As a high school student born and raised in Barrow, Stephanie Nelson didn’t focus much on extra curricular activities outside of basketball and wasn’t sure what she wanted to do upon graduation. Then, during her senior year of high school, Stephanie applied for ANSEP’s Summer Bridge program and landed an internship with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in Fairbanks. After that, she knew she wanted to pursue a STEM career.
As a biological sciences aid, Stephanie spent the summer piloting the use of BLM’s Assessment, Inventory and Monitoring (AIM) Strategy. According to BLM, the AIM Strategy “provides a process for aids to collect quantitative information on the status, condition, trend, amount, location and spatial pattern of renewable resources on public lands.”
Stephanie recalls the exciting certifications and training opportunities she went through during the internship.
“We tested the water quality in streams and mining areas at random selections sites. Some of my duties included bug surveying, rock scrubbing and vegetation analysis, all of which involved taking samples every few meters at those sites,” she said. “Every week we were at a new location. We flew in by helicopter and then drove to sites such as Chicken or Circle to survey the area. We were required to do helicopter training, which led to a certification. We also learned about wilderness and bear safety. It was a really useful, real-world experience,” she said.
After Summer Bridge, Stephanie became involved with ANSEP’s University Success component. Currently, she is in her third year at the University of Alaska Anchorage, where she is working toward a degree in natural sciences with an emphasis on environmental management. Stephanie is also gaining additional career experience working as a paid intern at Arctic Slope Regional Corporation (ASRC) Energy Services.
Looking back, Stephanie wishes she had listened to the advice of her father, a former ANSEP student, and taken advantage of opportunities with the program sooner.
“There are a lot of opportunities available with ANSEP and in the STEM field,” Stephanie said. “It’s just a matter of discovering them and getting out of your comfort zone.”