This past week we met up with ACE EPIC intern Nick Steel on the final day of his four-month internship as a biological science technician.
Originally from Rockland County, just outside of New York City, Nick was in for a bit of a shock relocating to the relatively remote Mogollon Rim Ranger District in Northern Arizona. “It’s just me and one other staff member doing this work,” Nick explained. “We treated 195 acres this summer, which included hand spraying, the use of backpack sprayers, and bio control treatments.”
The internship centered on the mitigation and control of invasive species in the area, and Nick’s time was split between working in the field to remove and treat the different plants, and working in the office contributing to a database of invasive species that can be accessed by all USFS employees. “It’s a good balance. I like having the two different types of work to alternate between.” The position relied heavily on plant identification, and Nick had to be able to differentiate between the native flora and the invasive ones that are problem-causers in the area, such as buffelgrass, cheatgrass, and scotch thistle.
Nick went on to explain; “Through my internship with ACE I got a lot of certifications—wilderness first aid, blood borne pathogens, S212 wild land fire chain saw, and pesticide handler. These make my resume stronger and increase my chances in the job market.” As part of this position, Nick had to complete a certain amount of volunteer service hours. He chose to volunteer with the recreation crew, fire prevention patrol, and timber sales, and developed an interest in wildfire ecology that he hadn’t considered previously. “I don’t think I would have been able to get this experience anywhere else. I’m really happy I came to work here,” Nick remarked, “My internship shined a light onto different jobs I would have never have thought of before.”