An Amazing Journey From Intern to Zoologist

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In fall 2021, a Bowie State University biology student, Muhannad Alghamdi, attended a presentation given by the Service’s Ela Carpenter about urban wildlife biology through his Field Biology class. He and his classmates learned how to set up trail cameras to monitor wildlife at Patuxent Research Refuge. His interest in wildlife management continued to grow. In January 2022, Muhannad participated in the first public mammals inventory program at Masonville Cove Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnership in Baltimore, Maryland. 

That summer, Muhannad entered into the Masonville Cove Partnership's Urban Conservation and Education Internship (UCEI). The six-week program provides interns with opportunities to explore environmental careers; network with mentors in the environmental and conservation sectors; assist with outdoor environmental education programs; and engage in outdoor community programming and wildlife conservation and monitoring. 

During his internship, Muhannad worked with members of the Masonville Cove Partnership, including Service biologists with the Chesapeake Bay Field Office and Patuxent Research Refuge and the Living Classrooms Foundation. Part of his UCEI experience included assisting with the summer outdoor education program for children at Masonville Cove, the free fishing program for underserved communities, and numerous wildlife field trips. 

Now, two years later, Muhannad is a zoologist at a nature reserve in Saudi Arabia. One of his first projects is an intensive 200-to-300 trail camera survey to monitor a variety of wildlife, from carnivores to herbivores.

“Working as an intern in the Urban Conservation and Education program opened my eyes to different fields within environmental science,” said Muhannad. “It helped me have a deeper understanding of the environment and guided me to find my path through all the people that I met through the internship. I met a lot of experts working in urban conservation, and all of them had amazing insights on the work and nature. That made me search more about majors in the environment field, and I found zoology.”

Muhannad recently reached back out to urban biologist Ela Carpenter to discuss techniques for utilizing trail cameras as well as ways to engage local hunters and farmers near the reserve.

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Urban refuge