By U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Volunteer Kyle Richardson (K2)
Aloha from Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge! The new 6-month Biological Field Crew Volunteers, and they–or rather, we, as that goofy character on the far right is yours truly—have just arrived on Kuaihelani (Midway Atoll). This crew is made up of quite a mix of experience and qualifications.
On the far left is Lisa Brouellette, from Minnetonka, MN. Lisa studied Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities before gaining her MS in Interpreted Bioscience at U of M-Duluth. Lisa coupled this education with work in avian field ecology and a position with the Wisconsin Conservation division of AmeriCorps to prepare her for a life in service of habitat restoration. A passion for the protection and restoration of this globally important site brought Lisa to Kuaihelani and we are lucky to have her.
Contemplative and studious is Calvin Grigal in the dark green shirt. Calvin comes to us from Fredon, NJ and is a Biology and Biological Anthropology graduate of THE College of New Jersey. Post-grad, Calvin spent his time working in forest management and invasive species removal in North Jersey before looking for a unique opportunity and some new skill sets. While searching for short-term, Pacific Ocean-based marine biology conservation jobs, Mr. Grigal found out about volunteering on Kuaihelani and jumped at the chance to be a part of something special.
With a chick along for the ride and a photobomber in the background, Nick Minnich hails from Harrisburg, PA, and is an alum of Messiah University. Nick has taken his Environmental Science degree and experience as president of Messiah’s Ornithology Club into the field to pursue his aviary passion. While working for the Cape May National Wildlife Refuge, Nick found the Midway Field Crew job posting, and set about fulfilling a lifelong desire to get up close and personal with the birds of Kuaihelani.
Finally, there’s me, Kyle Richardson (known affectionately as K2) from Ft. Worth, TX. Not much to say about me other than I love field work and volunteering and want to help native species thrive everywhere. Kuaihelani is a spectacular place that I hope to leave better than I found it. I consider it a privilege to be able to be here and I am happy to share Kuaihelani with you in my off hours.
Arriving on the heels of the Midway Atoll Seabird Protection Project (SPP), this field crew has hit the ground running. In less than two weeks we have learned invasive plant removal, avian vet-tech care, boating safety, and how four strangers can share three and a half bedrooms. We are currently enmeshed in Non-target Species Mitigation to minimize the impact of the SPP on the endangered and threatened bird species that call Kuaihelani home. We are capturing, feeding, treating and releasing dozens of Laysan ducks, kōlea (Pacific golden plovers), ʻakekeke (ruddy turnstones), and kio’ea (bristle-thighed curlews) on a daily basis. Trial by fire indeed! This is going to be a wild ride.
We have not yet been introduced to Midway’s alter ego, Pihemanu, but as nunulu (Bonin petrel) and mōlī (albatross) begin to return, so will the cacophony of loud birds…and we cannot wait! If you are interested in what the field crew is up to, be sure to check out the FOMA homepage for regular updates from me, K2.