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KBS Intern Studies in Yellowstone PDF Print E-mail
Written by Austin Hackert   
Friday, 27 June 2014 20:30

Introductions are in order!  I am Austin Hackert, one of two Avian Care Interns for the Kellogg Bird Sanctuary this summer. The internship includes daily cleaning, feeding, and monitoring of the captive birds and facilities. It is a great hands-on experience learning how to handle gamebird, waterfowl and native raptors.  In addition to the birding part of the job, I am also working on a project to expand our education and outreach through a native pollinator garden, showcased near the Resource Center of the Sanctuary.  After a fun filled summer and a few more courses in the fall, I will be graduating this winter from Michigan State University with a BS in Fisheries and Wildlife, concentrating on Wildlife Biology.

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Earlier this summer I had the opportunity to study...vacation academically in Yellowstone National Park as the first iteration of a new National Park study away program through Michigan State University. This new course is a great way to get the hands on experiential learning that the Fisheries and Wildlife department requires and continues to encourage for undergraduate studies.   As a first time traveler out west, I didn’t even know what to expect.  Beginning with the little things like my favorite radio show playing on the way to the airport, and a beautiful vista setting the stage at the airport in Bozeman, Montana, I knew the trip was going to be great.

The faculty had a few days planned officially with the Yellowstone Association, travelling through and learning about various aspects of the park.  The remaining half of the week the nine other students and I travelled across Yellowstone and the foothills in Montana taking in the sights, sounds and culture.  We had the chance to speak to local ranchers and biologists about issues with wolf reintroduction, climate change and park management, and of course there was no shortage of wildlife watching.  For the first time I saw a plethora of elk, bison, and pronghorn, along with some slightly more adventurous sightings of a wolf, black bear and grizzly bear.  Not to forget my summer pastime, I also saw various nesting raptors, including red-tails, bald eagles, osprey and a peregrine falcon.  It seemed only fitting to finish the trip with a lazy horseback ride through the hills of Montana and a short trip rafting down the Yellowstone River before travelling back to Bozeman the following morning.

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Combining the awe striking landscapes, wide range of wildlife and the pleasure of good company, I can say it was a bittersweet trip back to the state I know and love, but I’m looking forward to the rest of the summer here at Kellogg Bird Sanctuary.