Biology students spend the summer in career-related internships


tyler cerny with a lynx kitten

Tyler Cerny participated in occupancy surveys for animals including boreal toads, big horn sheep, black swifts and golden eagles, during his summer internship. Pictured, he assisted Colorado Parks and Wildlife with a study on the lynx population in Colorado.

The Adams State University Biology Program successfully placed nearly all their upper division organismal biology students in internships last summer. Students had the opportunity to work in the professional field from the Monte Vista Wildlife Refuge to a zoo in Pennsylvania.

Out of 13 upper division students, eight students spent the summer working and learning in their chosen field. Students included Tyler Cerny, Taylor Bedford Chick, Zachary Chrisman, Warren Curley, Nicole M. Cyr, Taelor Ashton Mullins, Tayler Ann Rocha, Jose Romero and Samantha Teti, who expressed their appreciation for the opportunity and the Biology Program.

Cerny, a junior majoring in Wildlife Biology and Environmental Science minor completed his internship with the US Forest Service and the Rio Grande National Forest Divide District. He appreciated the experience. "In the field of wildlife biology experience is a very important aspect when seeking a career." After graduation, he hopes to work for Colorado Parks and Wildlife as a District Wildlife Manager or attend graduate school studying some subset of ornithology working with waterfowl. "I also appreciate the people I was fortunate enough to work for and with."

A senior in Wildlife Biology, Chick spent his fourth summer working at the Rio Grande State Wildlife Area. A position that means being outdoors and learning how to manage a state wildlife area fits in with his career goal of working for Colorado Parks and Wildlife as a District Wildlife Manager.

A third year wildlife biology major and business management minor, Chrisman spent his first internship working for Colorado Parks and Wildlife, out of Monte Vista. "I appreciated my boss, Tony Aloia with the amount of trust he gave me as well as how much he taught me." After graduation, he plans to pursue a career as a District Wildlife Manager for the state of Colorado.

For her first formal internship, Cyr worked for the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) in Monte Vista. A senior wildlife biology major with an environmental science minor, she hopes to become a biologist for the USFWS after graduation. "Throughout the internship, the permanent employees treated the other interns and I like employees rather than college interns."

edgar escobedo, tayler ann rocha, and stefan armenta pose in front of mt blanca

Pictured, during her summer internship, Adams State biology student Tayler Ann Rocha (middle) conducted shorebird surveys at Blanca wetlands to monitor the use of the area during spring and fall migration, and determine number and species that utilize the area for breeding. She is pictured with fellow Adams State students Edgar Escobedo and Stefan Armenta who were Environment for America's interns in the San Luis Valley.

Rocha, a junior studying to earn a degree in organismal biology and an associate's in physical geography with a GIS emphasis, completed her internship in Monte Vista at the Bureau of Land Management field office for the Environment for the Americas. She appreciated having a new position, and learning about shorebird identification and how to do outreach to youth. "Through this internship I grew, I gained confidence in myself and I was able to develop new relationships. The most challenging thing about this internship was learning how to give presentations to proper audience levels and learning how to be a good leader." After graduation she plans to obtain a master's degree in a biology related field.

samantha teti and another female intern handle a 35 pound blood python

Samantha Teti (on right) handles a 35 pound blood python with another intern.

Not all the student stayed in the SLV for their internships. Teti, a senior in the Wildlife Biology program, completed her internship with the Lehigh Valley Zoo in Pennsylvania. "I was able to learn about a variety of animals from reptiles, to mammals, to birds of prey. I also appreciated that I was able to educate the public." She has also interned with the Crown Ridge Tiger Sanctuary in Missouri. After graduation Teti plans to pursue a career in conservation of big cats.

Supportive biology program

Teti believes students can establish good connections with each other as well as the professors at Adams State. "I really like all my professors, but I have been able to get the closest with Dr. Matthew Steffenson (assistant professor of biology), Dr. Tim Armstrong, (professor of biology) and Dr. Kristi Duran (associate professor of biology)."

The close-knit program at Adams State "feels like a small family" to Chick and knowledgeable, passionate professors connect with their students. Chrisman agrees: "My favorite part of the Adams State biology program is the small class size and hands-on laboratory exercises."

Due to relationships between students and professors, Cyr feels comfortable enough in class to ask questions and glean more out of lectures than she would with a larger class size. "I really enjoy all of the professors and appreciate the different teaching styles."

Along with the biology faculty, Cerny values the STEM Center, located on the third floor of Porter Hall. "I have spent countless nights studying for hours and appreciate everything they do to help students succeed." He said Armstrong offers advice "that can be valued for a lifetime," and Duran "will help you understand a topic if it is the last thing she does. She is always willing to help, talk, and shares her knowledge in her field appropriately."

Rocha said the biology program is rigorous and doesn't let students just coast. "I enjoy that the program makes you take classes that help deepen your understanding of science like chemistry and physics."