Thanks to the United States Department of Agriculture Watershed Management Internship, several CSU Stanislaus students are gaining real-world experience in environmental sciences and management.
“I was able to conduct field work, use geospatial technology and learn about various National Forest Projects,” said Aldo Garcia, a CSU Stanislaus senior who is hoping to turn his passion for the environment into a career. “It was exciting, because the maps they use looked similar to various projects I have done at CSU Stanislaus. I consider this internship with the USDA as my gateway to the National Forest.”
The internship program is open to all California State University campuses that are federally designated as Hispanic-Serving Institutions. By leading underrepresented students into USDA careers, the internship program increases graduation rates.
Garcia – along with CSU Stanislaus students Oleta Piecuch, Michael Machado and Joshua Buchanan – was part of the first group of CSU Stanislaus to participate in the program last year.
Geography professors Peggy Hauselt and Austin Avwunudiogba advised the team while they used geographic information systems software to create maps of the Merced, Stanislaus and Tuolumne River watersheds.
The team also collected soil samples and measurements during field visits to the Tuolumne River watershed. Students combined their findings in the lab with data from state governmental agencies and configured it into a standard format for easier use. The team of students is using their findings to write a journal article that will be submitted for publication within the next few weeks.
A second group of CSU Stanislaus students have also begun work through the internship program, including Machado, Julianna Aguilar, Pedro Chacon, and Katrina Quadra. This group of students is working on advocacy for the Tuolumne River Trust, as well as teaching young students throughout the region about the river.
"I've always wanted to stay in education, either as a school teacher or professor," Aguilar said. "But this experience is really opening my eyes to the kinds of things many kids are unable to take part in. Many of the kids had never seen the ocean before and were really surprised when they learned that most rivers end up in the ocean.
"I am extremely thankful for CSU Stanislaus and the professors who work here. Without them, I would have never been aware of this internship and may not have been able to gain such an experience."
Students interested in the internship program should contact Hauselt at firstname.lastname@example.org.