Meet AWC’s interns: Arnika Thorbjornsen

Wayne Lawler/AWC

Australian Wildlife Conservancy (AWC) offers opportunities for promising graduate students to gain valuable conservation field experience via our Internship Program. Current intern, Arnika Thorbjornsen, shares her experiences below.

When did you start your internship? How are you finding it?

I began my internship at the start of January 2024, and I’ll be finishing up at the end of June. It’s been a highly rewarding experience being able to work with a range of threatened species, especially living on sanctuary at Yookamurra and having the opportunity to spot Numbats outside the office while you’re working really makes me appreciate the career I’ve chosen.

What are your long-term goals in the science field?

I would love to continue my career in conservation and try to help make a difference to Australia’s wildlife, hopefully travelling around Australia to experience the different landscapes and country, working with a range of native species.

Arnika with a Boodie (Burrowing Bettong). AWC
Arnika with a Boodie (Burrowing Bettong).

What enticed you to apply?

I have always had an avid interest in Australia’s wildlife and AWC provides a unique opportunity to apply this in a conservation sense and work alongside threatened species. I have always wanted to help in making a change and applied for the internship in hopes to start my professional growth as a conservation ecologist.

What were some of your expectations going in?

I was hoping to expand upon my experience in mammal trapping and expand my skillset as an ecologist. While based at Yookamurra I was also hoping to improve upon my science communication skills through the education program and educate school kids in Australia’s wildlife. By the end of my internship, I’m hoping I’ll be more employable and have developed my professional skills further, making myself a better ecologist and science communicator.

Arnika with a Barking Gecko. AWC
Arnika with a Barking Gecko.

What were elements of the program have surprised you so far?

I was surprised by how much I was allowed to work independently throughout the sanctuary and how easy it was to get used to living on sanctuary with the rest of the team. It really made it easy to fit right in and become one of the team at Yookamurra.

Have you completed any other science internships? If so, how does this one differ?

This is my first science internship and I’m hoping it will kick-start my career in conservation and help me develop my skills as an ecologist.

Arnika with a Numbat Aliesha Dodson/AWC
Arnika with a Numbat.

Is there a unique moment in the internship so far that you’ve really enjoyed or that stood out as a moment you’ll always remember?

I’m certain my entire internship will be memorable but there are a few stand out moments so far; I spent some time at Mt Gibson radio-tracking Numbats and had the experience of handling them to remove collars and it was amazing to be up and close with these cool animals, especially after tracking them for so long. I’ve also had the opportunity to do some Bilby netting and I will always remember working closely with these mammals as they’re such an iconic Australian marsupial and it’s such a unique experience not often available.

Would you recommend it to others interested in science-led conservation and why?

I would absolutely recommend this internship to others. AWC provides such an amazing experience for people at the start of their career, and I know I’ve personally had some experiences that I’ll never forget and grown so much as a person and as an ecologist during my stay with AWC.