AWC offers opportunities for promising graduate students to gain valuable conservation field experience via our Internship Program. Former intern, Joshua Hungerford, shares his experiences below.
When did you start and complete your science internship at AWC? What did you study ahead of the internship?
I commenced in July 2019 and completed December 2019. I studied a Bachelor of Science (Zoology) and Master of Conservation Science (coursework + thesis) at the University of Queensland.
What enticed you to apply?
So many reasons! I had a yearning to be on the ‘conservation frontline’ after having spent so many years in office-based academic scenarios. I wanted to see applied conservation practices in action; landscape management, reintroductions, restorations etc. I wanted to step outside of my comfort zone. I wanted to work intimately with native fauna and flora. I wanted to be mentored by highly skilled, passionate, likeminded people. I wanted to become a part of an organisation at the forefront of conservation action in Australia.
What were some of your expectations going in?
I expected to be challenged physically and mentally due to the highly active and complex nature/s of many of the activities. I expected to exponentially develop professionally and personally due to the breadth of opportunities and novel encounters.
Were you surprised by any elements of the program?
The sense of community and comradery. I was so warmly welcomed into the team, and our wellbeing was not only individual but collective. The difficulty of being so far from loved ones – I relocated from QLD to WA. The challenge (and serenity!) of living remotely. The development of an almost-spiritual reverence of the sanctuary, environment, organisms and community.
What did you particularly enjoy?
Being completely immersed in the beauty, structure, and diversity of the sanctuary and it’s community. Partaking in translocations of Greater Stick-nest Rats and Shark Bay Bandicoots; supplementary husbandry of the former, living aboard a vessel in Shark Bay for the latter (in addition to all of the other inherent activities involved in translocations!). Living with, and learning from, members of the Badimiya mob, who taught me of the myriad socio-cultural significances of the land.
Did you complete any other science internships and how did this one differ?
I have only completed the AWC internship. Of course I am now biased, but I cannot imagine another internship eclipsing this one.
Is there a particular moment throughout the internship that you really enjoyed or that stood out as a moment you’ll always remember?
One single moment is too difficult an ask, however; the collective experiences of feeling a deep sense of fulfilment. Those oft-brief moments of watching a threatened/endangered/critically endangered animal released into a sanctuary. Observing said animals thriving. Appreciating the vast swathes of restored/managed/intact landscapes. Knowing that all of the trials and tribulations pale beneath the magnitude of contributing to the greater cause.
Would you recommend it to others interested in science-led conservation and why?
It seems that I don’t stop raving about it to friends/family/strangers! The internship provides an (opinion: unparalleled) opportunity to develop the professional skillsets (and personal resilience) required to be successful in ecology/conservation careers. In a relatively short period of time the internship provides such a diverse suite of experiences, field- and office-based, in addition to some quite novel and/or rare opportunities.