year, my reporting has taken me to Alaska, Montana, Olympic National Park, Lake Tahoe, the Grand Canyon, and the Bahamas. You can learn a lot over the phone; still, nothing beats a high-quality field experience. Photo by Geoff Giller. Did your SFS experience contribute to where you ended up? Absolutely! In college, I knew I wanted to write; like many wandering English majors, however, I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to write about. SFS inspired my passion for biodiversity conservation and helped me channel my journalistic ambitions in a particular direction. Cheesy though it sounds, my path was settled a couple weeks into my SFS experience, the moment I first held a bat — its body warm, soft, trembling, and impossibly fragile in my hands. In that instant, I understood the true meaning of conservation — that animals are beings of flesh and blood, not just abstract numbers on a graph or providers of vague “ecosystems services” — and I knew that in some capacity I would devote my life to wildlife. In 2013, I received a grant from the Solutions Journalism Network to write a series of stories about the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative, or Y2Y, a 2,000-mile-long wildlife corridor that link up parks and protected areas throughout the Northern Rockies. The concept that underpins Y2Y — that isolated parks can’t meet the ecological needs of many species, and that corridors between habitat patches can help creatures migrate, mate, find food, and connect with other sub-populations — was one that I learned about during my time at SFS. I vividly recall touring the properties of dairy ranchers and seeing these thin strips of green, often following riparian areas, that ran from one forest patch to another. The concept captured my imagination, and upon my return to college I set about researching other wildlife corridors, including Y2Y. Six years later, that long-term fascination became a grant and a two-month reporting trip through the Northern Rockies. Subsequently, I published stories about habitat connectivity in Orion Magazine, Earth Island Journal, Modern Farmer, Medium, Conservation Magazine, and other outlets. Reflecting upon those stories, I’m struck by how SFS shaped and informed them. Yes, I’m writing about grizzly bears on the prairies of Alberta and wolverines in the mountains of Montana, but I’m deploying fundamental conservation principles that I first encountered applied to cassowaries and tree kangaroos in Australian rainforest. Are you professionally connected to other SFS folk? Yes! Back in 2014, I was writing a story about salmon habitat restoration in the Columbia River Basin, and a couple of biologists took me out to see some projects in the Deschutes River. We went to inspect a fish weir manned by a few technicians, one of whom looked vaguely familiar from afar. Which she lifted her head, I realized that she was a fellow SFSer who’d collaborated on the bat project in Australia. To the confusion of the other biologists, we embraced on the riverbank, marveling at the serendipity of it all. Over dinner she offered some invaluable wisdom that helped inform the story. Hopefully those kinds of propitious coincidences will become more common as my SFS friends depart graduate school and advance through the ranks of academia and conservation. What advice do you have for other SFS alumni looking to get into your field? For starters, read constantly — not just scientific studies, but ecology’s representation in popular literature. Caroline Fraser’s Rewilding the World, David Quammen’s Song of the Dodo, and Jon Mooallem’s Wild Ones are indispensable additions to any conservation writer’s book shelf. It’s true that the current media landscape is a challenging one — rates are low, newspapers are dying, and myriad writers are competing for the same gigs. At the same time, the web has allowed an incredible diversity of new publications to flourish, all of which are hungry for new writers. (For details on how to break into those magazines and journals, check out a blog post I wrote in 2015 for Canadian Science Publishing.) If you’re a scientist yourself, consider starting out by writing op-eds and dispatches about your own research, and the work of your friends, perhaps in a campus publication; then parlay those writing samples, or “clips” — your currency as a writer — into an internship or additional freelancing opportunities. It’s not the easiest career path in the world, but it’s among the most rewarding — and heck, the academic job market is pretty tough too! Science writing is certainly in flux, but in some ways there’s never been a more exciting time to break in. Finally, if you’re a recent alumni seeking writing advice, or an older one interested in gaining some thoughtful, conscientious media coverage for your research, or if you just want to chat about media and conservation you can reach me at ben.a.goldfarb@gmail.com, or on Twitter at @ben_a_goldfarb. Looking forward to hearing from you! [post_title] => Alumni Profile: Ben Goldfarb [post_excerpt] => SFS inspired my passion for biodiversity conservation and helped me channel my journalistic ambitions in a particular direction. