AWC offers opportunities for promising graduate students to gain valuable conservation field experience via our Internship Program. Former intern at Mt Gibson Wildlife Sanctuary, Phoebe Dickins, shares her experiences below.
When did you start and complete your science internship at AWC? What did you study ahead of the internship?
I started my internship in February 2019 and completed it in July 2019. Before doing my internship I completed a Master of Biological Science specialising in Conservation Biology at the University of Western Australia.
How did you hear about it?
I heard about the internship through one of my university lecturers who encouraged everyone to apply because of how relevant the internship was to what we’d studied.
What enticed you to apply?
I thought it seemed like a really exciting opportunity that would allow me to get more practical experience after completing study that was mostly theoretical. I also knew it would give me good insight into what a job working in the field was like, and help me determine if a field-based role was suited to me.
What were some of your expectations going in?
I didn’t have set expectations around what I’d be doing or what skills I’d come out with, however I knew about the work AWC was doing and Mt Gibson’s reintroduction project. Therefore, I was hoping to work with some threatened species, gain some handling experience and learn a range of field-work techniques.
Did any elements of the program surprise you?
Probably the extent of the field work and how much I learnt over the 6 months. I got to work with such a variety of species, be involved with many different types of survey work and was surrounded by such a supportive, experienced team of people who were so willing to pass on their knowledge.
What did you particularly enjoy?
The variety of work that I got to do on a daily basis. One week you would be participating in a translocation of a threatened species, the next out doing remote camera work then the week after flying out to an island within a World Heritage listed area to conduct scat plot and spotlighting surveys. I loved how everyday was different.
Is there a particular moment throughout the internship that you really enjoyed or stood out as a moment you’ll always remember?
I’ll always remember my first week of being at Mt Gibson and going out to locate the recently translocated Numbats to remove their collars. The whole process of radiotracking a Numbat to find the log it was inhabiting, to the complexities of actually removing it from the log and then getting to handle a Numbat was a one-of-a-kind experience. It made me realise how unique the work was that I was getting to do and really excited about the six months ahead.
Would you recommend it to others interested in science-led conservation and why?
Absolutely. I don’t think there’s too many other opportunities like the AWC internship where you get to gain such a broad-range of field work skills and work so closely with such a variety of species. Plus, getting to see first-hand the positive impact of the work you’re doing for threatened species was really special.