AWC offers opportunities for promising graduate students to gain valuable conservation field experience via our Internship Program. Former intern, Christine Mauger, shares her experiences below.
When did you start your internship? How are you finding it?
I started my 6 month internship with the North East team in May. I have been super busy with field work, but am enjoying travelling around, learning a range of survey techniques and working with different staff and Traditional Owners. In three months, I have been lucky to go on 5 field trips, which included targeted trapping surveys for Northern Bettongs and Northern Quolls, camera trapping, fauna surveys and the Brush-tailed Bettong reintroduction in Newhaven.
What are your long-term goals in the science field?
I am interested in on the ground conservation, working closely with Traditional Owners and different stakeholders to reach meaningful conservation outcomes. My interests are in behavioural and landscape ecology, species translocations, predator-prey interactions and fire.
How did you hear about AWC’s science program?
From memory, I first heard about AWC and their reintroduction work whilst at university. Whilst working with the Department of Environment, I learnt of their collaboration with the National Environmental Science Program Threatened Species Recovery Hub and got regular updates on AWC’s work with them.
What were some of your expectations going into the internship?
The program description that was in the internship advertisement was quite comprehensive, so I knew that being an intern for the North East team involved a lot of field work. I moved from Brisbane for the internship and was excited to travel around and see and learn about new species and landscapes that I hadn’t worked in before. I expected that I would be learning different survey techniques and handling a lot of animals, as well as learning how to use programs like GIS, project reporting and I knew I would be camping in the bush a lot!
Have elements of the program surprised you so far?
Nothing so much program specific, but I suppose the main thing is how flexible you need to be in this field of work, particularly in recent times with COVID-19. We have had to reschedule a number of surveys and I have had a couple of trips to the NT where I have had to get tested and isolate. Every day things can change and you need to be able to adapt and make contingency plans as sometimes you will have less time or less staff than first planned.
Have you completed any other science internships? If so, how does this one differ?
I completed a 3 month internship with Bush Heritage last year. Whilst they sometimes do have field based internships, this one differed as it was desktop based and working on a particular species.
Is there a unique moment in the internship so far that you’ve really enjoyed or that stood out as a moment you’ll always remember?
I grew up in Canberra, so everything in the north of the country is very different and I was really excited by this. Going to Pungalina-Seven Emu for field surveys was the first time I visited the Northern Territory and being in the Gulf was quite special. It was really cool how kind of freaky looking a lot of the reptiles were, and how different the mammals and birds are. The Calvert river that runs through the sanctuary is quite stunning.
Would you recommend it to others interested in science-led conservation and why?
I would definitely recommend it to others! I have already learnt so much. I’ve learnt a lot about species I didn’t know about. My 4wding skills have greatly improved, I’ve met some great people and have seen so many new places. If you’re ok with getting dirty, some long days/nights in the field and camping for sometimes weeks at a time, then I would suggest this is the internship to do.