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => alumni-profile-ben-goldfarb [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:28 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:28 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2016/01/alumni-profile-ben-goldfarb/ [menu_order] => 531 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 5062 [nid] => 4284 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 5062 ) [24] => Array ( [ID] => 5214 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2016-08-04 08:57:39 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-08-04 08:57:39 [post_content] => Name: Claudia Polsky Education: B.A. Harvard University; M. Appl. Sc. Lincoln University, New Zealand; J.D. UC Berkeley Law SFS Program: Acid Rain & Limnology, Adirondacks (NY State), Summer 1983; Volcanic Geology, Mt. Vesuvius (Italy), Summer 1984 Current Position: Director, Environmental Law Clinic at UC Berkeley School of Law Why did you choose SFS as a study abroad program? I was drawn to the summer programs that SFS offered because I wanted to try environmental field science. I had always loved science, and loved the outdoors, but had never had the opportunity to combine the two by studying and doing empirical scientific work in the real world rather than a school lab. Reflecting back on your time in the program, what did you gain from your SFS experience? I gained so much from my SFS programs that it’s hard to know where to begin. I not only learned an enormous amount of science, but I found that I really retained it, because it was so grounded in direct, multi-sensory experiences: when I think about lake acidification, I remember trying to do accurate titrations with leaves falling into our sample beakers, and fighting to get an accurate water visibility reading with a secchi disc from a wind-tossed inflatable boat. When I think about dodecahedral crystal forms in volcanic rocks at Mount Vesuvius, I remember how those hot black volcanic rocks also helped us melt fresh mozzarella and tomatoes for our incredible rustic lunches atop the volcano. I also learned a huge amount from my fellow students. In particular, during the SFS program I did right after high school, I became close friends with two older female geology majors, whose influence steered me to study geology in college. What is your most profound or lasting memory from your SFS program? From my program studying acid rain in the Adirondack Mountains of New York, I remember a lesson on aquatic chemistry that we had while dangling our feet in a clear mountain stream. Talking about pH and various rocks’ differential buffering capacity with our toes in the relevant ecosystem really made an impression on me, and I think also helped me grasp some new chemistry concepts. From my program studying the explosive patterns of Mount Vesuvius to help predict future eruptions, I remember an extraordinary night our crew spent atop the active volcano Stromboli, recording its eruptive frequency, but mostly just being awed by the beauty and miracle of watching fiery eruptions up close against a pitch-black sky. I can still hear the sizzle of the lava as it slid downslope to its quenching in the Mediterranean. What advice would you give to a prospective SFS student? Throw yourself into everything – the physicality of the projects (some of ours were quite strenuous), the difficulty of the journal articles you’ll read, the diversity of your team mates, the language of the country you visit. There are few things you will do in life that will give you the opportunity to learn and stretch across so many dimensions at once. Tell us more about your career in environmental law. What accomplishments are you most proud of? I’ve spent my whole career as an environmental professional, with the past 20 years of it as an environmental lawyer working for nonprofits and government agencies. Over the past decade I’ve been deeply involved in helping California develop a regulatory system for addressing toxic chemicals in consumer products. My involvement has taken many forms, from living room strategy sessions with environmental activists to a stint directing a Pollution Prevention and Green Chemistry program at our state toxics agency. The part I most enjoyed, however, was working with a team of scientists, lawyers, and policymakers over a couple-year period to draft a complex and comprehensive set of product regulations and try to make them as defensible as possible in light of anticipated industry attack. I felt like we were charting new and important ground, doing something that was both intellectually and practically challenging, and had real-world impact. This spring, Congress finally overhauled the very outdated Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976; this was an implicit recognition that California and other states had gotten way ahead of our national government in addressing toxics exposures. During the same period that I was working on macro-level toxics issues, I was pursuing a variety of legal angles to address a very specific exposure threat: the emission of semi-volatile chemical flame retardant chemicals from upholstered furniture, which are known carcinogens and also increasingly demonstrated to be neurotoxins, and turn out to be one of the big indoor air quality threats in our homes. I was ultimately able to both advise the California agency that promulgates fire retardancy standards as it reworked its regulations to obviate the need for manufacturers to include toxic flame retardants in household furniture, and to represent that agency in litigation to defend its new regulations successfully in the face of challenge from the flame retardant industry. In late 2015, I was able to buy a couch for my new office that was among the first couches sold since the mid-1970s in my state that did not contain toxic flame retardants. I feel victorious every time I sit on it! And grateful for the opportunity to work on issues that affect human health and the environment very directly. I now direct the Environmental Law Clinic at UC Berkeley School of Law, where I’m helping to