[ACE]: What is your background? Where are you from?
[RG]: I’m from Minnesota. I moved to Arizona in 2009 to study environmental studies with an emphasis in natural history and ecology at Prescott College.
What made you want to get into the field of conservation?
I think I’ve known since a relatively early age that I wanted to be involved in conservation. I’ve always loved the outdoors. I had some experiences when I was a teenager that helped to inspire me; some canoe trips in Northern Minnesota specifically. It was outdoor experiences like that which made me want to get involved.
How did you find out about ACE?
I actually ran into an ACE crew college field course while they were doing some aquatic weed removal at Cibola National Wildlife Refuge, and so I found out about the program by talking to them.
Can you tell me about one highlight and one challenge that you’ve had during the internship?
Well this past week, we set up wildlife cameras as part of the joint wildlife study we are doing with the other EPIC interns at Saguaro National Park. We just pulled all those cameras in the last few weeks and I got to sift through the photos. We saw hundreds of jackrabbits and cottontails and pocket mice, but yesterday I found a photo of a kit fox, and grey foxes, and the back end of a bobcat! It’s really cool. I’ve been out here for four months and you don’t necessarily see too much wildlife during the day when you’re out here, but it’s cool to be reminded that there really is so much abundant life in this area, it’s just hidden.
What do you feel sets ACE apart from other organizations?
I’ve done a few other internships that were similar in some ways. I think that I’ve had really good experiences with everyone from ACE, there’s been very little confusion when interacting with them. The staff seems really supportive and organized, which has definitely not been my experience with some other internships.
What are your goals after this position ends?
Well I wanted to get some experience with land management organizations through this internship to see if that’s really what I’m interested in, and I have determined that it is. I’m really hoping to continue my path in conservation in the science and wildlife areas. I’m especially interested in a plant BioTech position.
Do you think this position has helped you prepare to pursue that career path?
Yes, definitely. I didn’t have any experience with this sort of work before, especially not in a government setting. It’s also been really helpful to get to work alongside BLM staff, being able to get to know them and hearing about how they got started in their positions, and what their day-to-day tasks look like.