AWC offers opportunities for promising graduate students to gain valuable conservation field experience via our Internship Program. Former intern, Aiden Wright, shares his experiences below.
How did you hear about AWC’s science internship?
I first became aware of AWC’s work after a guest lecture from senior AWC ecologist, Dr. Jennifer Anson, during a wildlife management class at university. Soon after, I signed up to become a volunteer and it was through AWC’s communication channels that I heard about the science internship program.
What enticed you to apply?
Knowing the important contributions that AWC has made to Australia’s conservation landscape was a big drawcard. Even more so was the fact AWC’s successes have helped turn the tide of Australia’s small mammal extinctions by translating scientific understanding into impactful conservation action. The science internship program therefore presented the perfect opportunity to transition from studying science in university into a career in conservation, whilst gaining important practical experience with the variety of field strategies that AWC employs.
What were elements of the program that surprised you?
Going into my internship, I didn’t expect my daily experiences to be so varied, which was great – as no two weeks ended up being the same. One week I was at North Head checking nest boxes for Eastern Pygmy Possums and the next I was out at Scotia spotlighting for Bilbies and Burrowing Bettongs. Only to then find myself back in Sydney right on time to survey North Head’s own reintroduced small mammal populations.
What did you particularly enjoy?
First, the fact that most of my internship experience enabled me to spend more time in nature was probably what I enjoyed the most. Not only was I able to get amongst some unique Australian environments but knowing that the actions you are undertaking are for the benefit biodiversity is extremely rewarding. I also enjoyed how much there was to learn; from handling animals to gaining the confidence to lead survey teams, all the while continually developing the ability to ID the unique Australian fauna and flora that we share our environments with.
Why do you think it’s beneficial for anyone looking to enter a career in science and conservation?
The looming threat of a changing climate and a rolling tide of species extinctions can at times be disheartening for someone looking to enter a career in conservation, as I know it was for me. However, my internship with AWC reinforced the fact that if we act with urgency, we can truly make a difference. If you’re passionate about protecting threatened populations, the science internship program will equip you with the knowledge, confidence and practical skills that are vital for making meaningful contributions to Australia’s conservation landscape.
Is there a particular moment throughout the internship that you really enjoyed or stood out as a moment you’ll always remember?
It’s hard nail down such a diverse 5-month experience into a singular moment, however, being able to see one of Australia’s rarest and most elusive mammals just seconds away from where I’d make my breakfast was pretty special. This was during my short stint at Scotia Wildlife Sanctuary where it was not uncommon to see Numbats going about their daily business right amongst the homestead buildings. It helped reinforce the fact that AWC’s sanctuaries are vital for providing these havens where some of our most threatened species can thrive and again makes the work we do even more rewarding.
Would you recommend it to others interested in science-led conservation and why?
Of course! If you’re passionate about turning scientific knowledge into meaningful conservation actions, you’ll find plenty of good company during an internship with AWC. You’ll be learning from and working alongside teams of dedicated ecologists and land managers who are successfully setting a new trend for conservation in Australia by applying world-class science to manage key threats, protect populations and restore some of our most iconic landscapes.