Emily Golson ’08 spent summer with the Seabird Restoration Student Intern Program
When she left for the islands of Maine this summer, Emily Golson ’08 had little idea that birds would cause her life to take flight in so many ways. After she arrived at the National Audubon Society’s Seabird Restoration Project (better, and informally known as Project Puffin), Golson did field work on five islands managed by the society: Stratton, Jenny, Outer Green, Seal and Matinicus Rock islands. “I traveled by boat among the islands. Once I was on an island, I ate and worked in make-shift huts and slept in tents with the sound of waves in the distance as I went to bed at night, says Golson, a biology and environmental studies double major.
In addition to the “hard-core camping, Golson’s field work made a big impression on her. “The people at Audubon taught me quite a lot about these cute birds I work with, Golson explains. “I usually spent six hours a day in enclosed wooden structures called “blinds where I used a scope to monitor and calculate the census and productivity of various birds, including razorbills, puffins and terns. Sometimes I weighed, measured or banded the birds as well. Unfortunately, part of our job out there was predator control, mainly gulls.
Golson credits Assistant Professor of Biology Mark Deutschlander with sparking her interest in the Audubon program, and for prodding her into applying for it. As a native of California, “I figured I’m already across the country to be at HWS, why not spend the summer studying birds in Maine?
By pushing herself away from her familiar coast and comfort zone, Golson found more than just birds over the summer. “There were a lot of personal changes that happened out there. My internship caused me to become so much more confident in myself and in my abilities, Golson recalls.
“After working with such knowledgeable and friendly people at Audubon, my thoughts about my career and interests began to change as well, she says. “There’s a great deal of mortality in that type of work. The cycle of life becomes so clear; you are able to hold chicks that are the cutest cotton fluff-balls, then you are able to watch them live and thrive while others unavoidably die. I couldn’t help but be inspired by the experience, by professions like wildlife rehabilitation.
As she took off from the shores of Maine and landed once again in her east coast home of Geneva, Golson knew that she had changed thanks to the new perspective of her internship, her new bird’s-eye view.