|As a PRBO intern on the Farallon Islands in 1990, Nina Karnovsky (now a professor) helped study Rhinocerous Auklets. Photo courtesy Nina Karnovsky|
Because of their beauty, visibility, diversity and role as indicators, birds are model organisms for students of natural history and conservation biology. Studies of avian life history and ecology give us precious insight into the structure of the natural world and the forces that shape it. Natural history came of age as a science in the 1930s. Since then, field biology courses emphasizing careful observations have entered the curriculum of many universities, and our understanding of organisms in their ecosystems has improved exponentially.
Yet actual field time is increasingly hard for students to find. Most academic situations today favor scientific studies in which variables can be controlled and results obtained quickly and interpreted easily. Field studies involve an uncontrollable environment--the natural world; they require long-term investigations, careful and repeatable observations, and countless hours in the field.
Internship Support Needed
We are ever grateful to the Bernard Osher Foundation for its decade-long support of our internationally renowned Conservation Biology Internship Program. Due to changing priorities, however, after 2006 they will no longer be providing an average of $75,000 annually. The total program costs exceed $400,000 each year.
We are in search of individuals and/or foundations who would like to underwrite this invaluable program, which continues to make such far-reaching and everlasting contributions to the conservation world.
For more information, please contact Nancy Gamble (415-868-1221, ext. 324).
PRBO's internship program, dating back to the early 1970s, provides one of the few chances for a student of biology to participate, not for hours but for months, in the long-term study of birds and their habitats. Interns interact daily with PRBO staff and associates, they monitor known individual birds of many kinds (and even elephant seals), and they live and work in remote places, immersed in field research. We train them not only in field protocols but also in the management, analysis and interpretation of field data. Many are also involved in education and outreach, interpreting PRBO's work to visitors and students.
For our interns, time in the field at a PRBO study site permanently influences their appreciation and understanding of the natural world.As shown in the following pages, graduates of our intern program go on to highly worthwhile endeavors, where the skills and values they learned at PRBO are important components in their daily efforts to understand and protect our environment's health.