The program will include seven online sessions and six field trips taking place from October through the end of May that are designed to cover all steps of scientific research. Students will study the impact of wildfires and their frequency as well as reflect on the relationship between fire, the landscape and how humans and non-human organisms play a role in wildfires and their aftermath. Students will craft pointed scientific questions, design protocol, collect data from various sites across Orange County, work with professional researchers in the field, analyze and organize data and present their findings at the end of the program.
The students will continue to build upon the research conducted by the previous academic cohort surrounding cactus scrub habitats, specifically how the coastal cactus wren, a sensitive bird species, has been affected by wildfires. The goal is to accumulate a more robust database to track changes over time and be able to measure the impact of past and future fires. Last year, students discovered that an uptick in fire frequency has been negatively affecting cactus health and wren nesting patterns.
Interns range from sophomores to seniors and have career aspirations across sustainability, climate change, pre-med and resource management. Students gain valuable experience working in restoration, fire ecology and land management, helping local land managers address real-life conservation challenges. This program provides students with hands-on experience with managing natural resources, which will be great if they want to pursue a career in environmental science.
Applications are open now through September 22nd. To apply, or learn more about this hands-on and exciting program, please visit crystalcove.org/fire-ecology-high-school-internship.