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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Rockefeller State Park Preserve, Pleasantville, New York, USA

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Rockefeller State Park Preserve, Pleasantville, New York, USA
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Registered: March 2016
City/Town/Province: Ossining
Posts: 1
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My mother exposed me to the natural environment at a young age. The more I was exposed to the natural world, the more captivated I was by all it had to offer, and thus my mother's love for nature became my passion as well. As I grew up, I realized that humans were depleting the natural world of its species and resources, diminishing the beauty of everything I had fallen in love with as a child. From then on I have felt strongly about conserving the environment and protecting wildlife. I was sure that I wanted to work with the natural environment, but it was not until recently that I knew I wanted to conduct research. I have always excelled in science classes at school, but none had satisfied my desire to work hands-on with nature. This gave me the erroneous idea that research was limited to a laboratory setting, which I could not picture myself in.

My idea of science research changed when I was invited to attend the Teatown Environmental Science Academy (TESA) upon entering my sophomore year, where I received hands-on experience with the theories, tools, and methods that scientists use to study environmental conservation. I finally received the education in environmental science that I longed for. My eyes were opened to the world of field research, where I could fulfill both my need to be outside and my love of science. Within the program, I began preliminary research that focused on the pileated woodpecker, a keystone species whose conservation is essential to the function of its ecosystem. This experience introduced me to the world of research, where I could actively help protect the natural environment. Through completing my preliminary research and my current research, I learned that I favor the structured independence that comes with doing field work. Together these experiences revealed a more complete image of what science is, and through my work I am more confident that I can make contributions to science.

I continued studying woodpecker species after TESA, but I expanded upon my previous project. My most recent research investigated the impacts of urbanization on woodpeckers and habitat makeup along an urban-rural gradient in the lower Hudson Valley of New York State, near the largest urban center in the nation, NYC. I conducted a series of bird surveys to analyze the abundance and species richness of woodpeckers, and I completed forest inventories to reveal changes in forest structure. I took a multi-tier approach to analyze my data, utilizing standard statistical approaches, GIS analysis of land use data, and mathematical modeling to predict woodpecker detection and occupancy.

My research advances our understanding of the threat urbanization poses to woodpecker species in addition to the organisms that depend on woodpeckers for survival. I found that urban forests fail to meet the habitat requirements of woodpeckers, necessitating that we pre-emptively assess urban wildlife's tolerance for our urbanizing landscape so that we can adequately plan for natural spaces that best meet wildlife needs. Research should continue within higher urbanized cities to characterize the forested habitats available to wildlife species. To prevent further habitat destruction, there must be a balance between urban growth and properly managing urban forests to maintain critical habitat. This requires the reassessment of current management practices to make necessary plans to improve wildlife and forest management strategies.

The effort I put into my research and the skills I learned along the way will stay with me forever and help me to overcome future obstacles in life. My eagerness to learn and build a more advanced skill set has improved my research and will be advantageous as I continue to pursue science. All of my experiences within the scientific community have helped me to grow stronger as a scientist and as a person. The skills I have acquired will help me as I enter college and ultimately pursue a career in conservation biology research. I feel that I am well prepared for the world that awaits me, and I am looking forward to delving deeper into larger, more complex problems in science, particularly in the conservation of wildlife and ecosystems. I am eager to join the scientific community at the college I have been admitted to, SUNY ESF, where I will be able to fulfill my passion for environmental conservation that I have had since I was a child and become a better scientist.
Date: March 5, 2016 Views: 5647 File size: 25.2kb, 49.8kb : 448 x 506
Hours Volunteered: 700
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 17
Area Restored for Native Wildlife (hectares): 9853
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Registered: March 2016
City/Town/Province: Jinja
Posts: 1
March 19, 2016 10:27am

Thanks for the efforts devoted towards climate change and mitigation.
I am grateful for your efforts.