Suzanne Austin’s undergraduate research internship helps determine why bluebird populations are declining.
Internships help undergraduates succeed
Internships help undergraduates succeed

Working with researcher Tara Robinson, fisheries and wildlife senior Suzanne Austin was involved in a study to examine the population viability of the Western Bluebird.

At issue in Robinson’s research is an effort to determine why young birds often are killed in the nest, and then finding out whether something can be done about it.

Austin’s involvement in the project is part of an OSU Department of Fisheries and Wildlife requirement that students must complete two internships before they graduate. After the internships, most students enter their last year of undergraduate study with a refined sense of what they want to learn and what they want to do after they graduate.

“Most of our students are from urban areas,” says Rebecca Goggans, coordinator of the internship program. “They’ve seen a lot of nature shows on TV but don’t know how that translates into a career. So the internship is one of the best ways to give students an experience that allows them to synthesize the skills and theories they learned in class.”

And it seems to be working.

  • Spencer Rearden spent his internship monitoring salmon return in remote Alaskan rivers. He gathered data on the return to help establish quotas for commercial salmon fishing.
  • Jaimie Wisnowski did his internship in Wyoming working on the wolf recovery program in Grand Teton National Park and the Bridger-Teton National Forest.
  • Nemesia Herzstein learned during her internship as a naturalist at BLM’s Yaquina Head natural area on the Oregon coast that she not only loves to work with animals but also to teach people about them.

“The internship experience seems to make college much more meaningful for the students,” says Goggans. “They feel like they are at OSU for a reason.”

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