Education, Outdoors, Science

Abigail Bobbette Reflects on Her SCA Internship in Kenai Fjords National Park

Abigail Bobbette, SCA Conservation Intern at Kenai Fjords National Park

Hello! I am Abigail Bobbette, a Student Conservation Association intern working for Kenai Fjords National Park as a member of the Exotic Plant Management Team. I am from Piseco, a small town in the Adirondacks in upstate New York. As a rising senior at the State University of New York at Geneseo, I am majoring in Biology with a minor in Environmental Studies. My internship with Kenai Fjords National Park is my first experience working outside of New York…and I love it! Alaska has treated me well with the beautiful scenery and wildlife.  

The Student Conservation Association (SCA) focuses on creating a new generation of conservationists by offering internships to young adults all over the United States. These positions vary, but unite people based on their love for the outdoors and passion for its protection. Each position allows the member to gain valuable hands-on experience in order to pursue a career in conservation.   At Kenai Fjords there are four SCA interns working at the park this summer: a media intern, education assistant, visitor and resource protection intern, and myself. We all work closely with veteran staff of the National Park Service who push and mentor us in our respective fields.

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The Exotic Plant Management Team monitors and controls non-native plant infestations found in the park.  Non-native species can outcompete native species, taking the nutrients and resources the native plants need to grow.  By removing these invasive plants the native species can flourish. When treating a site, data is collected to document its location so it can be revisited in the future.  One of my responsibilities is to use a GPS unit to map not only the location, but the area of each invasive plant population so that year after year the changes in the size of the infestation and number or plants can be tracked. In addition to the control of invasive plants, the team also collects native seeds that are stored and used for future restoration projects in disturbed areas around the park. It is very rewarding knowing that I am helping to preserve the ecological integrity of such a beautiful place.

As part of this team I have been given many awesome opportunities. Going out on the park boat to the remote coastal areas and being able to see parts of the fjords that have very little human influence was truly remarkable. I also assisted with other projects going on in the resource management division and got to hike the Harding Icefield Trail on a regular basis. Getting to see the vast icefield and the beauty of Exit Glacier never gets old. 

As my summer at the park comes to a close, I am extremely grateful for all of the amazing things I was able to learn at Kenai Fjords National Park. This place will forever have a special place in my heart. From the wonderful people I met here in Alaska and the important skills I learned, to the endless beauty, it is a one-of-a-kind place and I look forward to returning someday!

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