Friends Help Young Scientists Launch Careers

Feb 13, 2019 | Friends, South Slough, Oregon

The Friends or Oregon’s South Slough Reserve provide opportunities for young scientists like Kanoe Lizama (above) to get the experience they need to find jobs in environmental science. Photos courtesy Kanoe Lizama.

After Kanoelani (Kanoe) Lizama graduated from Colorado Mesa University with a degree in environmental science and technology, she was ready to put her education to work. When she started to look for a position, however, she found her degree was not enough for prospective employers who wanted candidates with relevant work experience. Then she discovered an internship opportunity sponsored by the Friends of South Slough Reserve.

“This position offered a range of hands on experience working directly with the Reserve’s research and monitoring staff, and so I applied without hesitation,” says Kanoe.

Kanoe became the 2018 System Wide Water Quality Monitoring Intern. She worked with South Slough Reserve staff Ali Helms and Adam DeMarzo on projects involving water quality, nutrients, and meteorological monitoring. She also assisted with the Reserve’s ocean acidification and Environmental DNA (eDNA) seining projects.


“The experience taught me useful skills for lab and field work, but the the biggest take away was understanding the impacts that estuaries such as South Slough face due to human and natural related causes, observes Kanoe. “We monitored native eelgrass, which has dramatically declined in the estuary over the past decade. There is a need for greater awareness in protecting natural resources in coastal areas.”

Kanoe had another big aha moment. Oregon is not only beautiful—it’s an interesting place to live and work.

“Being exposed to Oregon’s beautiful coastline and forests greatly influenced my recent move from Hawaii to Oregon,” she says. “This opportunity also allowed me to network with professionals in the environmental field and gave me a better understanding as to what their days look like—this helps me feel more comfortable as I continue to pursue this career.”

Friends also sponsored Real Time Kinetic/Geographic Information Systems Intern Alycia Lenzen, a graduate of Oregon State University in 2018. Alycia worked with Reserve staff Jenni Schmitt to collect marsh elevation data, conduct habitat mapping accuracy surveys, and establish benchmarks at restoration and monitoring sites.

South Slough Reserve staff and Friends are seeking funding for 2019 interns. Interested in helping young scientists launch their careers? Contact South Slough Reserve Public Involvement Coordinator Deborah Rudd: // 541.888.5558, ext. 158.

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