Rowan Converse spent the summer working as a volunteer and then as an intern for the Bosque Ecosystem Monitoring Program (BEMP) in her hometown of Albuquerque, New Mexico. The program is an educational outreach and research cooperative between her high school and the University of New Mexico dedicated to tracking the health of the Rio Grande watershed. She was involved in various research projects, including her own project, getting an index of rodent species and owl feeding activity in Petroglyph National Monument using bones found in owl pellets (a crash course in skull identification, something she’d never done before this project).
She also assisted other interns with research tracking porcupine populations in Albuquerque in the forest along the Rio Grande (some of the only porcupine research in the Southwest), setting up several urban and rural sites to get an index of small carnivore activity using track plates, and river monitoring, among others, including some educational outreach projects (BEMP runs programs reaching over 6,000 elementary and middle-school kids per year teaching them about the Rio Grande watershed by taking them outdoors). She even had the incredible opportunity to go down to the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge, where part of the Mexican grey wolf recovery program is based, and assisted New Mexico Fish and Wildlife scientists in vaccinating wolf puppies (best day ever! According to Rowan).