train a next generation of environmental public interest and public-sector lawyers. Clinical law teaching involves a combination of academic instruction and hands-on legal projects for real clients. In that way, it’s very much like SFS – experiential rather than abstract learning. In a given day, I might teach a seminar on persuasive legal writing, meet with student teams working on projects related to water pollution or global warming, and then work on a conference presentation related to toxic chemical exposures, which is one of my main areas of expertise. Did your SFS experience contribute to where you ended up? Very directly. SFS definitely deepened my environmental issue knowledge, interest, and career commitment. But as important, it made clear to me that although I’m fascinated by science, I don’t actually enjoy empirical scientific work – when I read scientific journal articles, I am always interested in the abstract and the conclusions, but really glaze over reading about methods. Figuring out through SFS that I wanted to have an environmental career that involved working on science-intensive issues and working with scientific experts, but not do the science myself, was very helpful in steering me towards a career in environmental law and policy. Are you still connected to other SFS folk? Yes, I’ve maintained close friendships with two tent-mates from my SFS summers: we are still in touch after 30 years, and have enriched each others’ lives in many ways. What advice do you have for other SFS alumni looking to get into your field? Environmental work is incredibly varied, and all of its variants are necessary to confront the daunting planetry challenges before us. Along the route to becoming an environmental lawyer, I seriously considered environmental science and environmental journalism, and also spent several years doing land conservation work for The Nature Conservancy. It may take some experimentation to figure out where the tasks you like to do, the skills you have, and the type of impact you’d like to make all converge; programs like SFS are fantastic for letting you explore a number of permutations and find a good fit. → Meet More SFS Alumni [post_title] => Alumni Profile: Claudia Polsky [post_excerpt] => Alumna Claudia Polsky (New York Summer '83; Italy Summer '84) has spent the last 20 years of her career working as an environmental lawyer for nonprofits and government agencies. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => alumni-profile-claudia-polsky [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:28 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:28 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2016/08/alumni-profile-claudia-polsky/ [menu_order] => 416 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 5214 [nid] => 4407 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 5214 ) [25] => Array ( [ID] => 5279 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2016-10-26 08:38:15 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-10-26 08:38:15 [post_content] => Name: Bronwyn Llewellyn Education: B.A. Biology, Mount Holyoke College; Master of Environmental Management, Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University SFS Program: SFS Kenya Spring ‘03 Current Position: Foreign Service Officer with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Why did you choose SFS as a study abroad program? I wasn’t planning on studying abroad at all. I’d grown up overseas so didn’t feel I really needed the “international experience” and I was on a pre-vet track, which meant there were very few programs that offered the transferable science credits I would need to meet all the requirements. However, on the night of the study abroad fair on campus, I was hosting a prospective student and I offered to take her on a tour. When we reached the campus center, we popped into the fair for a few minutes. I will never forget turning the corner and seeing the big display with the photo of the giraffes silhouetted against the setting sun. I chatted with the SFS rep, and looked through the brochure and was immediately drawn to the Kenya program. Not only did it offer transferable science credits so I could still stay on the pre-vet track, the course description was exactly what I wanted to do with my life! Reflecting back on your time in the program, what did you gain from your SFS experience? SO much!!! One of the most critical things I gained was an understanding of all the different career paths open to me. I had always been passionate about conservation, but only knew two ways I could pursue it – through research (PhD route) or, if I wanted to be hands on with wildlife, as a veterinarian (although I knew the chances of actually getting to work with wildlife were minuscule). Through the program I had the chance to meet so many people working on conservation from so many different walks of life! Sure there were vets and researchers, but there were also experts working for the big donors, such as the US government or World Bank, there were folks working for International NGOs, the UN, and local groups, and even diplomats engaged in conservation work. I also learned there were so many different ways to work on conservation, whether that be through fund-raising, community engagement, policy interaction, law enforcement, or park management. When I returned to my college I started to research graduate programs that would get me where I wanted to be, and discovered there were actually a lot! What is your most profound or lasting memory from your SFS program? There are many striking memories, but one of the most important was of sitting up on