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Meet Hillary Chavez: Celebra Las Aves intern, Chugach NF

ALASKA—Hillary Chavez is a Celebra Las Aves (celebrate birds) intern from Environment for the Americas working on the Chugach National Forest at the ranger district in Cordova, Alaska. EFTA is a nonprofit organization that works with government agencies as well as private and nonprofit organizations in the Western hemisphere to protect and promote the conservation of natural resources and birds. The internship program is part of hemispheric shared stewardship efforts to conserve birds through research and community-based education.

Chavez was born and raised in Los Angeles and got her Bachelor of Arts Degree in biology from Kenyon College in Ohio. Before arriving in Alaska, she worked with chickadees in Ohio, Leach’s storm petrels in New Brunswick and whooping cranes in Wisconsin. She started on the Chugach National Forest in March 2018 with the primary responsibility of engaging people from the community as citizen scientists.

Chavez and citizen scientists from the community are recording the abundance of shorebirds on the Copper River Delta as part of the Pacific Flyway Shorebird Surveys along the Pacific Coast. Cordova is one of 26 survey locations North America. Hosted by Point Blue Conservation Science and EFTA, partners for this project include the Forest Service and Copper River International Migratory Bird Initiative. Chavez has observed western sandpipers, least sandpipers, dunlin, dowitchers, godwits, whimbrels and black oystercatchers, and on May 6, she observed over 11,000 shorebirds, the largest number recorded in one day this season.

Her internship also included participation in planning, outreach and youth activities for the Copper River Delta Shorebird Festival, which was held the first week in May. She engaged local businesses and painted shorebirds on local stores and business windows. She worked with the Prince William Sound Science Center to develop several youth activities, including visiting the local elementary school to teach students about shorebirds. She is a natural at teaching shared stewardship to youth and adults in the community.

Visit Celebra Las Aves' intern blog for Chavez’s stories.

Photo: Hillary Chavez uses a telescope to spot birds.
Hillary Chavez, Environment for the Americas intern, conducts shorebird surveys at Hartney Bay. Forest Service photo by Melissa Gabrielson.
Photo: Two women use telescopes to scan the skies for birds over the bay.
Hillary Chavez, Environment for the Americas intern, and Mirna Borrego, Terra Peninsular intern, survey shorebirds at Hartney Bay. Forest Service photo by Melissa Gabrielson.