Pick Your Community: | Hopkins | Muhlenberg | Daviess | Christian | Fayette | Henderson | Lakes | McCracken | Warren | Webster

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.

Most Read This Week (Site-Wide)

April 16, 2014 17813

UPDATE- Sheriff's Office Following Leads…

in Top Stories by Taylor Riley, SurfKY News Reporter
April 14, 2014 5903

U.S. Bank Hanson on Lockdown Due to Bomb…

in Top Stories by Rita Dukes Smith, SurfKY News Director
April 14, 2014 5120

Pedestrian Killed During Two Vehicle…

in Top Stories by Chris E. King
April 13, 2014 4355

One Dead in Two Vehicle Head On Collision

in Top Stories by Chris E. King
April 15, 2014 2836

Police Searching for Sureway's 'Baby…

in Top Stories by Taylor Riley, SurfKY News Reporter

Most Read Stories from Hopkins County

April 14, 2014 5120

Pedestrian Killed During Two Vehicle…

in Top Stories by Chris E. King
April 13, 2014 4355

One Dead in Two Vehicle Head On Collision

in Top Stories by Chris E. King
April 15, 2014 2836

Police Searching for Sureway's 'Baby…

in Top Stories by Taylor Riley, SurfKY News Reporter
April 12, 2014 2752

One Injured in Two Vehicle Accident in…

in Top Stories by Rita Dukes Smith, SurfKY News Director
April 15, 2014 2387

Multi-Agency Investigation Leads to Drug…

in Top Stories by Lori Blakeley

Most Read Stories from Owensboro

April 14, 2014 1793

Grow Garden Grow - Spring Has Sprung

in News by Barbara Cecil Russ
April 15, 2014 1162

Owensboro Police Investigate Auto Accident

in News by Michael Hathaway
April 13, 2014 927

Two Daviess County Men Busted for…

in Top Stories by Scott Gibbs
April 15, 2014 900

Owensboro Parks Offers Tennis Lessons

in News by Britni Bunn
April 14, 2014 593

Owensboro Health Hosts Tours for…

in Top Stories by Dennis Beard, SurfKY News

Most Read Stories from Muhlenberg County

April 13, 2014 2743

Muhlenberg 4-H is Buzzing

in Top Stories by Janie Culton
April 14, 2014 2162

MCC Staff Shares Good News with…

in Top Stories by Paul McRee, SurfKY News Reporter
April 16, 2014 1945

Sheriff's Deputies Nab Central City…

in Top Stories by Sheriff Curtis McGehee
April 15, 2014 1465

'Walk Right Back' An Everly Brother's…

in Top Stories by Paul McRee, SurfKY News Reporter
April 15, 2014 1372

Local MCHS Students Train at Job Corps

in Top Stories by Karen Robinson

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 06social 21social 22social 04social 03