Just like you, the last year has been full of challenges, stress, and uncertainty due to COVID-19. Particularly concerning for our project, 2020 was slated to be our ‘big’ field season, staffed by a squad of field technicians. Thanks to open dialogue among project collaborators and a shared interest in taking proactive mitigation measures, our field project was allowed to continue as planned . Fortunately, working in Glacier’s high alpine, far removed from masses of people, was living about as “COVID-safe” as one could. And so we’re grateful to say…what a summer field season it was!
A major challenge we faced was hiring our squad. A primary hiring goal was to field a globally diverse team of individuals who could demonstrate an ability to make sound judgements in a dynamic physical work environment. For we believe a team is strongest when each individual offers different skills/expertise, where learning/growth is then shared across individuals. By early March we hired an array of persons from around our wonderful planet. Then COVID took hold and we lost a number of new hires for a variety COVID-related reasons. After some angst, we pressed the repeat button, advertised again, and rehired the lost positions. To our delight, we managed to maintain our hiring goal.
The work our field team achieved in 2020 is a testament to their collective talent and abilities. We met our pre COVID-19 work plan goals and operated accident free in the high country. So with great pleasure, we’d like to recognize each individual who contributed to Team Army 2020:
Spending a summer in Glacier was a chance for Shayne to gain additional field experience in wildlife while making a connection to his family’s ancestry in the Blackfeet Tribe. Working on the project was well suited to his global-adventuring background. Shayne was easy to wear a smile and approached fieldwork with a positive, happy attitude. We hope his experience last summer will aid his future pursuits, whether it be toward grad school, continuing on in the wildlife field, or getting involved with his tribal community.
Jackson, who worked on the project in 2019, returned in a part-time capacity this season. His great experience in the park’s backcountry benefitted field operations. There are few corners of the park Jackson has not been to. We so appreciated Jackson’s willingness to share his substantial project and park experience with other technicians. In particular, his enthusiasm for engaging project technicians who were less accustomed to climbing was helpful for ensuring all technicians had safe and comfortable field excursions.
An outdoor photographer, adventurer, and new father by trade, Steven contributed to field efforts on a part time basis. Having grown up recreating in and around Glacier, Steven’s deep knowledge of the park’s backcountry and lofty mountaineering skills were valuable traits he brought to the team. When he wasn’t collecting field data or sharing his knowledge with other team members, Steven could be found behind the lens of his camera helping to visually document research effort. To see an online portfolio of Steven’s outdoor photography, please visit his website: https://www.gnam.photo/.
Hailing from Canada, Patrick was visa-hired for his sharp mind and attention to detail. Prior to coming out to Glacier, he finished his Master’s research on polar bear predation of common eider nest eggs on an island in northern Hudson Bay, which you can learn more about by viewing this 1-minute video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rrTQGxR7Jqk. While the terrain of our study sites proved too challenging for Patrick to complete the full field season, we applaud him for communicating openly and making a decision that kept himself and his teammates mentally and physically secure. We will be eagerly watching Patrick’s professional progress over the next few years.
Hugh Key IV
A life long wildlife lover (moose in particular) and fresh off of graduating from the University of Missouri with a fish & wildlife degree, Hugh traveled out west for the first time last summer to immerse himself in the mountains of Glacier while contributing to our project. Hugh conquered the new physical challenges he faced using his remarkable mental strength. The growth he showed over the summer is a testament to his future potential. A joy to be around, we believe Hugh has a bright future in store for him as a wildlife professional.
Danny volunteered his way into field operations in 2019 and left a positive impression. An excellent communicator, he fulfilled a field leadership role in 2020 with increased responsibilities. When faced with adversity or a difficult decision in the field, we trusted Danny would make a reasoned decision to the best of his abilities, and he did not disappoint. Danny is also a man of many interests and different professional pursuits. When he’s not working or recreating outdoors (…or studying these days), you may find him busking with his guitar on a street corner near you.
Makete (Mike) came to Glacier in 2004 to voluntarily carry jugs of blood lure in his backpack all summer while between college hockey seasons…and his heart never left! In the years since, Mike has roamed most corners of the park’s backcountry while pursuing a graduate degree and working a variety of summer wildlife-focused positions. A man of varied interests, Mike’s also a talented musician: https://madhallelujah.com/wordpress/. Extroverted and possessing endless energy, Mike’s all-around positive, happy attitude was appreciated by the team equally during times of sun-filled bliss and icy wind-stinging pain.
Well-traveled and broadly experienced, Brooke came to Glacier to learn the park and gain more experience in the wildlife field. “Business Brooke” as she came to be known, excelled in all facets of field operations. She was swift on her feet and adept to navigating Glacier’s high-angle terrain. Her attention to detail collecting field data was also noted. Regardless of which career path she takes in her future, we anticipate she will find success and make significant contributions.
An accomplished biologist and Executive Director of the Wolverine Foundation, Rebecca’s ordinary fieldwork in Mongolia was sadly postponed in 2020 due to COVID-19. Ever the outdoor enthusiast and stuck on the sidelines, we offered her an opportunity to salvage her summer and roam among the Lower 48’s wolverine stronghold in Glacier’s high country. Rebecca’s field acumen and experience collecting field data in harsh conditions were valuable assets she brought to the team. We hope she is able to make it back to Mongolia in 2021! To learn more about Gulo gulo’s and Rebecca’s work with the Wolverine Foundation, please visit their website: http://wolverinefoundation.org/.
Camille Garcera & Maria Serrat Crehuet
Camille and Marian were visa-hired during our first round of hiring. Hailing from France and Spain respectively, they both have global experience working with different bear species, are adept mountain climbers, and possess graduate degrees. As such, we were excited to have them join our field team. Unfortunately due to COVID-19, they were not able to travel to the States to participate in our field season. Nonetheless, we consider them 2020 team members in spirit!
Like 2019, we are thankful for the targeted field support from volunteers who were equally experienced as paid team members. Under a different set of circumstances last summer, we would have provided more field opportunities to volunteers.
I’d like to thank all 2020 & 2019 project technicians for their contributions to two safe and successful field seasons of ground data collection across our transboundary study area. I hope the rewards that came from your challenging labors will linger as vivid memories in your mind for years to come. I am indebted to you all.