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PBI's Conservation Science

Internship Program

intern group

PBI's conservation science internship program provides excellent training opportunities for young scientists who can make significant lifetime contributions to creating a better world. Our interns receive intensive training in conservation biology, ecology, wildlife biology, botany, mapping and spatial analysis (GIS), aerial-photo and satellite image interpretation, volunteer coordination, outreach, videography, and photography - all applied to cutting-edge environmental and conservation topics. PBI is expanding our conservation science internship program in 2014 to include three new interns. We have also expanded our internship program to South America!

Gisella Peralta is a young Argentine biologist who finished her 5-year professional degree in 2013. She is working out of PBI's new office in Cordoba, Argentina and is providing valuable assistance to our Argentine conservation biologist, Lucila Castro. Gisella is learning GIS mapping skills applied to wildland conservation and is engaged in research and report writing and is helping to classify thousands of photographs of a multitude of species that have been observed on PBI biodiversity expeditions. Gisella will co-lead an expedition to biodiversity hotspots in northern Argentina in December, 2014.

Katrina Fisk, a 2013 University of Washington graduate in environmental studies, is working from our Winthrop, Washington office to expand our conservation research focused on ponderosa pine forests and their key wildlife species (see sidebar).

Katrina MacIver is a young marine biologist and ecologist with a Master's degree in Marine Mammal Science from St. Andrews University in Scotland. She will assist in research on the role of the harbor porpoise as a sentinel species in the Salish Sea. She will work in our new Anacortes office analyzing data from our photo-ID project and other acoustic and visual data that indicates porpoise population status. You will frequently find her on the bluffs overlooking Burrows Pass, working with citizen science volunteers collecting observational data on the porpoise, or out on a boat retrieving data from our C-POD acoustic monitors. She will also help PBI scientists investigate the effect of boat noise on marine wildlife.

harbor porpoise

The goals of our conservation science internship program are to provide an opportunity for interns to experience how innovative scientific research, public education and outreach activities can further the conservation of nature and help create a better future for all. We aim to inspire and educate these young scientists so that they are equipped to "be the change" they wish to see in the world. By offering interns the opportunity to work on real-world conservation science projects, they can see their efforts making a lasting contribution. We have a 16-year track record in this endeavor and have numerous examples of interns who are now working in important conservation and science positions around the world. Our investment in these interns usually has huge, long-term payoffs as they go on through their careers to help protect nature and make a better world.

Our interns are a critical part of all of our important projects, and we ask you to support them by giving as generously as you can. We cannot do our work alone. Our programs require collaboration among community partners, PBI staff and interns, and citizen scientists-as well as donors like you. Please know that a tax-deductible gift, at whatever level is comfortable to you, is hugely appreciated and makes a real difference to all of our ambitious conservation projects. See below for another example!

South America Conservation Focus:
Sierra de Famatina

sierra de famatina

Pacific Biodiversity Institute is working with other conservation organizations, agencies and scientists at local, national and international levels to help protect a large wildland complex in Argentina and Chile that includes the Sierra de Famatina, the high central Andes and much more. This enormous roadless area (over 6.6 million acres) extends from the deserts of central Chile across the high Andes deep into central Argentina. It is one of the largest remaining roadless areas in the world. This area includes the second, third and fourth highest peaks in the western hemisphere, including Nevado Ojos del Salado, the highest volcano in the world (22615 feet). While much of the area is covered by spectacular mountains, the wildland extends down into lush, high-biodiversity valleys. There are numerous wild rivers and beautiful streams surrounded by lush riparian corridors. Many of the mountain slopes are covered with very diverse deciduous forests, woodlands and beautiful cardon cactus forests.

This area has been identified as an important global Center for Plant Diversity by the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Center and contains over 50 mammal species and over 150 bird species. The Sierra de Famatina is a unique and magical place. This wildland complex has tremendous ecological diversity. The year-round snows of the Sierra de Famatina are visible from hundreds of kilometers away and provide fresh water to local farming communities that flourish at the base of the mountains. These communities thrive by using centuries-old, sustainable agricultural traditions.

