By Keith Hamilton, Biological Technician on Riverside’s U.S Fish and Wildlife Contract
Over a two-week period in late March, I traveled to the Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) to train two Student Conservation Association (SCA) personnel on how to monitor for monarch butterflies/eggs/larva, nectar plants, milkweeds, and Red Imported Fire Ants (RIFA). The NWR is in Region 2 of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The first week of the training was primarily classroom-based and folks from different Texas agencies attended that session of the training. The second week consisted of myself, two other trainers, and the two SCAs being in the field. The SCAs received some hands-on training that week.
Pictures were taken during the two-week trip in March to Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge (NWR).
My primary roles were training the SCAs on the proper way to record, enter, review, and edit data; training the SCAs on how to select sites for monitoring; training the SCAs on how to use the iPads for navigation and monitoring activities; making sure folks were where they were supposed to be; scheduling the day’s activities; acting as the go-between/communications link for the office and people in the field; testing out the apps/computer programs, gear, and new monitoring methods in the field.
The other trainers were Alex Fryman, who works for Region 6 of the USFWS through an agreement with North Dakota State University, and Tenlea Turner, who is an employee of the USFWS and is based out of Neal Smith NWR, Iowa.