Michelle Bacon spent her international internship caring for cheetahs in Namibia in southern Africa–and she loved it.

Michelle Bacon spent months with Cheetahs
Michelle Bacon spent months with Cheetahs

Imagine putting a piece of meat on a spoon attached to a one-foot-long stick and holding it out for a wild animal to eat. Michelle Bacon did just that and a lot more during her 11-week international internship in Africa.

Michelle, now a senior, discovered during her freshman year that she would have to complete an internship to get her degree in fisheries and wildlife. It didn’t take her long to realize that she wanted to do an international internship and work with large African predators.

So last summer she was in Namibia working with the Cheetah Conservation Fund, responsible for taking care of 28 cheetahs and 10 Anatolian Shepard puppies.

Each day differed from the previous, Michelle says. “I worked in a clinic with a veterinarian to take blood, skin, and hair samples from wild cheetahs, perform an autopsy, and take organ samples from a cheetah that had been hit by a car. I also picked up captured cheetahs to later release them back into the wild, and performed a medical workup in the bush on a brown hyena and a mother and cub leopard that had been caught by a visiting researcher.”

When large tourist or school groups visited, she says, “we would have a cheetah run, which is when they chase after a mechanical lure system, and when they catch it we reward them by giving them a piece of meat on a short stick. It is incredible to be so close to them and see the fastest land mammal in the world run!”

Michelle also was responsible for taking care of the Anatolian Shepard litter that was born the week after she arrived. The Cheetah Conservation Fund “breeds these dogs as livestock guarding dogs and then gives them to farmers in order to prevent cheetahs and other predators from taking livestock–a significant motivation to shoot cheetahs,” she says. “The hardest part was definitely not getting too attached to the 10 puppies, and keeping my affection to a minimum, as the dogs are supposed to be bonded to livestock and not humans.”

Now back in the U.S., Michelle is doing more normal things, such as finishing her studies and participating on the women’s rowing team, where she is co-captain for 2004-05.

But she won’t forget her summer in Namibia, saying it “was so incredible, and I feel so lucky that I had this opportunity.”

IE3 Global Internships

Cheetah Conservation Fund website

Tim Fiez is part of the University Libraries team that developed a comprehensive website about the Willamette River Basin.

Time Fiez is developing a website for the Willamette Basin
Time Fiez is developing a website for the Willamette Basin

If you want to know more about the 13th largest river in the United States, whose basin is home to more than 2 million people, you’re looking for the online “Willamette Basin Explorer: Past, Present, Future.”

The website at http://willametteexplorer.info provides a history of the Willamette Basin, analysis of critical issues, mapping tools, video clips, links to publications, data sets, and many more helpful resources. It also explores different development options for the basin, and offers information to help people better understand the implications of land management decisions.

The site was developed by the OSU Libraries as part of the Willamette Basin Conservation Project, a two-year effort to provide Oregonians with more information to help make sound, informed land management decisions.

The initiative, funded by a $600,000 grant from the Meyer Memorial Trust, is a collaborative effort of the Institute for Natural Resources at Oregon State University, OSU Libraries, the University of Oregon, Willamette Restoration Initiative, and Defenders of Wildlife.

“The Willamette Basin is one of the most beautiful and productive regions in the country,” says Hal Salwasser, dean of OSU’s College of Forestry and a principal investigator on the project., “but its population is expected to double in the next 50 years, and we face challenges with water pollution, sensitive habitats, endangered species, and urban development.”

The web project builds on a research effort by the Pacific Northwest Ecosystem Research Consortium, a joint project of the Environmental Protection Agency, OSU, and the U of O. The OSU Libraries and the Institute for Natural Resources plan to use this site as a model for providing similar information to other areas in Oregon.

Willamette Basin Explorer website

Pacific Northwest Ecosystem Research Consortium website

Willamette Basin Planning Atlas book

Governor’s initiative for Willamette River cleanup

Willamette Basin Explorer news release

Tracy Daugherty and Marjorie Sandor utilize their writing and teaching abilities in OSU’s master’s degree program in creative writing.

Husband and wife wins major writing awards
Husband and wife wins major writing awards

When Marjorie Sandor and her husband, Tracy Daugherty, captured major writing awards last year, it was nothing new for either of them.

Sandor won the 2004 National Jewish Book Award for Fiction for her collection of 10 short stories, Portrait of My Mother, Who Posed Nude in Wartime.

The stories are fictional portraits that revolve around a Jewish immigrant family that keeps secrets from each other to protect the younger generation from the family’s unfortunate history and contemporary struggles. “My mother really wasn’t very thrilled with the title,” Sandor says. “I had to explain to her the context for the title, and then she was okay with it.”

Daugherty, meanwhile, brought home the Oregon Book Award for the novel for his book, Axeman’s Jazz.

It was the third time he has won the Oregon Book Award, taking it for short fiction in 2003 and for the novel in 1996. Sandor won an Oregon Book Award in 2000 for a collection of essays, The Night Gardener.

Both are faculty members in OSU’s Department of English, and they bring their writing talents and success to the classroom as teachers in the university’s master of fine arts program in creative writing.

Daugherty, who is director of the MFA program, says although writers tend to be introspective and he was “petrified” when he first started teaching, he believes writing and teaching can be complementary activities.

“Learning to articulate an element of craft to a writing class helps me be clearer in my own approach to writing,” he says. “In other ways, they are opposed activities. In teaching the critical mind is most engaged; in writing, it’s the creative side of the brain that’s tapped.”

Sandor award news release

Online interview with Daugherty

Online interview with Sandor

MFA program in creative writing

Audio Selections (MP3)
You can download a free audio player from Real.com

Marjorie Sandor:
audio icon Elegy for Miss Beagle (MP3) and (text equivalent)
audio icon Portrait of My Mother, Who Posed Nude in Wartime (MP3) and (text equivalent)

Tracy Daugherty:
audio icon Power Lines (MP3) and (text equivalent)
audio icon Lamplighter (MP3) and (text equivalent)