Archbold Biological Station’s programs center around science, conservation, and education. Education goals are achieved in a variety of ways from visiting 4th grade school groups to summer camps, lectures to visiting university classes, guided weekend tours for the public, and internships. Archbold’s scientific research internships are directed at older students, often those that have completed a Bachelors degree in science and are contemplating graduate school. Internship positions at Archbold are highly sought-after and attract students from all across the country to Highlands County. These interns usually spend 6-8 months at Archbold. They spend about half their time working in one of Archbold’s research programs—conducting field work, processing samples, and undertaking data entry and analyses. Interns also pursue independent research of their own, mentored by one of the Program Directors, senior scientists often with decades of experience.
Dr. Reed Bowman, Director of the Avian Ecology Program said, “Our goal is not only to teach students how to conduct research, but to provide experiences that help prepare them for success in graduate school, such as how to critique scientific papers, how to conduct a literature search, and how to effectively present research results, in both written reports and oral presentations.” Archbold interns give a presentation of their final results to staff, students, and other interns, but it’s not quite the same as presenting them at a professional meeting. Dr. Bowman said, “We would love to give interns the experience of attending a professional meeting, but taking 4-6 staff and interns to a scientific meeting, even if just for a day or two, can be fairly expensive.” However, this year, with assistance from the Jack Hailman Memorial Fund, Dr. Bowman took his entire research team, including the interns, to the spring meeting of the Florida Ornithological Society held in Ruskin, Florida.
Dr. Jack Hailman (1936-2016) was a retired professor at the University of Wisconsin and a long-term collaborator of Archbold’s Avian Ecology Program. His wife asked that contributions in memory of Jack be directed to the Avian Ecology Program and she and Dr. Bowman agreed that funds be used to honor Jack’s commitment to teaching and mentorship. Dr. Bowman explained, “This year we used these funds to support intern attendance at the meeting of the Florida Ornithological Society, a state not-for-profit organization that, among many activities, promotes research and education about wild birds.” Each of the Archbold interns gave a 15 minute presentation, telling a compelling story about their research and why it matters. Each had to answer questions from the large audience. Jessica Greer, one of the interns who came to Archbold after her Bachelor’s in Natural Resources at Oregon State University said, “Attending the Florida Ornithological Society meeting gave us the opportunity to present our work at a scientific meeting that is a professional but less stressful environment, and to network with both professional and amateur ornithologists from throughout Florida. In addition, we were able to learn how citizen science projects—citizen volunteers who assist scientists in gathering vital data and information—are contributing to bird conservation in Florida”. The research team also spent a morning birding at Fort De Soto County Park and some of the interns got to see new bird species they would not likely see at Archbold. Dr. Bowman added, “These are the type of opportunities that make an internship at Archbold Biological Station a unique learning experience.”