Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (SAMO): Public Participatory Science for Climate Monitoring Through the California Phenology Project

NPS Unit: Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (SAMO)
Location: Thousand Oaks, California
Project Title:   Public Participatory Science for Climate Monitoring Through the California Phenology Project
Pay: Interns will be paid $12/hour for a total of 480 hours.
Position Description: Phenology is the seasonal timing of life cycle events like leaf-out, flowering, migration, breeding activity. The timing of such events is sensitive to changing climate, so tracking phenology over time is an important and relatively easy way to understand how species and communities are affected by climate change.  Such tracking requires a lot of data collected over large areas and for many years. Training and enlisting the public in making observations of plant phenology is necessary to acquire such data, and to engage non-specialists in fun and interesting science. To that end, Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area is part of a statewide citizen-science phenology monitoring program called the California Phenology Project.The intern will fulfill two primary park needs: 1) lead our park citizen science phenology monitoring program and 2) develop interpretative materials on climate change and the phenology program for park visitors (both actual and virtual visitors).  The intern will coordinate volunteer phenologists and work with our park partner, NatureBridge, to involve elementary, middle, and high school classes in phenology monitoring.  The intern will work with the park’s Resource Management and Interpretation staff to develop materials for the public specifically related to the phenology program and anticipated climate change impacts to resources at our park.
Learning goals: The intern will learn:

  • Anticipated climate changes for southern California
  • Potential impacts to park resources including vegetation, birds, reptiles, and mammals
  • What phenology is, why it’s important, and how it’s studied
  • How to identify the phenophases of park target species
  • What the park is doing to learn and adapt to future climate changes
  • How the park is working to reduce our carbon footprint
  • How the public can reduce their carbon footprint
Mentoring: The intern will have three primary mentors: Christy Brigham Chief of Resources Management at SAMO and California Phenology Project lead for SAMO.  Christy will orient the intern and provide him/her with information on the phenology project, climate change at SAMO, and park operations.  Crystal Anderson, phenology assistant at the park, will lead the intern in the field and orient him/her to field operations.  Lisa Okazaki, Education Specialist at SAMO, will orient the intern to interpretation and help the intern with interpretative writing.  Meg Jakubowski, NatureBridge lead, will work with the intern on NatureBridge programming for the project.
Qualifications: Botany would be helpful.  Writing composition would be helpful.  Some background in education would be helpful.  Must be able to hike, carry at least 25 pounds (field equipment) and walk long distances.  Must be interested in working with youth and looking at plants in the field for hours on end.  Some background in biology or ecology or climate science would be very helpful. Must be patient.  Must LOVE plants. Fluency in Spanish helpful so that some materials can be produced in Spanish.
Position Dates: Prefer 3/11/2012 through 5/31/2012 in order to overlap with NatureBridge programming and school schedule but can be somewhat flexible.
Housing Available: Shared room in dormitory is available.  Park will pay cost.
Vehicle/License Required: Intern needs a personal vehicle to get from dormitory to park work sites.
Work Environment: Work will involve hiking on long, hot, steep, dusty trails and through dense shrubbery.