PRBO Conservation Science
Quarterly Journal of PRBO Conservation Science, Number 143, Winter 2006: PRBO's Internship Program

What are our former Palomarin interns up to?


Intern Fledging and Recapture Success

Chrissy Howell, PhD

PRBO's Internship Program
Executive Director's Column
Former Interns' Stories
Intern Fledging Success
Doorway to a Career
Welcoming New Board Members
Focus on Thermoregulation
Lifelong Generosity: Don and Louise Johnston
The Grand List

At PRBO we often ask, "How are the birds doing?" To approach this question we can look at the number of birds that successfully fledge or examine the probability of their return to our mist-nets the following year (as "recaptures").
Figure 1. Selected accomplishments of Palomarin interns over the past ten years
Figure 2. Palomarin intern placement over the past ten years

Recently a few of us decided to look at the "fledging success" of interns at Palomarin Field Station to answer the question, "What are our former interns up to?" The answers were very illuminating!

Palomarin Field Station has been the training ground for over 400 intern field biologists during the last 30 years. Over the past ten years there have been 133 interns at Palomarin. Almost 90% of them have stayed in the field of conservation biology and/or pursued graduate education following their internships (Figure 1). About half of these interns have joined PRBO's seasonal or permanent staff at some point. A very impressive one-third of this group have gone on to publish a peer-reviewed paper (including contributions to Science, Nature, and American Naturalist).

We further broke down the placement of Palomarin interns with regard to the job types and education programs they pursue (Figure 2). Many elected to continue their undergraduate education or pursue graduate studies, including programs in conservation, science, education and environmental law. Palomarin interns went on to enter graduate programs at over 28 institutions--from University of California campuses to Simon Fraser University (British Columbia), Georg August University (Germany), and University of Costa Rica.

Farallones and beyond

PRBO's Farallon Island Field Station is another main source of former interns who have gained professional prominence. Here is just a sampling--with the period of each individual's Farallon internship followed by his or her current title and affiliation.

· Ken Warheit, PhD. Spring 1985 (Palomarin 1979-81). Research Scientist, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

· Jim Salzman, PhD. Winter 1987-88. Professor of Environmental Policy, Duke University.

· Libby Logerwell, PhD. Summer 1989 and winter 1989-90. Research Scientist, National Marine Fisheries Service, Alaska Fisheries Science Center.

· Gerry McChesney. Summer-fall 1987. Common Murre Restoration Project Leader, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

In addition, some 50% of our current Marine Division staff are past interns--a trend found throughout PRBO. At least 38 current full-time biologists and educators began at PRBO as interns; one is featured in the story called Doorway to a Career in this special Observer.

Beyond the opportunities at our main field stations, up to eight PRBO projects --from Mono Lake to Antarctica--open internships yearly. The details can be found at and also on our website under Science: Latin America Program: Building Capacity.

Clearly, former PRBO interns are having a positive impact on the fields of avian biology, conservation and education.

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