A Year in the Life: of a Grizzly Corps Research Tech

My name is Makayla Freed, and I’m Pepperwood’s Research Technician. In September, I celebrated one year at Pepperwood as a GrizzlyCorps Fellow. GrizzlyCorps is an AmeriCorps program created by UC Berkeley’s Center for Law, Energy & the Environment, which gives college graduates the opportunity to do important work promoting regenerative agriculture and/or fire and forest resilience.

Although my time at Pepperwood started way back in the fall of 2016, I hopped on board full-time in September 2021 as a GrizzlyCorps Fellow after years of volunteering, interning, and working seasonally at the reserve. The Fellowship has allowed me to take on a full-time role on Pepperwood’s Research and Preserve Management (RPM) team, working with the research folks on a variety of projects.

In the past year, I’ve been in over my hard hat in forest monitoring, grassland monitoring, bear scat surveys, and much much more. I’ve learned an enormous amount about forest monitoring protocols, serviced wildlife cameras for Pepperwood’s Wildlife Picture Index (WPI) project, and collected phenological data for the Phenology Project, all while gaining a unique perspective of the great deal of work Pepperwood’s RPM team does to steward and monitor the land and wildlife. This year, I will continue in the same role, but will take on more responsibilities with several projects including the Phenology Project and the forest monitoring projects.

My time in this fellowship is truly flying by, but I’m having a blast learning new things and falling more in love with Pepperwood each day. So much passion and dedication is part of our work here, and I continue to be amazed by the people and the place that make up this fantastic organization.


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