Major: Environmental Biology
After one conversation with Keystone College senior Brad Higgins, you quickly realize he’s not the type of person who has any desire to pursue a nine-to-five office job. Ever since he was a small child, Brad has loved nature and the environment and he’s adamant about making his living in the great outdoors. There’s no place that better fits that description than the wilds of Glacier National Park in northern Montana. That’s why Brad was right at home last summer during his two-month internship at the sprawling 1.4 million acre national park, where he worked on an important grizzly bear research project.
Working in Glacier National Park
“It was really everything I expected it to be and more. I learned so much and had such a great experience,” said Brad, who, not surprisingly, majors in environmental biology at Keystone. Simply getting accepted as a summer intern at Glacier National Park was a major accomplishment. Competition for summer programs at national parks is fierce, and most students selected are actually college graduates pursuing master’s degrees. Fortunately, I was accepted. To be able to get something like this as a senior in college is really great and sort of puts me ahead of the game since most of the other people I worked with were graduate students.”
During the summer, Brad would go on a rotation of nine days in the field and five days in camp. While in the field, he traveled to various remote locations where he would live in a cabin or a tent. He spent most of his time acquiring “bear rubs” or grizzly bear hair samples, which are collected from trees, poles, and fences. The samples are then collected and analyzed to determine valuable information about the population of bears living within the study area, such as an estimate of size and genetics. The entire process provides critical information about the bear population inside the mammoth national park.
A Future Outdoors
“When I wasn’t working, I spent some time fishing and rafting. It was one more reason why the summer was so great,” Brad said. Besides the practical experience, Brad realizes the internship will help bolster his applications to a prestigious wildlife biology master’s degree program. He isn’t sure where his journey will lead him as he pursues his education and professional career. But one thing is certain. He won’t be working indoors.