Ecampus Students in Action: Frank Nichols

Fish tracking

As a pilot in the US Marine Corps, I flew the MV-22 Osprey and believed my career after the Marine Corps would be related to aviation. However, this was not my true desire. I wanted to work in a natural resources field, but due to my age and limited experience believed my chances were minimal. After returning from deployment in 2009 I decided to research career fields in natural resources and developed an interest in aquatic and fisheries biology, specifically in relation to conservation. Over the next few years, I researched degrees that would allow me to transition to a new career field after the Marine Corps.

At the time there were very few options that would allow someone with a busy life on active duty and a family to work toward a degree in a biological science. When researching degree programs I came across Oregon State University’s Ecampus website. The Fisheries and Wildlife Bachelor of Science degree at OSU fit my requirements. I wanted a degree from a reputable university and the flexibility to adjust to my highly mobile life. In 2011 I decided to enroll in OSU as a post-baccalaureate student in Fisheries and Wildlife Science.

After retiring from the Marine Corps in 2014 I was hired as an intern with the Environmental and Cultural Resources Branch (ECRB) at the US Army Corps of Engineers in Seattle Washington, which also completed my required internship for my degree. While working in ECRB a permanent biologist position opened in the Regulatory Branch. I applied, was hired, and now almost 4-years later continue to work as a biologist in Regulatory.  As a Regulatory biologist, I assess project impacts to waters of the US, applying best available science and regulations to protect aquatic resources, while still allowing reasonable development.

I’m glad I found Oregon State University. Transitioning to a new career takes planning and doesn’t happen overnight. But, OSU’s team of academic advisors and professors in the Fisheries and Wildlife Department were fantastic and helped make my transition a reality. I highly recommend OSU Ecampus for those who want a great education and the flexibility that meets the needs of a working life.

Curious about Internships?

Check out this video that Chris Cousins, an undergraduate in fisheries and wildlife, put together showcasing his internship with Oregon Department of Fisheries and Wildlife!


Melissa Robell - Student

Melissa Robell - Mel Takes Brazil

"I'm really excited to do an international internship in Florianópolis, Brazil for 10 weeks to work with neotropical and giant otters."


Amanda Figley - A Roaming Jackpine 

Amanda is an Ecampus transfer student in her third year in the Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences program. Click here to check out her experiences during the Hawaiian Summer 2016 coral reef field class.

Scout's photo

Scout Clair - PDX Wildlife name is Scout Clair and I am one of the 2016 fall interns! I’m from Portland, Oregon and just graduated in the spring from Oregon State University with a bachelor’s degree in Fisheries and Wildlife that I hope to use to become a zookeeper. Through the zoo, I was also fortunate enough to have the opportunity to travel to Costa Rica for 2 weeks to learn about the different studies taking place at the La Selva Biological Research Station. Living on-site at the research station was an amazing experience as we were fully immersed in the jungle lifestyle and got to know our peccary neighbors very well! While in Costa Rica we also had the opportunity to go to the Tortugeuro National Park and observe a turtle nesting!


Natasha Peters - Raptor Conservation in Bulgaria

Click to see Natasha's internship presentation describing her work with Saker Falcons and Egyptian Vultures. In this presentation, she discusses threats both raptors face, along with efforts being made to preserve their species.

OSU Bird Nerds group photo

Oregon State University Bird Nerds

OSU Bird Nerds is a student-run ornithological club at OSU. Our mission is OSU students with an opportunity to learn more about the amazing world of birds to provide through bird-related activities, résumé-building experiences, speakers from the ornithological community, species identification workshops, and field trips and to share the knowledge gained from these activities with the Corvallis birding community through volunteer, education, and conservation involvement.


Stephanie Schmidt - Wildgenetics 

My internship role involves working in the field, setting and checking insect traps in the forest, and in the lab, identifying specimens and preparing them for DNA processing. We will be using a technique called DNA metabarcoding in this study. DNA metabarcoding is fascinating (but, I’m biased). To put it simply, it is a way to assess biodiversity by identifying DNA found in the environment.

