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JJennifer Boveennifer Bové

What is your Job description? writer/editor/field biologist

What do you study? The most interesting job was working & living as a caretaker on Protection Island National Wildlife Refuge, which is 3 miles off the northern coast of Washington in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. My husband and I were the island's only human residents, and we worked as a team to record seabird and marine mammal observations. We also enforced a 200-yard boundary between boaters and the island's shoreline to protect sensitive wildlife species from disturbance.

What's the best thing about your job? It was incredible to live alone on a 400-acre island where over 70 percent of the Puget Sound's seabirds come to breed. People often asked if we were lonely out there, but how could anyone be lonely surrounded by hundreds of gulls, cormorants, rhinocerous auklets, pigeon guillemots, eagles, seals, and more?

What is the worst thing about your job? Washing sticky seagull poop off of our US Fish and Wildlife Service boat before we could go out on patrol.

What inspired you to first study science? When I was in college, I began studying biology because I wanted to be a veterinarian. But one day I saw a picture in a magazine of a biologist carrying a tranquilized wolf over her shoulders in a snowstorm. I was so excited by the image that I decided field science was my calling.

What do you do in a typical day? A typical day of wildlife surveys on the island consisted of getting up and loading my backpack with binoculars, a spotting scope, data sheets, and lunch. I'd then drive an ATV from my cottage to the cliff that overlooked Violet Spit, a long stretch of beach teeming with birds, harbor seals, and elephant seals. Every hour on the hour, from sunup till sundown, I would use the spotting scope to count the animals I saw, and I would record my counts on data sheets to show how different animals came and went on the spit throughout the day. Some days were so windy it was hard to keep the scope still, and I had to be careful not to let my papers blow away!

What advice would you give to someone interested in becoming a biologist? Study the natural world around you, observe, and learn all you can about how the pieces of ecosystems work together. The understanding of nature's systems is not something that books alone can teach you. Study well in school, too; take all the life science classes you can. Then, when you're a senior in high school, ask your guidance counselor to help you research internships such as the SCEPS Program offered by federal natural resource agencies. Internships in college will give you a strong advantage when it comes to finding a job after graduation.

science bookJennifer has also written two books about life as a biologist. Both are highly recommended
The Back Road to Crazy: Stories from the Field
A Mile in Her Boots: Women Who Work in the Wild

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