Sophomore Park Scholar Rachel Turner, an animal science major, recently completed a summer internship at the Sandy Hook Unit of the Gateway National Recreation Area in New Jersey.
Gateway is administered by the National Park Service and encompasses a diverse ecosystem which includes ocean beaches, maritime forests and freshwater ponds. Nearly 300 species of birds use the area during fall and spring migration.
Over the summer, Turner worked as part of a team that identified and monitored nests of the Piping Plover. The team then constructed more than 30 metal fences to protect the nests. The Piping Plover is a federally endangered species and first received protection under the Endangered Species Act in 1985. Only approximately 100 pairs of the bird currently exist in the area surrounding the state of New Jersey. ”With nearly a third of the population at Sandy Hook, the work I did this summer was vital to their survival,” Turner said.
In addition to her work with the Plovers, Rachel was involved in a project where she banded Osprey chicks so that data can be collected from the birds in the future. She also assisted with efforts to oversee water quality in the area.
”As a result of my Park Scholarship, I was able to spend the summer learning more about conservation and working hands-on to save endangered birds,” Turner said.