top of a huge outcropping of rocks listening to a lecture from one of our professors. He used the whole landscape behind him as his prop – no need for maps or PowerPoint when you could just point to the feature you are talking about! That perspective helped me see how everything is interconnected, and helped lead me into my later focus on Conservation Ecology – a discipline where you try to understand the bigger picture and how everything fits together with an eye to how best to conserve your target species or ecosystem. What advice would you give to a prospective SFS student? GO FOR IT!! The program will challenge you and shape you, and you will never be the same again… but you will never look back! What do you do for work? I am a Foreign Service Officer with the United States Agency for International Development. USAID is the lead U.S. Government agency that works to end extreme global poverty and enable resilient, democratic societies to realize their potential. USAID carries out U.S. foreign policy by promoting broad-scale human progress at the same time it expands stable, free societies, creates markets and trade partners for the United States, and fosters good will abroad. USAID works in many sectors, including health, agriculture, democracy and governance, education, and environment. USAID’s environment programming covers a wide swath of issues from environmental compliance (making sure our other projects do not have negative environmental or social impacts), to urban planning, to water management, to energy production, to forestry, to climate change mitigation and adaptation, to biodiversity conservation. As a USAID Environment Officer, I am the technical lead responsible for designing and managing programming that addresses these issues. I just left Nepal, where I was the Environment Team Leader, and am currently the Natural Resource Management and Water Team Leader for USAID/Tanzania. I lead a staff of four other technical experts in climate change, water sanitation and hygiene, community conservation, and wildlife trafficking to manage a series of activities that aim to help Tanzania better manage their natural resources, including wildlife, forests, and water to the greater benefit of the Tanzania people and the preservation of those resources for future generations. What does that actually entail on a daily basis? Generally speaking, a lot of emailing, meetings, and report writing! As a steward of taxpayer dollars I spend a lot of my time ensuring that our money is being used efficiently and effectively, and reporting back to congress what is happening. Of course, to do that well, I do have to get out to the field regularly to see first-hand what is happening on the ground! All the tedious meetings and hours on the computer become worth it when you are riding on the back of an elephant to see a grassland restoration project in Nepal and almost literally stumble over a tiger. Or you get to participate in an exercise to put satellite collars on Rhinos.Or you talk to a group of women in a marginalized community who are now making five times their previous annual salary through an activity that is also helping restore hundreds of hectares of forest. I also get to fund cutting-edge research, such as using DNA to track tigers, and meet with top scientists and explorers to learn what they are doing and see how we can include it in our programming. Some people would prefer to be the researcher, or the person on the ground implementing the project, but I love having my bird’s eye view of the issues (going back to my memory of the lecture at SFS!). I have the opportunity to see the whole system, and work with local policy makers, implementers, and other donors, like other Embassies or the UN, to decide the strategic direction for conservation in the country, and potentially identify and fill important gaps. Designing the next generation of projects is probably my favorite part of the job. Describe an interesting project you’ve worked on in your career. In Nepal, USAID’s biggest project is called “Hariyo Ban”, which means “Green Forest” in Nepali. It covers an enormous swath of the country, including two landscapes: the Terai – the flat plains at the foot of the Himalayas where the rhinos and tigers live, and the Kali Gandaki River basin – which connects the high Himalayas to the Terai. Hariyo Ban has a budget of nearly $50 million USD ($40 million from USAID and $10 million in matching funds) over 5 years. Climate change is an enormous problem in Nepal, where the effects are visible and tangible. Within the Kali Gandaki basin you have the dual problems of glaciers disappearing, leaving mountain communities without access to water, and increased flooding from changing Monsoon patterns in the lowlands. Compounding all this is steadily rising temperatures, driving species up stream in search of cooler climates. Unfortunately the Kali Gandaki has not been historically managed to help facilitate connectivity between protected areas, and there are lots of gaps in the forest. Also, the poorest of the poor – landless marginalized groups – are almost entirely reliant on the forest for survival, and their few other livelihoods options are extremely vulnerable to climate change. Enter Hariyo Ban. One of the virtues of having a large project is that you can take a comprehensive look at a landscape, even one as vast as the Kali Gandaki Basin. They identified areas where there were bottlenecks to biodiversity connectivity as well as where the most vulnerable people lived. Not surprisingly most of these are the same areas! There they work with Nepali Government Officials, community forest user