If someone is interested in nature, and looking for a summer internship, Kodiak is a pretty swell place to set their sights on. Each summer dozens of internship opportunities pop up across the island offering plenty of adventures and unique experiences. Take for instance the five budding biologists and naturalists that interned with the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge this year. Shelly Lawson is the environmental education specialist for the refuge and said the internships are part of the Youth Conservation Corps, which usually focuses on trails and maintenance.
“And they have them across the nation at national park services and wildlife refuges and other agencies like that. And here in Kodiak since our refuge is off the road system, we don’t have a lot of access to our maintenance cabins out in the field, and trails, we don’t have a lot of trails in the refuge. So our work, YCC program, is a little bit different, it’s really diverse. So they get to go out in the field but then they also work here in town and help with outreach and education.”
The YCC crew spoke on KMXT’s Talk of The Rock, and recent Kodiak High School graduate Leila Pyle said they did get to spend a substantial amount of time out in the refuge at different remote sites.
“Our first trip was to Dead Man
Bay, which is on the south end of the island and the refuge has a public
use cabin there that we did maintenance on. And we also traveled to
Frazer Lake, to the fish pass, and we stayed in the same compound as the
ADFG that runs the weir there. And our last trip was to Camp Island on
Karluk Lake, which is where the refuge has a field station, research
station where people stay all summer. And there’s research projects
going on out there that we helped with.”
The interns are typically out at each location for about a week,
weather permitting. The entire internship lasts nine weeks, and
encompasses a lot of work in town, especially with youth activities. The
crew got to help with some of the WILD programs the refuge put on, and
with Salmon Camp, which almost ceased to exist because of budget cuts
related to sequestration.
Lawson said the same was true for YCC, but some last minute donors
and fundraising made both Salmon Camp and the YCC internship program
“This year was pretty unique,
with some issues that were going on with budget sequestration. And I
don’t know what next year is going to hold. Prior to that we’ve had a
lot of funding and support from the region and Washington D.C. for youth
programs, and I’m hoping that will continue. But this winter I might be
researching more grant opportunities, which is what we used to do with
Salmon Camp and other programs. So we might be researching that this
year and just having a back up plan in case it keeps going in this
As for this year, the crew worked on various projects while out in
the field, a lot doing with maintenance of public use cabins, which are
cabins available for rent throughout the refuge that offer anglers,
sightseers and recreators a lodging place during out of town adventures.
Anelise Zimmer is also a Kodiak graduate, but heading into her second
year of school at Willamette University in Oregon. She participated in
YCC in the past, and this year came back as a crew leader.
“Overall, just seeing how we grew
together as a group and were able to work together at the end of the
season really well. For example while we were moving an outhouse, we
didn’t have very many tools while we were at the North Frazer cabin, and
so we all worked together really well to figure out how to move it,
because it was dug very far into the ground. It was a very unusual
outhouse in my experience. But we actually ended up moving it, the
person that was with us didn’t think we would be able to, and we ended
up doing it, which I thought was awesome just to use our brain power and
then our physical power to move it.”
Part of the internship requires the interns produce a short film
about their summer experience. Those films will be shown tonight at the
visitor center starting at 5:30 p.m. Anyone is welcome to attend and
learn more about the YCC experience.