Bigfork students leave to study science as interns at Glacier Park

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Two Bigfork High School students had the unique opportunity to explore science in Glacier National Park this summer as Nora Kehoe and Tabitha Raymond were both sponsored interns with the Glacier National Park Conservancy.

The two students received the internships after receiving recommendations from their professors and had the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in the field while learning from scientists who study flora and fauna in the crown of the ecosystem of the continent.

“I was able to talk to all these amazing people about my future plans and they were able to give me advice. They taught me so much about the world in general and about the birds and Glacier Park,” said Kehoe, who participated in the park’s Bird Productivity and Survival Monitoring Program (MAPS) “I’ve always been interested in birds, but I didn’t realize it until I got this I would have taken anything, but it was too good an opportunity to pass up.

Every 10 days from June 10 to August 11, Kehoe had the opportunity to help with the MAPS program as he used 10 nets to capture, band and record information on many species of songbirds in the park. Along the way, Kehoe developed a new love for the park’s birds.

“I found it fascinating to learn about all these different species of birds that I had no idea. I just got thrown into the world of birds next to all these experts, and it wasn’t easy. I had so much to learn,” she said. “I was able to be immersed in all this avian information which was like a whole new world to me. It was amazing to be able to hold these birds in my arms and learn about them directly from all these experts.

Kehoe was also lucky enough to help the park’s harlequin duck research team as they spent three days hiking along McDonald’s Creek collecting water samples for the new DNA environmental study. of Glacier.

While she enjoyed working with harlequins, she said it was the songbirds in the park that really caught her attention.

“I loved the cedar wax wings. They are so beautiful and angelic. They have these silky, amazing feathers,” she said. “I also really like the American redstarts with their amazing colorful wings.”

Kehoe will be a senior at Bigfork High School this year and says she hopes to get into the field of wildlife biology and conservation after graduation.

“It really helped me develop a broad vision for my future. I’m super excited where all these connections I’ve made could take me,” she said. “It opens up so many other opportunities for me.”

Raymond also participated in the MAPS studies this summer, but also gained a more holistic view of conservation in the park as a general conservation intern.

Along with songbird surveys, Raymond worked with the Native Plant Nursery to collect seeds and work with Whitebark Pine. She joined a USGS fishing team as she worked to remove invasive trout from Logging Lake, participated in a loon study, and even got to watch young golden and bald eagles learning to fly.

“Getting to learn from experts who really know their stuff was amazing,” she said. “It was a truly amazing experience. All the people I met and the things I got to do were amazing.

Although she enjoyed the whole experience, Raymond said learning to manage songbirds with the MAPS program was especially fun.

“Being able to handle the birds and see them up close was very interesting. It was an incredibly unique experience,” she said. “I feel like a lot of people never see a songbird up close like this.”

Raymond, who will be graduating from high school in January, says she plans to clear her grounding at Flathead Valley Community College in the spring before hopefully studying conservation at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff.

“I applied for the internship to find out what type of conservation I want to study in the future and I feel like this summer has been incredibly helpful in achieving that goal,” she said. “I really enjoyed the biology work, so that’s probably the direction I’m going to take.”

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