Meet the 2024 Raptor Conservation Interns

This year’s field season for our Raptor Conservation Interns has already started off with a bang. Our team has seen several nests in this early season, including a Northern Saw-whet Owl with eight eggs! It has been a few years since we’ve monitored a Saw-whet nest as part of our Cavity Adopting Raptor Ecology Studies (CARES), so we view this as a good sign for the season ahead. On top of this exciting discovery, we also already know about 20 kestrel nests and ten other owl nests with eggs or nestlings.

Each year, we recruit a team of interns early in their conservation careers to help out with a variety of HWI programs with a specific focus on the CARES program. During this 20-week experience, interns build field, outreach, data management, and leadership skills. Thanks to support from Rocky Mountain Power and generous supporters like you, we can provide these impactful opportunities. Without further ado, meet the amazing folks joining us for the 2024 field season!

Yutong Sun

Education: B.S. in Biology and Environmental Science, University of Washington

Yutong officially got into wildlife and avian ecology in her junior year in college. Dance and nature are Yutong’s main interests, and her professional background is closely tied to both of them. A field class called “Dance with Nature” marked the start of her academic journey in wildlife conservation, and choreographing “Cygnus Lake” marked the completion of her college life. 

“Talking to a friend who choreographed a dance about salmon migration sparked my dedication to avian migration. After graduation, I joined HWI’s fall migration monitoring team at Commissary Ridge HawkWatch where I learned a lot about what fieldwork looks like and how fascinating it is.”

Now she’s back for owls and kestrels and is really excited to learn more about another stage of their life.

Ian Vogenthaler

Education: B.A. in Biology, Occidental College

Ian became enthusiastic about conservation science while studying biology at Occidental College. There, he gravitated towards courses that deepened his understanding of wildlife, particularly through courses like Museum Biology, Plant Physiology, and Avian Biology. His interest in ornithology took root while working at the Moore Lab of Zoology, where he had the opportunity to work on a project aiming to digitize preserved bird specimens. 

“Researching raptors at HawkWatch International is an exciting window into field biology and research. I am interested and eager to learn more about different populations around the Salt Lake Valley and their response to growing urbanization in the area.”

 When not at the dog park with his four-legged best friend, Ian enjoys bowling, golfing, hiking, and, of course, bird watching, which continues to inspire his love for the natural world.

June Yost

Education: B.A. in Environmental Studies with a concentration in Conservation Science and Policy, University of California, Santa Cruz

June had no idea she had a love for birds until she took an ornithology class at UC Santa Cruz in 2021. Quickly, birding became one of her favorite hobbies, and she aimed to transform that hobby into the foundation for a career. Immediately after that class, June took on several internships, where she participated in songbird banding, Golden-Crowned Sparrow behavioral research, and bird-window collision studies. 

“The wide scope of the CARES program is the perfect environment to learn about American Kestrels and the management that goes into their conservation. While my loyalty still lies with songbirds, I’m beginning to care about raptors just as much through this internship!” 

In her free time, June loves to hone her bird identification skills by spending lots of time outdoors with a pair of binoculars and open ears. She also enjoys watching movies, playing video games, and wildlife photography.

We’re so excited to see all that Yutong, Ian, and June accomplish this summer. You can contribute to their journey by making a donation to support the people behind raptor conservation:

This blog was written by Sammy Riccio, our Communications Manager, as well as the 2024 Raptor Conservation Interns. You can learn more about Sammy here.

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