Reflections from one of our first Canadians

Carissa Wasyliw
10 January 2017

You never really know what you’re getting yourself into when you sign up to do something that you found online.  There’s always some level of uncertainty, some hesitancy. Is this thing legit? Will it be all I hoped it to be? You never really know what you’re getting yourself into. This past summer, I saw a posting for an internship in South Africa, wrought with adventure, excitement, and most importantly, birds. Immediately I knew it was too good to be true. There had to be some catch, something that would have me running for the bushes. Little did I know, though, that it would be one of the best experiences I’ve had abroad. Don’t get me wrong; the days were long, grueling, and hot. But, at the same time, they were challenging, educational, and rewarding. 


Carissa with a newly hatched White-fronted Plover chick

We would start our days early (often well before dawn), to get a head start on the heat or wind. We’d get to our field site (the beach), unload our gear, and then trek it to our observation sites, or complete our surveys.  We were tasked with monitoring the population of white-fronted-plovers at four survey sites. This often consisted of surveying the beach for new nests, checking on the progress of existing nests, and checking on chicks of hatched nests. We would also conduct observations on active nests, as the parents-to-be would be busy incubating their eggs. Often, a typical day would consist of multiple surveys/observations/other miscellaneous tasks. There were times when our patience was tried, where our energy was spent, and we cursed these silly birds.  Yet, just as often, I found myself learning, growing, and adapting to these different conditions. I discovered many things about the behaviour of these birds, the behaviour of the people who frequent the same beaches, and about my own behaviour in response to the new environment I was in.


Long hours spent working with White-fronted Plovers

You never really know what you’re getting yourself into when you sign up for something online, but let me give you a hint about interning with NVT: you get a rewarding experience that will not only help grow your career, but also one that will help grow yourself in a meaningful way. You will work beside passionate people with large hearts and big goals, where you will eventually leave and feel inspired to continue meaningful work elsewhere.

A big thank you to everyone at NVT who made me feel at home, and contributed to such a meaningful experience for me.