Meet the 2023 American Kestrel Conservation Interns

HawkWatch International understands the value of hands-on experience. We also recognize that it isn’t always easy to have access to these opportunities. Oftentimes, early career professionals are faced with a dilemma—most positions that will provide them with the experience they need are severely underpaid if they offer compensation at all. HWI’s American Kestrel Conservation Internship is a 20-week immersive experience providing opportunities to grow a variety of field, data management, and team-building skills to those just launching wildlife careers.  These internships come with a weekly cost of living stipend, and the possibility of shared living space for out-of-town participants. Every year thanks to generous donors and corporate funders, such as the Shaw Family Foundation and Rocky Mountain Power, we are able to grow this internship and improve the support we offer.

This year we are excited to introduce to you three amazing women who will be joining our team! Keep reading to learn more about them. If you want to stay up to date on our American Kestrel Studies, be sure to follow our Instagram and Facebook where we will be posting updates throughout the season.

Jessica Matyas

Hometown: Monroe, Washington
Education: B.S. in Biology (Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation) from the University of Washington

Jessica has had a passion for wildlife since childhood (kudos to Steve Irwin and Jane Goodall!), but didn’t discover her passion for birds until taking a field ornithology course at the University of Washington. She immediately fell in love and has been pursuing a career in ornithology ever since. She has worked with Swainson’s Thrushes in the Cascades, Oregon Spotted Frog conservation and invasive species removal, and was a crew member at our Chelan Ridge HawkWatch this past fall. “Fall migration was such an incredible experience that I couldn’t wait to work more with raptors and HWI. I am so excited to learn more about kestrel breeding ecology and work with the amazing community scientists that keep this project running smoothly!” When Jessica isn’t out monitoring American Kestrels, you can find her birding, hiking, drawing, or camping.

Jasmine Ruiz

Hometown: Wenatchee, Washington
Education: M.S. in Biology from Central Washington University and B.S. in Biology from Washington State University

Jasmine originally discovered her love of birds through her ornithology and animal behavior classes. During this time in college, she found many of her friends asking her about any and all bird species they came across. Soon she became known as “the bird person” in social circles. Subsequently, this encouraged her to pursue bird studies in graduate school where she studied Clark’s Nutcrackers. After studying nutcrackers, Jasmine began to explore other bird species that sparked her interest, leading to her position with HWI and her favorite raptor, the American Kestrel. “Studying raptors with HWI is such an exciting way to continue exploring my passion for conservation research, interacting with community scientists, and working with raptors!” In her free time, Jasmine can be found baking, birding, volunteering, or hanging out with her dog. 

Reily Shields

Hometown: Atlanta, Georgia
Education: The University of Utah, Environmental Studies with an emphasis on conservation.

Reily’s passion for birds grew throughout her time in the West while studying in college. As an avid rock climber, she discovered a variety of amazing species in and around Utah at her favorite crags. This love for climbing and birding has led to many adventures across the US and Europe. During her senior year at the University of Utah, Reily had the opportunity to be a teacher’s assistant for a field ornithology lab. She loved working with the students and sharing her passion for local birds which is why she is thrilled to be joining a community science project! Reily learned about HawkWatch International by getting involved as a volunteer on the American Kestrel Studies last spring and has been eager to get more involved.

“I’ve been consistently impressed by HWI’s multidisciplinary approach to conservation and have always dreamt of working with such a wonderful organization. I am fascinated by raptors and want to continue to learn about and work with them. Helping and researching these keystone species is an efficient way to contribute to ecological resilience in our local ecosystems.”

Are you interested in joining next year’s cohort of interns? Be sure to check our opportunities page in December of 2023 for the job posting.

This blog was written by Sammy Riccio, HWI’s Donor Engagement Coordinator. You can learn more about Sammy here.

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