While this area has immense conservation value it is also imminently threatened. The Sierra de Famatina has received international attention because of huge gold deposits near the crest of the range and the struggle of the local people to protect these mountains. The gold deposits have been lusted and fought over by the largest gold mining companies in the world and are estimated to value over three trillion dollars. But the people living in the farming communities below the mountain range have been united in opposition to the megaminaria (international mining corporations). The slogan of local people’s struggle to protect the Sierra de Famatina has gone viral throughout South America and has empowered many similar struggles: “El agua y la vida vale más que el oro. El Famatina no se toca!” (Water and life is worth more than gold. You can’t take the Famatina!). So far, they have prevailed over the international mining corporations to prevent the destruction of these mountains by putting their bodies and lives on the line and through their skillful work on the political front.

PBI has teamed up with local residents, conservation activists and the administration, faculty and students of the Universidad Nacional de Chilecito (located at the base of the Sierra de Famatina) to work on a long-term solution to this conflict. Our ultimate goal is the creation of Parque Nacional Sierra de Famatina. The local people, our Argentine staff, volunteers, students and all the key partners are ready to work hard to make this happen. We have developed a joint strategy for moving the battle to protect the Sierra de Famatina from direct action to long-term protection through influencing key decision-makers and power brokers to create a permanent protected area. PBI is devoting a substantial portion of our special reserve funds to the effort and the university has offered a financial match. Will you help, too?

Photos: Courtesy of Roberto Fiadone (Wikimedia Commons) and Peter Morrison (Pacific Biodiversity Institute)

Pacific Biodiversity Institute

Blazing the trail for conservation in the 21st century
PO Box 298, Winthrop, WA 98862


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Pacific Biodiversity Institute is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.
PBI works throughout North and South America, with a home-base in Washington's Methow Valley.

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Pacific Biodiversity Institute

a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization

May 2014

Katrina Fisk

Intern Profile: Katrina Fisk

Katrina Fisk has joined PBI in our Winthrop office, and will assist in research and citizen scientist engagement in support of the ponderosa pine ecosystem project. This project includes study of western gray squirrels and other key species within the ponderosa pine ecosystem. If you live, or own property, in the Methow Valley, you can help Katrina with this research! Call 509-996-2490 to learn more.

Katrina is a 2013 graduate of the University of Washington, with a Bachelor degree in environmental studies. She is passionate about research and conservation, and plans to specialize in studying the role of invasive species in forest habitat.

Katrina has extensive experience with field research focused on hydrology and invasion ecology, as well as coursework in research writing, statistics, conservation biology and GIS. She has also participated in volunteer efforts to remove invasive plants and replace them with native species. Since graduating, she has continued to work with Dr. Dave Stokes (PBI's board president), researching an invasion ecology report on English Holly. Her statistical analysis has provided conclusive results on the threat this invasive species poses to state parks, and the report will soon be presented to the Washington State Parks Department.


South America Wildlands & Biodiversity Presentations

PBI's executive director, Peter Morrison, recently gave two presentations in the Seattle area. His first presentation, to the Kitsap Audbon Society, highlighted the tremendous avian diversity in areas of significant conservation importance in South America. He introduced the work that PBI is doing in South America, and the local scientists and conservation partners with whom we work.

The second event was part of the "PhinneyWood Artwalk" in Seattle, where Peter presented images and videos taken in the wildlands of South America. At both events, he provided information about opportunities to join upcoming expeditions.

sierra de famatina stream

south america map

A Special Thanks to PBI's
Major Funders

Kongsgaard-Goldman Foundation
Charlotte Martin Foundation
The Orange County Community Foundation
The Mountaineers Foundation
The Center for Biological Diversity
WA Dept of Fish and Wildlife
The Craig and Jean Olson Fund

We would also like to thank all of our generous individual donors!

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