Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Meet Ben - A 2015 Young Dawg

            Hi, my name is Ben Williams and I am a high school student participating in UGA’s Young Dawgs internship program. This semester I will be doing an internship here at the garden.
First of all I should tell you a little about myself. I am a homeschooled senior. I am fascinated by wildlife; particularly birds. I plan to pursue this interest in college, and this internship will be great preparation for that. I go birding regularly, whether I am in my backyard or places like the State Botanical Garden. Birding is an enhanced form of bird watching, involving more traveling in search of birds. I have had many opportunities to enjoy birds and wildlife in various ways. For instance, for five years I have participated in Georgia’s annual Youth Birding Competition, a 24 hour contest of who can find the most birds in the state. 2013 was a big year for me. In the summer I got to participate in a nature immersion camp in Puerto Rico, where I learned much about ecosystems on the island. Later that summer I went to another camp in Colorado which was all about birding. An exciting part of this camp was getting to visit the amazing landscapes there, including prairie and mountain tundra, in addition to seeing an abundance of wildlife.
Young Dawgs is a program that gives internships to students in a field of study that interests them. Many students work with professors from UGA. In my case, my internship will be focused around birding, and I will be working with Cora Keber and Andie Bisceglia who work at the garden. I will come to the garden regularly and record bird sightings at designated locations. With the data I collect, we hope to gain information on the migration habits of the birds at garden, as well as how the habitat restoration taking place here is affecting bird populations and which species are affected. For instance, the data collected in locations where nonnative plants have been eradicated will be compared with locations where these plants remain. If you are interested in hearing more, every week I will tell about my findings on the State Botanical Garden of Georgia Facebook page. I am very excited to be working here and enjoying nature!

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