SCA interns not afraid to get their hands dirty

University of Wisconsin-Green Bay
Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Student Conservation Association (SCA) takes hands-on experiences for their interns to a whole new level. There’s no answering the phones or running simple errands. Instead, students can be monitoring endangered sea turtles during their nesting season or designing curriculum for elementary school students based on the seed germination of wetland plants.

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Since 2005, six University of Wisconsin-Green Bay students have been chosen to participate in SCA internships - some are participating for the second time during their college career.

Senior Angela Ryczkowski, an Urban and Regional Studies major, completed her SCA internship as a “FIREMON” (fire inventory and effects monitoring) for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and spent six months working in South Dakota and Nebraska. She spent most days identifying and measuring vegetation and fuels on plots using specific FIREMON protocol. Her work wasn’t without its share of disruption and a bit of excitement.

“It was rare that we’d have an entire uninterrupted day of work between curious but friendly bison, malfunctioning GPS units, getting extremely lost and visits in the field from tribal members,” Ryczkowski said.

Regardless of how the day went, she said the experience was invaluable.

“Working as a member of the reservation fire crew was truly priceless,” she says. “I was able to experience aspects of tribal life that I couldn’t imagine even catching glimpses of if I were simply traveling or working with reservations in any other facet.”

The SCA provides 2,000 students across the country practical experience in their chosen area of conservation. With about 50 different areas of work, ranging from archaeology to trail maintenance, from studying habitat restoration at a wildlife refuge to becoming a tour guide at a national park. There are opportunities in all 50 states.

The length of each internship ranges from 12 weeks to 12 months, depending on the task. To learn more about the SCA, visit its web site at www.thesca.org or check with UW-Green Bay Career Services personnel for the latest opportunities from the SCA.

Ryczkowski’s post-graduate plans are yet to be determined but graduate school is definitely in the mix and another post with the SCA is appealing.

“I do plan to pursue graduate school within the next five years,” she said. “More immediately, I’m keeping my eyes open for another SCA, AmeriCorps, or short-term employment position that I find appealing. Otherwise, I’m considering everything ranging from a cross-country bike ride or hike to becoming an officer in the military.

By Lauren Muench, former intern, UW-Green Bay Office of Marketing and Communication