groups, local decision makers, and the poor themselves to find ways to regrow forest, pull people out of poverty, and improve local community access and management of forest resources. It sounds like a tall order, but they have been extremely successful! Did your SFS experience contribute to where you ended up? Absolutely! I didn’t have a clear understanding of what my options were for working in international conservation before Kenya. My time at SFS really opened my eyes to what I could do, and how, and led me to pursue my Masters of Environmental Management. It also more directly led to me getting my first job with World Wildlife Fund – my on-the-ground experience in East Africa was considered a major plus to the hiring committee. After my first Washington DC based WWF contract ended I got another offer to work on the Coastal East Africa initiative, a project that covered Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique. Again, the fact that I had lived in Kenya previously was a huge help in convincing my bosses that I was up for the job. The WWF experiences paved the way for me to join USAID, so you could say I first stepped foot on my path to being a diplomat when I stepped off that plane in Kenya! Are you professionally connected to other SFS folk? Yes! At my first job at WWF, there were a number of people who had attended different SFS sessions, and I’ve also run into a few within USAID. I’m also connected to all of my SFS classmates, and they are all doing amazing things – many directly linked to their time in Kenya. What advice do you have for other SFS alumni looking to get into your field? What do you wish someone told you? I took a fairly straight path from SFS to where I am now. I didn’t take a break between undergrad and grad school, and my career since grad school has steadily built until here. If I could do it again, I probably wouldn’t change anything in terms of what I studied, but I might have taken a bit more time. Peace Corps would have been a fantastic option post undergrad to get more international experience, and to take a bit of a mental break from academia. My other piece of advice is that the Masters of Environmental Management degree that I got at Duke (and there are many similar programs around the country) is really perfect for this kind of work. While you study a lot of hard science as part of the degree, the purpose is not to pursue the science yourself, but to be able to understand it and interpret it for decision and policy makers. You also, in turn, learn how to understand policy and interpret it for practitioners. This skill is extremely valuable whether you work for an NGO, a government organization, or a company, either in the US or overseas. Note: The contents of this blog are the responsibility of Bronwyn Llewellyn and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government. [post_title] => Alumni Profile: Bronwyn Llewellyn, USAID [post_excerpt] => Bronwyn Llewellyn, SFS Kenya Spring '03, describes how her SFS experience has influenced her life and career so far. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => alumni-profile-bronwyn-llewellyn-usaid [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:28 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:28 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2016/10/alumni-profile-bronwyn-llewellyn-usaid/ [menu_order] => 369 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 5279 [nid] => 4457 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 5279 ) [26] => Array ( [ID] => 5375 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2017-03-17 10:07:11 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-03-17 10:07:11 [post_content] => Name: Anna Menke Education: Princeton University, BA in Anthropology, minor in Environmental Studies SFS Program: Costa Rica Summer 2014 Current Position: Fellow, Environmental Defense Fund Why did you choose SFS as a study abroad program? I chose the SFS Costa Rica program because it was a perfect marriage of my interests in international development, environmental sustainability, and Latin American culture. As a varsity athlete at Princeton I was not able to study abroad during the school year, but it was something I really wanted to do. SFS was a perfect opportunity to use my summer to complement my studies while also exploring a new place. Reflecting back on your time in the program, what did you gain from your SFS experience?? I gained tangible field research skills that helped me build my resume for the internship I would apply to the following summer. I also gained a deep passion for Latin American culture and an affirmed sense that sustainability and environmental policy were areas I wanted to continue to focus on, both academically and in my work, going forward. The other intangible thing I gained was some really close friendships. I still keep in good touch with one friend from SFS and intermittently catch up with other friends from the program. The program broadened my network outside of Princeton, which I am very thankful for. What is your most profound or lasting memory from your SFS program? Our class spent three days in the small rural town of El Sur, Costa Rica. During the time, we conducted research for our final independent papers. I had elected to research a social science question about internal human migration and urbanization due to environmental changes. I conducted interviews and administered surveys. I have some very distinct memories of the local people I talked to and the profound curiosity I had for learning about other people’s perception of and interaction with their environment. I didn’t realize it at