One task that was asked of us interns was to interview a supervisor for our site. Here in California, we have a lot of people that we are working with like Amanda Ankenbrandt and Dave Feliz from the Elkhorn Slough Reserve, Carleton Eyster from PRBO, and Chris Caris from Salinas Wildlife Refuge. Every single person that we have come to work with during this internship has given Hugo and I a tremendous amount of knowledge and opportunities that are just not possible in a classroom setting.For this blog post, we decided to write about Rick Hanks, who was the first person to take us out bird watching way back during our training week.

If you were to ask me who Rick Hanks was, I would have to sit you down and give you a really long list of incredible achievements that this person has accomplished so far. If you wanted to start from the beginning, the initial spark of interest in wildlife and history for Rick came from him winning second place  in a wildlife essay contest in Virginia, while he was in middle school. He later when on to study anthropology and archaeology, because it allowed him to work outdoors. He was a teacher in Ventura College in California, and also became the 1st district archaeologist for the Bureau of Land Management, when he started working for them 40 years ago. If you weren’t impressed with that information, know that Rick is second cousins with Actor Tom Hanks, and is down the line related to Abraham Lincoln, our U.S. 16th president!

Now I forgot to mention that this interview that I was conducting took place along the California Coastline. That day, Rick and I were monitoring the Black-Oystercatchers at one of our sites on the California Coastal National Monument. An area where Rick was manager of for 11 1/2 years. I use past tense because if there was one thing that Rick would want you to know about him, it is that he is now retired. You probably couldn’t tell that Rick was retired, because he is still out there with us monitoring every week. That’s why every photo we have of rick is with him looking into his binoculars. But I know that he is enjoying his retirement status, because to him, everyday feels like a Saturday.

Rick initially got involved with EFTA because it was an opportunity to focus on what no one else was looking at, the Black-Oystercatchers. He has enjoyed working us two interns, because we took minimal direction, we were learning-by-doing, and we were being exposed to a lot of different things. He tells me that diversity is key, and looking at things holistically is important, especially when thinking about what are the disturbances that are putting species like the Black-Oystercatcher at risk. Working with Rick, and all of the wonderful professionals we get to work with this summer has given Hugo and I a tremendous opportunity to find our own paths within the field of science/conservation. We thank all of you for your support and guidance.

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