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Biology Major Helps Protect Endangered Sloths Through Summer Internship

Having studied amphibious creatures at the University of Vermont as an intern, Josie Verter '19 is now working at The Sloth Institute in Costa Rica for an all-encompassing internship experience.

Josie Verter '19, The Sloth Institute



Internship title:

Sloth technician. 

What I do, day to day:

My primary responsibilities are to track both wild and rehabilitated two- and three-fingered sloths using VHF radio telemetry in the rainforests of Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica. In addition, I also collect behavioral data on the sloths so that we can further understand these complex species and better protect them. They are particularly vulnerable to habitat fragmentation from roads and development. I also assist in feedings and regular health checkups on the sloths.

Other internships:

Last summer, I was a research assistant at the University of Vermont in an ecology lab studying the effects of a particular virus on the amphibian populations throughout Vermont.

Most valuable part of this experience:

The field of conservation is multifaceted. I learned a lot last summer working with amphibians and I got experience with mammals in a tropical climate this summer. While the habitats and creatures are completely different, I am learning that the approach to ecology research and the goals of conservation are similar across the field. I learn best in the field working with an experienced researcher, and getting the chance to work with different staff members at the Sloth Institute gave me the chance to get to know them and to learn about their career paths in wildlife conservation. Many people in the field have the same conflict I have: We want to do hands-on work in the field helping species, and we also want to do research that will influence policy. I have met many people whom I admire in this field, people who strive to do relevant research that will have a positive impact.

Advice for students considering internships:

Apply no matter what! Even if you feel as if you are not 100 percent qualified for a position, apply. Many organizations are financially strapped and can’t afford to pay interns, but if you can offer to work for free because of Dickinson internship funding, they might make a position for you.

How this internship has helped me:

This position has allowed me to gain skills as a researcher and better prepared me for a future in conservation. Being a part of such important efforts and assisting in the conservation of such a unique species gives me hope that my education and career will have a positive impact on the world.

Post-Dickinson plans:

I plan to pursue graduate school in ecology and work in the field of conservation.

Verter's internship experience is supported by a Dickinson internship grant. Learn more about internships at Dickinson.


Published August 1, 2018