Name: Liliana Calderon
College: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Major: Integrative Biology
Project Site: Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge
Hey there! I am Lily and I’m so excited to be interning with Environment for the Americas this year. It’s an honor to be working with an organization that is focused on avian conservation and outreach, two things I am very passionate about. I really hope to be able to reach out to as many people as possible and to teach them about the environment and how they play a part. I am from Illinois so traveling across the country for this opportunity definitely adds to the excitement.
I was born and raised in the city of Chicago. Living in a city that revolves around finance and commerce makes it a little difficult to get in tune with nature. Thankfully for me, my dad thought it was important for the family to explore the outdoors so we took many trips to the nearby forest preserve. About five years ago I traded in skyscrapers for cornfields when I went away for college. I had my mind set on becoming a veterinarian, but an ecology course I took my sophomore year inspired me to become a field biologist. The thought of having a career where I am able to be outside and conduct research motivated me to dive into as many field jobs as possible.
My first field experience consisted of a group of twenty students, two professors, and a T.A. camping, hiking, and canoeing through Northern Florida/ Southern Georgia. I had an amazing time and it reassured my interests in field biology. Since then I have been involved in many projects. I have collected soil macroinvertebrates on a tallgrass prairie, chased white-faced capuchins through a muddy tropical rainforest, monitored for invasive insects in an urban landscape, and I’ve remained stationary for many hours on end observing maroon-fronted parrots on a mountain in Mexico.
By now it is probably a given that I love to travel and even more obvious that I enjoy being out in the wilderness. If I am able to inspire at least one other person to appreciate and take care of the environment I would feel so accomplished.
Interests: I really enjoy hiking, riding my bike, and bird watching when the weather is nice. I really like to listen to music and I try to go to as many concerts as possible. And of course I love spending time with my family. I have five brothers and a dog so there is never a dull moment!
Long-term Goals: I plan on applying to graduate school next fall. I hope to be able to conduct research on either birds or insects, the animal groups I find most interesting. In the meantime I plan on becoming involved in as many field jobs and/or conservation related projects as possible.
Hello there! My name is Brenda and I’m from Los Angeles, California. I’m driving up a long way to share my passion and knowledge of the environment with the people of Oregon. I was born and raised in different parts of Los Angeles, so for most of my life I was surrounded by the city with few opportunities to be out in the big outdoors. That all changed when I went to college and moved further north to attend UC Santa Barbara. With the beach a short walk away from campus, and mountains a bus ride away, I started to spend every moment I could exploring the outdoors and learning about the local plants and wildlife.
Growing up I often watched the mourning doves outside my yard, and learned what I could through an old encyclopedia lying around the house. Language was a huge barrier to my education when I was younger, which is why I support programs that work past language differences. Thankfully, once I entered high school I had a lot of teachers that started seeing potential in me and helped me excel in my classes. I had a very knowledgeable (and very strict) biology teacher who helped shape my interest in ecology. All these factors have taught me the importance of having good teachers and have inspired me to be a good teacher in return.
This is such an amazing opportunity, and I am excited to be meeting and working with such great people. There were many things that I did not have access to as a child, and now my aim is to help change the circumstances for others. I know I have a lot of growing to do, a lot of places to see, and loads to learn. I always regret that I didn’t get as early a start as everyone else, but I am making up for lost time and soaking up everything I can! I hope to continue to be a positive source in the community and use what I learn throughout this internship to help make a difference.
Interests: Watching cartoons and drawing my favorite characters. Crafts, jewelry making, art, and redesigning clothes. My most favorite thing to do is to walk along the beach to see all the neat critters and stuff that wind up on the shore.
Long-Term Goal: To travel a lot and continue to work on outreach and community involvement.