the time, but this was the beginning of me figuring out why the environment was uniquely interesting to me. I cared about human interactions with the environment. What advice would you give to a prospective SFS student? Go! My experience at SFS gave me so much confidence, independence and perspective on the world outside my small college bubble. That being said, going for an SFS program isn’t enough. Push yourself beyond the bounds of your comfort zone while you are there, if you just hang out with other students in the program you are missing an opportunity. Get to know people who live and work in the area. Work hard - don’t just aim to get by. Appreciate the opportunity to be somewhere else, it is one not everyone has. What do you do for work? I work for the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) on the EDF+Business team. My boss and I are working to engage leading US corporations in federal climate and energy policy issues. Our aim is to motivate US companies to advocate for climate and energy policy. Our theory of change is predicated on the belief that in order to overcome the argument that climate policies will hurt the economy, we need to get the biggest drivers of our economy to verbalize their support for these policies, framing climate policy as a solution in which both the economy and the environment can thrive. Currently, my boss and I work with a broad range of fortune 500 companies engaging them in various conversations and advocacy efforts. A lot my work day to day involves researching these corporations and their past history with and positioning on climate and clean energy policies. This includes understanding their lobbying giving to various lawmakers and PACs, their presence in various trade associations and their commitments to sustainability targets such as greenhouse gas reductions. When I am not doing this due-diligence research, I am in meetings or on calls with these companies and with other NGOs and stakeholders discussing ways to work together to better advocate for climate and clean energy, through targeted outreach to Congress or strategic op-eds and thought leadership pieces. Did your SFS experience contribute to where you ended up? SFS definitely affirmed my passion for environmental sustainability and inspired me to pursue a career in the environmental world. What advice do you have for other SFS alumni looking to get into your field? Experience matters! If you care about something get out there and get experience however you can by volunteering, an internship or shadowing someone. You are going to have to work hard to find the right job for you in the environmental world, there is no linear path. Don’t be afraid to ask people about what they’re doing and how they got into it. This can give you a great sense of the types of jobs that are actually out there. → Sustainable Development Studies in Costa Rica [post_title] => Alumni Profile: Anna Menke [post_excerpt] => SFS definitely affirmed my passion for environmental sustainability and inspired me to pursue a career in the environmental world. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => alumni-profile-anna-menke [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:28 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:28 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2017/03/alumni-profile-anna-menke/ [menu_order] => 291 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 5375 [nid] => 4540 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 5375 ) [27] => Array ( [ID] => 5414 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2017-04-19 09:34:55 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-04-19 09:34:55 [post_content] => Name: Courtenay Cabot Venton Education: BA, Economics, Northwestern University; MSc, Environmental Policy and Management, Oxford
SFS Program: Mexico Fall 1994 Current Profession: Environmental Economist Why did you choose SFS as a study abroad program? I have always been an environmentalist at heart. When I was in high school, I ran the environmental club, and I quickly realized that one of the best ways to get people to protect the environment – particularly in the private sector – was to articulate the economic benefits of doing so. So in college I majored in economics. While Northwestern had an excellent economics department, I really wanted to do environmental economics and the head of my program let me design an environmental focus. One part of that was studying in Baja, Mexico with SFS. Reflecting back on your time in the program, what did you gain from your SFS experience? I gained so much from my experience, and I still wish that I could go back in time. There is nothing better than experiential learning, and my program was a perfect mix of classroom studies and extensive field work. There is something truly unique as well about living and working with your peers, 24 hours a day. It creates incredible bonding moments, but it also really teaches you to work it out when you have a difficulty with someone, and to really get to know people who come from all different backgrounds, interests, etc. What is your most profound or lasting memory from your SFS program? Swimming with a whale shark and rescuing a humpback with a net covering its head! What do you do for work? I am an environmental economist. After college, I worked for a U.S. based consultancy focused on U.S. environmental policy. After I did my masters, I wanted to shift to more international development work, and I started working in developing countries. You can’t work on environmental issues in developing countries without working on poverty reduction. Most of my work