Michelle Fournet

Michelle Fournet
Acoustic Ecology & Marine Mammal Research

Michelle is a PhD student in Wildlife Science in Fisheries and Wildlife. Her primary research to-date has focused on humpback whale non-song communication - or social sounds - in Southeast Alaska. Follow Michelle's travels as a researcher and as a Graduate Teaching Assistant for several of the Department's undergraduate classes. 


Geospatial Ecology of Marine Megafauna Laboratory

This research blog is written by graduate students in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife. The GEMM lab is led by Dr. Leigh Torres at the Marine Mammal Institute in Newport, Oregon.  

We love hearing about our students' experiences!

If you have a blog you would like to share here, contact your advisor and let them know!

Julie Brinkman in the field

Student Stories Archive

Julie Brinkman

Photo: Julie Brinkman assisting in the inspection of a large drip irrigation project in Blythe, California.

I am a domestic engineer with three young children and a community volunteer. I will be graduating from the Ecampus Fisheries and Wildlife degree program in 2018.

I am currently an Earth Team Volunteer intern with the Natural Resources Conservation Service, which will fulfill my intensive internship requirement for the degree.  I am fortunate in that my timing in this role began at the commencement of application by a tribal agency for a large-scale wildlife habitat enhancement project along the Colorado River. Simultaneously, I am learning about irrigation improvement projects for agricultural lands, including surveys, analysis of data, and identification of solutions. One challenge to conservation planning is that it is time-intensive to coordinate the cooperation and efforts of multiple agencies and technical support to complete projects. Another challenge is fieldwork in the Lower Colorado River desert area involves temperatures in excess of 100 degrees in the summers, not to mention the high humidity in August. The activities I have engaged in thus far have given me valuable hands-on experience in the field, which I have confirmed that I love, even in August when it's 119 degrees out. 

Micah next to an adult sea turtle

Ecampus Student Micah Ashford - Barbados Sea Turtles

Bridgetown, Barbados

Graduation: Summer 2018

Hello, everyone, my name is Micah Ashford and I am a Postbaccalaureate eCampus student here at OSU. I currently live in Barbados where I work with the ongoing conservation efforts of hawksbill sea turtles.

Hawksbill sea turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata) are listed as critically endangered by the IUCN Redlist due to poaching for their colorful and intricately detailed shell. Nesting habitat for this species also continues to degrade due to coastal development, climate change, invasive species, and loss of viable beach habitat due to beach erosion. This is where the Barbados Sea Turtle Project comes in. My job here is to collect important data that can help spur local authorities into action to prevent further loss of habitat and enable laws that grant this species the protection status it needs to survive and thrive while nesting on Barbados, the second largest nesting population of hawksbills in the western hemisphere.

This experience has taught me a number of things in regards to wildlife conservation and management. First, I learned that wildlife management often involves managing people. Ensuring locals and visitors to the island know what to do and what not do when encountering a sea turtle can mean all the difference between a female nesting or going back into the ocean and performing a "false crawl" (too many false crawls and she could jettison the eggs in the sea!). Second, I learned that when collecting data, the animals and the environment don't often cooperate. Patrolling outside as Hurricane Maria was passing just north of us exemplified the meaning of inclement weather. Lastly, I learned that science isn't perfect and this isn't a lab setting. Variables will occur outside of your control: turtles will return to the sea before you're ready to tag them, a beach may not get patrolled for 10 days because of pending emergencies that need to be dealt with and then you may miss nests.

What matters is that in these situations you do your best and prioritize what you can. At the end of the day, we're not Superman (even though we may want to be). When my time at OSU and this project is complete, I hope to gain employment with a state or federal agency that works in wildlife management. I feel this experience, in addition to previous internships I have been fortunate enough to participate in will prepare me for a career conducting fieldwork, entering data, writing reports and papers, and also interacting with other special interest groups in order to present scientific findings as best as I can.

Official website for The Barbados Sea Turtle Project