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Greenburgh Nature Center internship. by Thomas Tevnan

May 15, 2023

During the spring of 2023 I interned at the Greenburgh Nature Center where I worked closely with Travis Brady on projects that served as references to guide the maintenance of the property. The property is a 33-acre nature preserve that has been operating since 1975; it includes a variety of trails and different animals and birds to see so the public can be educated and be inspired to become involved to make changes that can benefit our environment.

I spent the most time working on surveying the amount of amphibian species that use the local vernal pool called Wood Frog Pond for breeding; I was told that the most common amphibians to look out for were Wood frogs and Spotted Salamanders. Vernal pools are seasonal bodies of water that fill up during the spring season thanks to a higher amount of precipitation and snowmelt; during the time before they dry up in the summer frogs and salamanders use these environments to breed their young in a predator free space. Every day I was at the nature center I would spend time observing the pond for frogs and turning over logs near the pond for any salamanders that were hiding beneath them; for the first half of my time there I was not able to find any amphibians thanks to the cold weather. Once the weather started to warm up I was able to find at least 9 frogs a day using the pond and calling to other frogs, close to the end of my internship I found two salamanders hiding under a large log. With these findings we knew that frogs and salamanders were using the pond for breeding as they should; the safe environment of the pond gives them the chance to safely produce offspring.

The time I spent working at the nature center gave me some perspective on how impactful large scale projects can be when comparing it to future studies relating to how climate change can impact vernal pools and whether they can still be usable in the future. Also networking with Travis and others that I spoke to and worked with while I was there showed me how much they value their work at the nature center; educating the public is one of the main priorities they emphasize at the nature center since it is one of the reasons why the property was established. But the work I did helps in establishing the facts that other staff and volunteers can use to educate the public; any shift in the quality of the vernal pool will have an impact on the breeding of amphibians in the future especially if the pool becomes unusable for the species that use it.

Working outdoors really interests me best which is another aspect I learned from my time here and it is something I would like to keep doing in my future, also with the big focus on ecological based work I did for the nature center I see myself working within the ecology field for my career. The idea of studying how organisms interact with their environment has interested me since coming to Purchase College; but with my time at the nature center that interest doubled for me and it seems like the right path for me to follow.