The observatory, the first and only in Ecuador that offers long-term, year-round monitoring, research, conservation, education and outreach, immerses interns in field studies that expose them to a range of ornithological techniques, including mist-netting, bird banding, identification and handling techniques, GPS navigation and data management, and conservation practices.
Young, who majored in biology and minored in environmental studies, says the experience also offers a rare opportunity “to see new birds from those at home and to experience birds that only occur in South America.”
It was her first-year seminar with Professor of Biology Mark Deutschlander, “The Avian Persuasion,” that was “the spark for my love of birds,” says Young, who went on to take ornithology and complete an independent study with Deutschlander.
In the summer of 2017, Young earned a highly competitive internship at the Puffin Project, an effort led by the National Audubon Society to restore puffins to historic nesting islands in the Gulf of Maine.
During that internship, she developed ornithological skills that would serve her well at Jama-Coaque. With the Puffin Project, Young was responsible for observing courtship feedings, when male puffins bring fish to the females, and later in the season, adults feeding chicks. She recorded weather and sea conditions and banded and measured chicks to record growth and mortality rates.
Young hopes to enroll in graduate school and eventually to teach biology. Her most recent experience in Ecuador, she says, “has given me experience with another culture and close experience with one particular part of biology that would assist my teaching of the subject.”
As a student, Young also studied abroad in Queensland, Australia.