Red Bay native completes internship
Federal public lands budgets have tightened, jobs have been cut, and positions have not been backfilled when employees move or retire. Interns are the answer for many agencies, like the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at the Lower Suwannee and Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuges (NWR) in Florida.
Zachary Hubbard, a senior Forestry major at Mississippi State, moved from his home in Red Bay, to the bunkhouse at the Lower Suwannee NWR, along the last 20 miles of the historic Suwannee River. This is not the touristy part of Florida, but the area known as the nature coast, known for its timber market, watermelon, cattle and dairy industries. The heat and humidity are oppressive, keeping summer tourists at bay.
The Southeast Regional Forester put out an announcement to schools of forestry alerting them to internships available at certain National Wildlife Refuges. Hubbard applied immediately and was offered a job near Florida’s Big Bend on the Gulf.
Some days, Hubbard supervised the summertime volunteers while they cruised timber. He helped to plant 2,500 long leaf pines, build a bridge over a tidal creek on the coast, and build bluebird boxes that were installed throughout the Refuge.
He was key in identifying wading birds during the (bird) flight counts done in order to know the population of parent birds coming to and going from the rookery located on Seahorse Key within the Cedar Keys NWR. He also scoped gopher tortoise holes with a small subterranean camera on a long tube to confirm occupancy.
“The Lower Suwannee is great place to work. Anyone with the opportunity to work there is privileged,” Hubbard said.
Not only did Hubbard learn the jobs performed at a National Wildlife Refuge, but he saw the benefit of team work, how the President encourages hiring youth for the summer, and ethics that are interwoven in the daily grind of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.