crew (left to right): Chris Neufeld, Krista Cramer ,
Jay McEntee, and Lauren Baker
in the wild: a cello player, a Peace Corps volunteer, a musician
with an ear for bird song, and a Cal senior
NUEVO, CALIFORNIA -
Field biology attracts an interesting cast of characters.
Perhaps it is the allure of working with an exotic species
of wild animal or traveling to a wild, remote location that
piques the interest of so many recent college graduates.
Regardless, the young men and women that survey for Marbled
Murrelets, catch Spotted Owls, and track radio-collared
mountain lions are among the most interesting, colorful,
and fun people you will meet. They come from all walks of
life but are united by a common interest in the outdoors
and a desire to make a difference. The thought of an office
job would make most of them head for the high country.
I have supervised eight field crews of up ten people since
I started working with wildlife. These characters include
a young man with long blond hair wavering between a career
as a biologist and career as a rock star, a former prom
queen who is now one heck of a marksman and hunter, and
a 16-year sergeant in the U. S. Army who trained the tank
drivers of Desert Storm. Working long hours in remote areas,
often under harsh field conditions, inevitably forges a
strong bond among the field biologists, who often remain
friends for life. Despite tough working conditions, crew
members often spend their weekends backpacking and camping
in nearby forests and mountains.
This year I have been fortunate enough to be working with
one of the most fun, easy-going, yet hard working groups
of people so far.
Peery has agreed to answer your questions, time permitting.
McEntee is a recent graduate from the Department of Integrative
Biology at the University of California, Berkeley. He is
a fine guitar player and terrific birder that has finally
taught me to recognize some of the more obvious bird calls
in the area (that's an accomplishment indeed). He is leaving
for Tanzania in August for an entire year to oversee a research
project examining tropical forest fragmentation.
Cramer is a graduate from Cal Poly with an extraordinary
travel resume under her belt. She has worked as a Peace
Corps volunteer in Panama helping local farmers develop
sustainable agricultural practices and teaching English.
She recently returned from an extended stint in Jamaica
where she worked for the Smithsonian Institute studying
a small migratory bird called the American Redstart.
Neufeld just graduated from the University of Victoria,
British Columbia, Canada where he studied Marine Biology
and played cello in the University Symphony. Chris is an
experienced fisheries biologist, now branching out into
the bird world.
Baker is a senior at the University of California, Berkeley
who is working on a senior thesis examining the nesting
habitat preferences of Marbled Murrelets in the Santa Cruz
Mountains. More on her later
Together, this year's crew has made this field season a
delight. We have done a great job gathering data critical
for the management of the Marbled Murrelet, and have had
a great time in the process