Pick Your Community: | Hopkins | Muhlenberg | Daviess | Christian | Fayette | Henderson | Lakes | McCracken | Warren | Webster
Davis Motor Sales banner ad

WKU Biology Graduate Completes Internship at National Park

wku wiggington 300As part of an internship with the Cumberland Piedmont Network, WKU biology graduate Sara Wigginton assisted in monitoring the water quality of Echo River Springs and other cave-fed springs at Mammoth Cave National Park. (WKU photo by Clinton Lewis)BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (6/19/13) - As part of an internship with the Cumberland Piedmont Network, WKU biology graduate Sara Wigginton assisted in monitoring the water quality of Echo River Springs and other cave-fed springs at Mammoth Cave National Park. (WKU photo by Clinton Lewis)

As a high school senior, Sara Wigginton knew she wanted to major in biology in college and pursue a career in ecology or conduct research in graduate school.
 
“I just really enjoyed all the sustainability and ecology sections that we worked on,” she said of her biology course at Bethlehem High School in Nelson County. “I knew that I wanted to be a biology major for a long time and I guess ecology was just the next logical step for me to take.”

After completing her degree in May at WKU and working for the past three years as intern in an ecological monitoring program based at Mammoth Cave National Park, Wigginton knows she made the right decision.

“The experience I have gained here is so valuable to my future because I think I want to do exactly this when I grow up,” said Wigginton, an Honors College graduate from Glendale. “It’s been a great experience to know that I am on the right path for what I want to do and that this is something I can do and want to keep doing for my whole life.”

Wigginton, the daughter of Mark and Juanita Wigginton, has worked with the Cumberland Piedmont Network, which monitors natural resources in 14 parks in eight states. WKU’s Center for Water Resource Studies coordinates the internships with Mammoth Cave National Park.

Working with scientists, researchers and resource managers over the past three years, Wigginton has assisted with conducting monthly water quality assessments of cave-fed springs along the Green River, traveled to other national parks in the Cumberland Piedmont Network to take part in vegetation monitoring, has gained experience trapping reptiles, bats, other small mammals and birds and has gained knowledge about natural resource monitoring by participating in projects such as Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship, ozone and foliar injury monitoring, and cave cricket monitoring. She also has had the chance to interact with an endangered species, the Indiana bat, and has gained hands-on training in curatorial specimen processing, scientific data entry and many other areas of field biology.

“My resume is a lot stronger than some applicants who haven’t had the same field experience as I have,” she said. “I’ve worked on projects, vegetation monitoring, ozone monitoring, water quality monitoring. And I’ve also worked on a bunch of specimen and curatorial projects so I just have a little experience in a lot of things.”
 
Brice Leech, natural resources specialist at Mammoth Cave National Park, said Wigginton has a bright future. “She was just a pleasure to work with,” he said.

Wigginton assisted Leech in monitoring the water quality of the park’s cave-fed springs that flow into the Green River. Most of those monthly monitoring trips were done by boat along a 30-mile stretch of the river.

“It’s really important because this is a really big water source in central Kentucky,” Wigginton said. “It’s really biodiverse and has some endangered species of mussels and cave shrimp living in it. So those are really important ecosystems to keep in check and make sure we’re not doing any damage.”

Wigginton completed her internship with a museum project of specimens collected in the park such as mammal skulls, butterflies, moths, beetles and vegetation. “My job is about 25 percent field work and 75 percent office work, which is totally worth it,” she said.

After completing the internship in mid-June, Wigginton plans to spend two months hiking a portion of the Appalachian Trail. Then she’ll begin applying to graduate schools in the western United States. Wigginton hopes one day to work for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife or the National Park Service, but “any sort of research job that has to do with ecology, I’ll be happy with,” she said.

SurfKY News
Information provided by WKU News

© Copyright 2014 SurfKY News Group, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, or rewritten without permission. SurfKY News encourages you to share this story by using one of the social media links below.

In Other News...

Land Between The Lakes 2014-2015 Archery Season

GOLDEN POND, Ky. (8/22/14) — Land Between The Lakes National Recreation Area invites the public to participate in… Read More

Hopkins County Traffic Advisory

HOPKINS COUNTY, Ky. (8/22/14) — Kentucky 502 in Hopkins County is expected to remain closed until late September for… Read More

Most Read This Week (Site-Wide)

August 21, 2014 5330

Muhlenberg Task Force on Trail of Home…

in News by Wes Miller
August 18, 2014 4345

Man Injured in Early Morning WKP Accident

in Top Stories by Rita Dukes Smith, SurfKY News Director
August 18, 2014 4079

Owensboro Board of Commissioners…

in News by Beth Cecil
August 20, 2014 3927

Park Avenue Trespass Call Leads to…

in Top Stories by Madisonville Police Department
August 18, 2014 3894

Unlawful Solicitation

in News by Sgt. J.D. Winkler

Most Read Stories from Hopkins County

August 20, 2014 3927

Park Avenue Trespass Call Leads to…

in Top Stories by Madisonville Police Department
August 18, 2014 2690

Madisonville Man Charged for Shoplifting,…

in Top Stories by Madisonville Police Department
August 21, 2014 1719

Pedestrian Struck on East Arch Street,…

in Top Stories by Officer Ryan Clark
August 20, 2014 1643

Dawson Springs Woman Arrested for Driving…

in Top Stories by SurfKY News
August 18, 2014 1464

Madisonville Firefighters Recognized for…

in Top Stories by Rita Dukes Smith, SurfKY News Director

Most Read Stories from Owensboro

August 18, 2014 4079

Owensboro Board of Commissioners…

in News by Beth Cecil
August 18, 2014 3894

Unlawful Solicitation

in News by Sgt. J.D. Winkler
August 18, 2014 3773

RiverArtes Opening at OMFA

in News by Owensboro Museum of Fine Art
August 19, 2014 3222

Free Arthritis Exercise Program will be…

in News by Woody Maglinger
August 19, 2014 3139

Municipal Art Collection on Exhibit at…

in News by Mary Bryan Hood

Most Read Stories from Muhlenberg County

August 18, 2014 4345

Man Injured in Early Morning WKP Accident

in Top Stories by Rita Dukes Smith, SurfKY News Director
August 18, 2014 3781

Luke's Flea Market Vendors' Home Away…

in Top Stories by Charles W. Riley II, SurfKY News
August 18, 2014 3596

'How Dry I Was'

in Top Stories by Rita Dukes Smith, SurfKY News Director
August 19, 2014 3077

'Another One Bites the 'Duct'

in Top Stories by Paul McRee, SurfKY News
August 19, 2014 2284

Drakesboro Woman Injured When Tree Falls…

in Top Stories by Martha Clark

SurfKY News Group, Inc. Central Office & Printing Division
1125 Nebo Rd.  •  Madisonville, KY 42431  •  270.452.2249 (fax)
Main Number: 270.452.2727 (phone)  •  Printing Division Direct Line: 270.821.8600 (phone)

SurfKY Owensboro News Bureau
920 Frederica St. / Suite 210  •  Owensboro, KY 42301  •  270.683-8060 (phone)


Contact a member of our staff: www.surfky.com/contact
Copyright © 2014 SurfKY News Group, Inc.  •  Terms of Use  •  Site Map

social 03social 04social 22social 21social 06