2019

Leah Campbell

Golden Gate National Recreation Area


I am a PhD student in City and Regional Planning at University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. I began my doctoral studies in 2018 specializing in equity planning, climate change adaptation, and hazard mitigation, with a focus on flooding in socially vulnerable communities. I spent the summer of 2019 with the Future Park Leaders Program at Golden Gate National Recreation Area, where I helped develop a monitoring program for shoreline change that will help inform future coastal adaptation planning in the park. Before returning to graduate school I worked in the environmental nonprofit sector in California for three years, helping support citizen science, protect water quality, and advance progressive water and climate resilience policies. I have a B.S. in Geology and Geophysics, with a focus in environmental science, from Yale University.

Shea McCarthy

Congaree National Park

I am a Masters student at the University of South Carolina studying Environmental Health Sciences and Public Health. My FPL internship with Congaree National Park has given me professional and scientific experience as a park employee. My project at Congaree included taking surface water samples and doing bacteria concentration testing. Additionally, I helped to make this project viable as a citizen science program, in which park volunteers can continue bacterial water quality monitoring with limited assistance from park staff. I’m so thankful for the huge variety of opportunities and experiences I’ve had throughout this internship!

Ashley Wilson

Voyageurs National Park

As a native of the Sonoran Desert, I have always been captivated by the brilliant and magnificent view of the night sky. Over time, I noticed the stars started to slowly fade away as growing populations increased their use of outdoor lighting, contributing to the relatively novel phenomenon known as light pollution. I decided to dedicate my life to protecting the night sky and nocturnal environment, which led me to pursue a master’s degree in Sensory Ecology at California Polytechnic State University. I am currently working with the Natural Sounds and Night Skies Division of the National Parks Service to address how artificial lighting can affect the physiology, behavior, and community structure of natural populations. To implement my research background in applied management, I completed an internship with the Future Park Leaders of Emerging Change to help Voyageurs National Park apply for an International Dark Sky Park Certification. Together, we were able to raise awareness about light pollution, promote effective use of outdoor lighting, and engage with local communities to celebrate and preserve the night sky.

Jessie Pearl

Saguaro National Park


I recently received my PhD in geosciences from the University of Arizona, the neighbor of Saguaro National Park! The 2019 FPL program is my second internship with Saguaro National Park. In 2018 I was a Geoscientist in the Park intern working on determining the source of water in critical low elevation desert pools. This year, I am looking at the history of snow in the high elevation desert, and how the amount of snow impacts the water resources downstream.

Julia Larson

Natural Sounds and Night Skies Division

To help bring people into a better balance with their environment I strive to bring both novel and familiar items in the human toolkit to the table. I graduated from the University of California Santa Cruz with a double major in Environmental Studies and Cognitive Science, then spent several years working in Silicon Valley as a software and firmware engineer. When I discovered I could use the skills I developed as a power platform in the environmental arena I enrolled as a graduate student of Environmental Studies at San Jose State University to explore how technology and environmentalism interact. My current project examines the usability of computer vision models to identify animals in camera trap images in field applications. As a Future Park Leader of Emerging Change intern at the Natural Sounds and Night Skies Division headquarters I distilled the relevant information about outdoor LED lights, light controllers, and Internet of Things initiatives that are applicable in National Park units into an easy to read and actionable toolkit for park employees.

Erika Welch

Olmstead Center for Landscape Preservation


I am from Medford, MA, just 4 miles north of Boston. I graduated from the University of Massachusetts Boston for a B.S. in Environmental Science with a focus in earth and hydrologic systems in 2018. I am currently working towards receiving my M.S in Environmental Science with a focus on storm water management and urban development at UMass Boston. This summer as an FPL intern, I had the privilege of working with the Olmstead Center of Landscape Preservation in Boston, MA.  I worked on Climate Change Vulnerability Assessments at George Washington Birthplace National Monument and Salem Maritime National Historic Site. I analyzed cultural resources in the park to evaluate their exposure and sensitivity to climate stressors, such as sea level rise, increased temperature, extreme weather events, etc. They were evaluated through Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and site visits! It was exciting working with interns dispersed throughout the country, all of whom have an interest in our parks futures in the light of climate change.

Amelia May

Biscayne National Park


I am currently a Masters student in Marine Biology and Ecology and Boston University. I graduated from the University of Rhode Island in 2017 with a B.S. in Marine Biology. I spent my FPL internship at Biscayne National Park pioneering a new method in survey of corals affected by Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease, which hit the park 4 years ago. Identifying healthy corals in affected areas creates a database for scientists looking for colonies to participate in restoration and reproduction efforts to help repopulate reefs. In addition to surveys and data collection, I was able to participate in marine debris clean-up with our Hurricane Team. I’m excited to know that my work will directly impact the health and future of our coral reefs!

Claudia Silver

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument


Hi everyone, I’m currently an undergraduate student at the University of Pennsylvania majoring in Urban Studies, focusing on the interplay between culture, society, and the physical environment.  My Future Park Leaders internship was at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, located in the Sonoran Desert on the border with Mexico and with long traditions of human habitation and migration. I used GIS software and data science to analyze the monument’s risk of water-based erosion in the face of precipitation intensified by climate change. This analysis helped locate culturally-sensitive areas in need of comprehensive surveying before flooding damages archaeological sites and their artifacts.  The internship experience solidified my aim to act in solidarity with marginalized people and cultures in the face of malevolent, prevailing institutions.

Rachel Fricke

Mount Rainier National Park 


I’m originally from Spokane, WA, and spent much of my formative years on the Northwest’s lakes and rivers. My lifelong affinity for water ultimately led me to pursue studies in freshwater ecology. I recently completed Bachelor’s degrees in Aquatic and Fishery Sciences and Environmental Studies at the University of Washington, and will return there for my Master’s in Fall 2020 after conducting research in Germany on a Fulbright grant for the next year. As an FPLEC intern in Mount Rainier National Park, I’ve been working to model future water availability under different climate scenarios for the park’s surface water supply systems and develop a stream temperature monitoring network to infer cold-water habitat availability for thermal-sensitive aquatic species such as bull trout.

Fernando Casal

Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument


Hi y’all! I’m a to-be fourth year undergraduate at the University of Texas at Austin studying Geography (with a focus on soil science, remote sensing, and critical geographies) and have the privilege of being a student under the Native American and Indigenous Studies program at my university. This summer I worked on geospatial modeling at Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument to help inform timber management plans amid a growing threat of severe wildfires. These management plans have to be cognizant of potential impacts on culturally and spiritually significant resources in the monument, therefore a predictive model for the spatial distribution of those resources is needed. It’s been incredible connecting with Wabanaki and non-indigenous researchers through this project, and working with my mentors has been splendid.