focuses on helping donors and aid agencies (UN, USAID, etc) to figure out what is working, and what is not, when it comes to poverty reduction. A lot of my work has focused on evaluating different types of interventions –water, health, livelihoods, etc – to determine those that are having the biggest impact for every dollar spent on poverty reduction. More recently, my work has focused heavily on humanitarian aid, specifically addressing the economic case for early response to crises. My days are either spent at my desk, or in the field. When I am at my desk, I am usually on the phone for the morning with colleagues in Africa and Asia, and my afternoons are focused on analysis and writing. When I am in the field, I am either sitting under a tree discussing poverty and the impact of various interventions with community members, or in the capital city working with government and donor counterparts. My work has taken me all over the world – across Asia, Africa and South America. Did your SFS experience contribute to where you ended up? 100%. My love for being in the field has been heavily influenced by my time in Mexico with SFS. Describe an interesting project you’ve worked on. A few years ago I was asked to evaluate an approach to poverty reduction in Ethiopia. Self Help Groups (SHGs) are groups of 15-20 people – mostly women – who come together to save, invest in small businesses, and support each other and their communities. By saving together they are able to lend to each other for small business activities. But more importantly, by working collectively, the women feel empowered to create change in their communities. What’s more, the approach tends to go viral once seeded, with existing groups helping to set up new groups. Determined to do something more, I pulled together a team and we collectively developed an app that would help facilitators to strengthen and spread the Self Help Group model. The app is designed for the facilitators of the groups, and digitizes the weekly content that they use to run a meeting, We could see the potential for an app to help to deepen and strengthen the spread of the approach. At the time, I had no idea where this would lead, or if we would be successful. With seed funding from private donors, we started small and developed a prototype. That led to catalytic funding from the U.K. government. Three years in, we have funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and a vision for a digital platform to help scale the Self Help Group approach globally. What advice do you have for other SFS alumni looking to get into your field? The best advice that I was ever given was that nothing you do is a waste of time. My path in my work has not been linear – I spent some time buying and selling companies for Ernst & Young! But everything that I have done has given me skills that translate through to whatever project I am working on. I have used my experiences from E&Y to build financial models for green technologies, for example, and the negotiating skills that I learned have been invaluable. So don’t be afraid to try something new or different. It can only open your mind to different ways of looking at a problem. → Learn More about Courtenay’s Work in Reducing Poverty Worldwide [post_title] => Alumni Profile: Courtenay Cabot Venton [post_excerpt] => There is nothing better than experiential learning, and my program was a perfect mix of classroom studies and extensive field work. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => alumni-profile-courtenay-cabot-venton [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:28 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:28 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2017/04/alumni-profile-courtenay-cabot-venton/ [menu_order] => 259 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 5414 [nid] => 4576 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 5414 ) [28] => Array ( [ID] => 5437 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2017-05-05 13:16:59 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-05-05 13:16:59 [post_content] => Name: Jacalyn Beck Education: B.S. (2011) Penn State University; Ph.D. (current) Michigan State University SFS Program: Tanzania/Kenya Fall '10 Current Work: Studying the ecology of carnivores and their prey Why did you choose SFS as a study abroad program? I chose SFS because it was the only program that offered a complete immersive experience in the region where I hoped to study. I wanted to get off the beaten path and get to know East Africa in a way that a typical tourist or student couldn’t. I wanted a program that not only allowed me to study under accomplished local scientists but also challenged me to conduct my own research and contribute meaningfully to larger scientific goals. SFS gave me that and so much more. Instead of reading about wildlife ecology, natural resource management, and policy from a book, I experienced it and learned about it first hand through interviews with community members, meetings with local government, outreach opportunities, and countless trips in the field. I felt like there was never a wasted moment. SFS was everything I had hoped it would be and yet more than I could have ever imagined. What is your most profound or lasting memory from your SFS program? It’s truly impossible to pick! I could write a novel with all the amazing memories I made during my time with SFS. But what I really believe was most profound is not a memory at all, but a feeling. The thing I cherish over all else is the complete sense of excitement and contentment that pervaded everything we did during the program. Yes, there were