Kelianne, a Cape May County resident and a sophomore at Delaware Valley University, performed a variety of tasks. She began her internship by assisting with the bat study at Supawna Meadows National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) in Pennsville, which is part of the Cape May NWR complex. Working with Refuge Biologist, Heidi Hanlon, Kelianne retrieved bat detectors and helped with a bat exit count at the famous “bat barn” at Supawna Meadows NWR . “During my first days, I was mainly focusing on the bat work the Refuge was performing. I would deploy and retrieve bat detectors, transfer bat data onto the computers, and also ride along for some bat driving transects,” she explained.
Kelianne also spent several days posting signs on some of the new property the refuge acquired, as well as helping to remove invasive plant species. One of the most challenging portions of her internship came during her work in the Refuge’s salt marshes. “The last few weeks I worked with Refuge Biologist, Mike Tolan, on SMI (Salt Marsh Integrity study). We were considered the “SMI Crew” and would go to the marsh units Cape May NWR was assigned and sample fish using throw traps and ditch nets,” she said.
Kelianne’s major at DelVal is Wildlife Conservation and Management. “My goal is to work as a bio tech or wildlife biologist for US Fish and Wildlife Service so this internship was a key aspect in my overall career goals. I have also considered working as a wildlife rehabilitator or game warden, but after having this internship experience it pretty much solidified that I want to work for US Fish and Wildlife Service,” she said.
Kelianne enjoyed this opportunity and made a positive impression on the Refuge staff. Biologist, Heidi Hanlon, commented, “Kel was a great asset to the Refuge this year. We could not have done all this great bio work without Kel and her support from the Friends group!”
Through their partnership agreement with the Refuge, the Friends group was able to pay for Kelianne’s expenses and provide a stipend for things such as specialized clothing and equipment needed for her job. This represents the first time the Friends group at Cape May NWR has been financially able to support the hiring of a Refuge “employee” in this way. “I feel this was a terrific use of our funds, and I hope this is the start of a long tradition,” John King, Friends’ Board Member, said. “It is very gratifying for us to be able to help not only the Refuge but also aspiring young students who have a keen interest in environmental and conservation careers.”
Kelianne appreciated the help that she received from the Friends. “I honestly cannot thank the partnership between the Refuge and Friends enough. I cherished the weeks that I was able to spend working along side the amazing staff at the Refuge. I am going back to college with much deeper knowledge and understanding of my field. I realize that I obtained this opportunity because of the Friends group and I cannot begin to thank everyone enough. I think this experience was life changing and I would recommend it to all students in my major if they are able to get an internship like I did. It helped me focus in on what I wanted to do with my future and I learned an immense amount of life skills and knowledge that I did not have before this internship. This was probably the best summer of my life and it was solely because of the Friends group and the Refuge staff I was able to work along side of.”
Friends of Cape May NWR is an all-volunteer non-profit group founded in 2009 to provide support for Cape May National Wildlife Refuge. To learn more about Friends or to become a member and support their mission, please visit www.friendsofcapemayrefuge.org, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.