"I have learned a new word today--drizzly!" Paola López, a native of Guadalajara, Mexico, shivers as she heads out to check the mist nets, in temperatures that plunge to the mid-60s, typical of summer at PRBO's Palomarin Field Station.
This fall, Paola and three other interns from Latin America have migrated to PRBO to learn bird banding and monitoring techniques, which they will take home to their own countries.
Paola chose to spend time at PRBO, because "it is recognized in Mexico as one of the most important bird science organizations and the best place to learn about birds and bird study."
In addition to banding, she is here to learn about conservation education. As a science educator in Mexico, Paola takes advantage of the flock of wild parrots that inhabit Guadalajara to teach children that even cities can hold healthy habitats. "Children and adults are fascinated to learn there are such beautiful wild birds living inside a city. It inspires them to see the possibilities of a healthy place for both animals and people."
One of Paola's duties as PRBO's education intern is to guide visitors and school groups on 'net runs'--accompanying the banders to collect birds caught in our mist nets. While the birds are being weighed and measured at the banding lab, Paola has the chance to talk about some of her favorite friends from home--Neotropical migrants such as the Rufous Hummingbird, Barn Swallow, Swainson's Thrush, and Wilson's Warbler.
The globalization of everything from the economy to environmental problems makes international partnerships increasingly important, especially where conservation of migratory species is concerned. Since 2002, PRBO has partnered with the National Park Service's Park Flight Migratory Bird Program, and with Point Reyes National Seashore and Golden Gate National Recreation Area, to host seven banding and education interns from Latin America.
Instituted to protect shared migratory bird species and their habitats in U.S. and Latin American national parks, the Park Flight Program supports migratory bird projects and works with partners* to create opportunities for education and technical exchange among countries.
* Other partners of the Park Flight Program include American Airlines, a partner of America's national parks through their partnership with the National Park Foundation; the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation; and the University of Arizona.
Paola foresees long-term partnerships between Park Flight interns and PRBO. "The Park Flight Program is a great opportunity for me to learn more about teaching environmental education," says Paola, "and I think my experience in Mexico helps PRBO in their new urban education programs. I look forward to keeping in touch with PRBO through my career as an educator in Mexico."