times of stress while studying or collecting data, of course there were moments I felt tired or confused or frustrated over some small thing. But really there was never a time in my life when I felt happier or more alive than I did during those months in Kenya and Tanzania. It was the sense of family I built with others in the program, the acceptance and love I felt from the community and staff, the sense of accomplishment in the work I was a part of. As our then-director Dr. Moses Okello would say, “my cup of joy was overflowing!” What advice would you give to a prospective SFS student? I would tell every prospective SFS student to never give up on themselves or their goals. SFS students are ambitious, curious, and compassionate. They are the type of people who chase dreams and change the world. If that describes you, then never lose sight of that despite life’s many challenges and setbacks. If you hold on to your passions, work hard, and never settle, you cannot fail. What are you working on now? I am currently a Ph.D. student at Michigan State University. I work in the RECaP Lab (Research on the Ecology of Carnivores and their Prey -- alongside some of the best scientists I have ever met. Together we work to study predator-prey interactions and support the conservation of species all around the globe. The two main ecosystems we currently focus on are the Cleveland Metroparks where we investigate how carnivores and their prey thrive in an urban landscape, and Eastern Africa where our research efforts span from giraffe skin disease to lion depredation of livestock to illegal snaring of predators. For now, what I do is all preparatory. I began working towards my Ph.D. last fall (2016) and have spent the last two semesters taking a few classes, grant writing, and planning my research. I was recently awarded a Graduate Research Fellowship through the National Science Foundation (NSF GRFP). This was my third attempt at the grant and final year of eligibility. So to finally achieve it on my last try means so much. This is a huge honor and gives me a leg up as I pursue my lion research over the coming years. With this award I am more ready than ever to get back to Africa and get to work! I will be heading to Tanzania this summer to start the first phase of my study. This will entail direct collaboration with local herders, conducting focal animal observations on the behavior of cattle and other livestock, and collecting data on the biotic and abiotic factors driving direct and indirect interaction between lions and cattle. The main focus this summer will be to investigate the ways in which cows may alter their behavior in locations of high predation risk. This work will be the basis of my dissertation research overall as I dig deeper into how individual variation in behavior plays a role in human-carnivore conflict. I will continue this theme over the next several years by collaring, following, and monitoring the fine-scale movement patterns and behaviors of all individuals within a lion pride. I hope to gain new insight into the ecology of predator-prey interaction that may lead to decreased conflict in the region. Did your SFS experience contribute to where you ended up? Absolutely! I always knew I wanted to work with large carnivores and have been passionate about studying African species since college. My time at SFS Kenya/Tanzania, however, really opened my eyes to the human aspects of wildlife management in the region. The people I met and worked with were so passionate about finding solutions to their wildlife conflict issues that I was absolutely inspired to help them achieve that goal, and have been ever since. After leaving Africa in 2010, I worked continuously to build the skills and experiences necessary to qualify me to take on this role as a professional scientist. Now, as a Ph.D. student, I will be doing just that. And SFS continues to support my efforts and contribute to where I am headed. I will be working in collaboration with Dr. Bernard Kissui (who now holds the title of director at SFS Tanzania, and who was my professor of wildlife management when I attended the program) and the Tarangire Lion Project that he heads. Sharing data and resources with Dr. Kissui and SFS is an integral part of my research design. My partnership with SFS not only influences my success as a graduate student, but also my own sense of personal accomplishment. I am extremely proud to be an SFS alumna and to continue my work with the program! What advice do you have for other SFS alumni looking to get into your field? SFS alumni looking to start a Ph.D. should remember to try to be patient. As with the current job market, there are more qualified people pursuing graduate education than there are openings. Be persistent and be professional. Do not get discouraged. Occasionally, all the pieces fall into place and the path leading to a PhD is clear. But more likely, it will require a whole lot of time, effort, and patience on your part. [post_title] => Alumni Profile: Jacalyn Beck [post_excerpt] => I am more ready than ever to get back to Africa and get to work! [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => alumni-profile-jacalyn-beck [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-08 12:31:29 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-08 16:31:29 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fieldstudies.org/2017/05/alumni-profile-jacalyn-beck/ [menu_order] => 245 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [id] => 5437 [nid] => 4591 [author_info] => [old_url] => [intro_slider] => [color] => [size] => [height] => [helper] => [pod_item_id] => 5437 ) ) )