Intern Experience: Louis Williams

Pepperwood’s Conservation Science Internship, a partnership with the statewide Mathematics, Engineering and Science Achievement (MESA) program, engages Santa Rosa Junior College (SRJC) students in critical wildlife camera research as they assist in evaluating and cataloging data from motion-activated cameras. They also collect data for our Sentinel Site by monitoring rain gages on a weekly basis. Get to know our past and present interns through this series of interviews. Responses are by the intern.

Louis Williams
Spring 2017 SRJC Conservation Science Intern

Louis Williams during his TeenNat internship at Pepperwood.

Pepperwood as my medium

My first experience with Pepperwood was when I did one of the Saturday public hikes. I remember learning so much that day about stuff that I love, in particular about reptiles and amphibians. Later I would join my sister at Pepperwood’s volunteer workdays, where she decided to lend a hand to get her required volunteer hours. I, however, did it just to be back on the preserve, and to learn more about the things that I have grown accustomed to. I was only 13 at the time, but I knew that Pepperwood would become a staple in what I am and what I want to be. The next six years of my life and counting would involve multiple internships and science projects involving Pepperwood, all the way up to getting my picture published in a news magazine. Not only that, it would lead me to feel a comfort that I did not think was possible.

When I heard that there was a TeenNat internship at Pepperwood for students in high school, it was as if I was living in a fantasy. However, the week before the internship started I felt a sharp pain in my side and was rushed to the hospital. To everyone’s surprise, I had gotten a kidney stone, and was forced to stay bedridden. My main concern was that would be unable to participate in the internship. Fortunately, my kidney stone did eventually pass…

…And I got to have one of my greatest experiences in my high school career.


Spring 2017 Pepperwood Conservation Science Interns (from left to right): Micaela Bush, Louis Williams, Clarissa Chambers, and Jennifer Cabrera

The internship was everything I had imagined, and then some. Not only did I meet some great teenagers with the same interests as me, I also learned more about future careers that interested me. We were contributing to some actual research projects, such as observing the conditions of sword ferns—important health indicators for the redwood trees around them. The person that I would like to thank the most for the internship is Jesse Robinson. He was our group leader and he made the experience both fun and educational. He also showed me other internships and jobs that involved all of the things that I enjoy. Finally, he was the one who gave me a letter of recommendation for the Conservation Science Internship I am currently in.

Spring 2017 Pepperwood Conservation Science Interns (from left to right): Louis Williams, Micaela Bush, Jennifer Cabrera, Clarissa Chambers

Pepperwood’s Conservation Science Internship is a 14-week paid internship that provides hands-on science experience to Santa Rosa Junior College students. Interns learn about the importance of rainfall by monitoring rain gauges throughout the preserve, and identify wild animals captured by Pepperwood’s motion-activated cameras to determine which species are present in that particular area. By the end of the internship, I had learned so much more about the preserve and nature than I thought I ever could. One of the best pictures I have seen was a skunk chasing off a coyote, and that is a picture that I will always have in my memory.

One of the best qualities about Pepperwood is that there is always more to learn.

Pepperwood has meant so much to me that it is too hard to just describe in words. It has been and still is my medium of learning about the environment and the professions that I want to stride for. Because of this, I would like to thank all the staff for allowing me to evolve my future into the one that I had only dreamed of previously.


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