AWC offers opportunities for promising graduate students to gain valuable conservation field experience via our Internship Program. Current Intern, Jake Barker, shares his experiences below.
When did you start your internship? How are you finding it?
I started my internship in The Kimberly region just under two months ago and it has already been one of the best experiences of my life. In what feels like such a short time I’ve flown in a chopper for the first time, deployed and retrieved cameras from rocky gorges and creek lines, and have just started an inventory survey at Yampi which has involved trapping Northern quolls, Golden Backed Tree Rats, Bandicoots as well as a plethora of reptiles and frogs. I can’t wait to see what the next 4 months will bring!
What are your long-term goals in the science field?
Over my career I hope to contribute to improving conservation efforts and protecting Australia’s unique flora and fauna. I’d like this to involve on the ground applied conservation, but also to be involved in broader research and science programs that make this conservation possible.
How did you hear about AWC’s science program?
I first heard about AWC through lectures at Monash university. This prompted me to do more research where I became enthralled by the scale of conservation and positive effects AWC achieves.
What enticed you to apply?
Towards the end of my degree, I was lucky enough to volunteer with AWC on several occasions including a Numbat reintroduction, live trapping Woylies (Brush-tailed Bettong), and spotlighting Bilbies. Through these experiences I witnessed the power and importance of AWC’s practical conservation approach and saw the internship as the perfect opportunity for me to get involved and contribute to this great work. Getting to work with some of Australia’s most iconic and endangered wildlife wasn’t a bad selling point either!
What were some of your expectations going into the internship?
In the lead up to commencing my internship with AWC my anticipation was high. I was so excited to fly into such a far away and unique part of Australia where there was sure to be new experiences around every corner. I was expecting to learn lots about Australian conservation, work with some extremely knowledgeable people and feel a real sense of pride about the work I was going to engage in. Whilst the 2 months I’ve spent here so far have flown by, I can already say that I have not been disappointed.
Have elements of the program surprised you so far?
One of the aspects of the internship that has surprised me the most so far is the sheer scale of land that AWC conserves and protects in The Kimberley. Being on the ground really contextualises how vast and expansive the sanctuaries and partnerships areas actually are, and it helps to reaffirm that the work we do can and is having a really large positive impact for Australian wildlife and plants.
Have you completed any other science internships? If so, how does this one differ?
This is the first science internship I have been involved in.
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?
One of my favourite parts of the internship is just how immersed in the environment you become. In the first month I was based out of Mornington Wildlife Sanctuary where right on my doorstep I could see populations of endangered Gouldian finches, and Purple Crowned fairy wrens. At night the base would come to life with at least a dozen different species of frogs hopping about. It was also not uncommon to stumble across Olive and Children’s pythons! I have also spent time at Yampi Sound Training Area, which is a hotspot and refuge for many endangered and endemic animals. Whilst staying there I spotlighted species such as Northern Quolls, Kimberley Brush-tailed Phascogales, Savannah Gliders, Golden Bandicoots and Golden Backed Tree-rats all within the vicinity of my swag. Seeing these animals in their natural habitats is truly special and something I hope will be possible for a long time to come.
Would you recommend it to others interested in science-led conservation and why?
I couldn’t recommend an internship with AWC enough for anyone interested in the fields of conservation and ecology. The internship will place you into an amazing team with a wealth of knowledge where you’ll have the chance to learn about species ID, survey techniques, animal handling, ecological processes and much more. All the while you will be engaging in unforgettable experiences and contributing to meaningful and effective conservation.
Jake’s internship was made possible thanks to the generous support of Wettenhall Environment Trust.