This summer I have been warmly welcomed as an intern at the Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation. This organization is a nonprofit that integrates scientific research, education, and public outreach centered around a beloved figure of the Adirondacks: the Common Loon. From the moment visitors walk through the Center’s doors, the mournful sound of this bird’s call ignites visitors’ passion for the outdoors and sparks interest in learning more about the creatures that inhabit it. The Center’s work takes place in various locations. The building itself houses a storefront and various educational exhibits for visitors that poses questions to volunteers and researchers alike. The second primary location is in the field: observing, banding, and occasionally tending to injured loons. The final location is a mobile one: at events and through other programming to engage the public. The Loon Center puts on a variety of programming, from guided tours to art shows to anything in between. By dividing itself as it does, the Center seeks to unite the community under a concern for the Common Loon.
While my initial assignment was primarily focused on gauging visitor satisfaction by means of survey data, it has evolved into so much more. After I expressed interest in aspects of field work, the organization happily allowed me to get into the field and help in any way I can. In addition to creating and distributing surveys, I have also been assigned a territory in which to observe nesting loons. Once a week I take a kayak onto the Lower St. Regis lake to observe two mated pairs of loons. I spend a few hours on the water watching these wonderful birds and note their nesting progress, bands, and behaviors. It truly is a wonderful experience to be able to go beyond the scope of my initial project and take a glimpse into the world of a field researcher at an organization.
As an Environmental Biology major, this project fits very well into my studies. The addition of a field work component made this project an even better fit than I expected and has taught me valuable skills for the future. When initially applying to be a Field School Fellow, I was not entirely sure how this project would go and how it would fit my interests and passions. While I was attracted to the thought of working for a nonprofit focused on the environment, I was not sure if I would be exposed to the research aspect to which I am so attracted. Since then I can confidently say that I am thankful for the opportunity the Field School has given me in connecting me to the Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation.