Below are excerpts from field intern testimonials. More internship perspectives can be found here.
“I feel a deep satisfaction that Miche and our team were able to collect far more data than she had envisioned, however in truth I came to understand that this was only half of the mission. What drew me to Michelle and this project is a shared perspective that the human element and experience is equally important in the grand scheme of things. As the technological age progresses it seems society grows further removed from natural resources and our interconnectedness with nature, a trend that I hope to resist in my own life. Many researchers may never look with their own eyes on their species of study but examine from afar with the aid of field equipment, a fact that weighs at my heart considering the great joy and enrichment that I feel spending time outdoors and observing nature. Living on Strawberry Island and playing a working component in the Acoustic Spyglass project has been monumental to say the least”
-Kate Pospisil 2015
“I spent a month in the Alaskan wilderness under Miche’s supervision, and it was an experience I will never forget. To this day, 4 years later, I still think about my time working with Miche. She led myself and 3 other interns on a research project on Humpback whales, which we conducted from a lighthouse on a small island. I could not have asked for a better Project Leader, or a more understanding and patient friend in the lighthouse. Miche handled every problem with grace and levelheadedness. There were many instances (like when we had to carry Noble Steed, our 400-pound skiff, through the intertidal zone) that Miche’s leadership qualities were paramount for our success. Apart from being a great field leader Miche also managed the Lighthouse and found time to tell us intriguing stories about Alaska. We all requested copies of her stories so we could pass them on.
Leaving the comforts of a modern society and spending 4 weeks on a very secluded island with limited amenities can be a very stressful adjustment. Fortunately for us, Miche was able to make what could be a stressful adjustment into a thrilling lifestyle change. Miche’s nurturing attitude and eagerness to help us learn made the adjustment simple and enjoyable. I know that we all miss the lighthouse and the whales, but we miss Miche even more. It was an incredible experience to spend a month in Alaska learning about Humpback whales, but Miche was the reason our project was a success. I feel privileged to have spent time working with Miche and I know that the lessons she taught me I will carry with me for the rest of my life.”
-Ryan Meeder 2012
“The moment we stopped paddling and rested our oars on the kayaks that we were immersed in the most beautiful chorus we have ever heard. Michelle and I had spontaneously grabbed kayaks to watch the sunset after a long day of fieldwork and found ourselves in the mecca of marine life. There were low, hollow breaths of humpback whales between dives; fast, forceful breaths of a pod of killer whales as they were transiently passing the lighthouse; short, whistling breaths of the sea lions playing in the kelp; and short puffs of the porpoises as they passed. This chorus of life I eavesdropped on in the middle of Fredrick’s Sound was one of the defining moments in my career in marine biology, and wouldn’t have been possible without the dedication of Michelle Fournet and the Alaska Whale Foundation.
When we were not taking advantage of our remote field site, we were immersed in data collection. Michelle has the patience, dedication and passion necessary to recruit people to work towards important goals through collaboration. Michelle has incredible dedication to those who work or intern for her, and goes to extreme lengths to make sure that operations run smoothly. I am extremely grateful to have had this experience”
-Megan Holt 2012
“It was one of the best experiences of my life. The Five Fingers setting is incredible – wildlife of all kinds, islands with hidden coves, gorgeous sunsets and sunrises surrounded by feeding humpbacks. It’s thrilling to live surrounded by islands and biological systems that are largely unexplored. I had such a great time poking around in different microhabitats and pondering the ecology of the islands, tidepools, and surrounding sea.”
-Jen MacDougall 2011
“My summer working at Five Finger Lighthouse exceeded far beyond my greatest expectations. There are few places in the world that can compare with Southeast Alaska, and even fewer experiences that come close to living in a remote lighthouse. From, sea kayaking, cooking fresh fish, enjoying great company, to observing some of the most fantastic animals on the planet, there was never a dull moment.
Working at the lighthouse was not only fun, but was also extremely valuable in terms of helping me build practical skills as a budding scientist.”
-Lindsey Neilson 2011