Meet AWC’s interns: Megan Suthers

Jane Palmer/AWC

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

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

I started my internship in February of 2024 and I have been having the most amazing time since! I can honestly say it has been a dream come true to be able to work with the threatened wildlife here at Mt Gibson Wildlife Sanctuary. I have really enjoyed getting the opportunity to live on sanctuary and get to know the land and the wildlife. It has made the work even more meaningful because for these six months, the sanctuary has become home.

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

I would really love to make ecology and conservation my career. I aspire to continue building my skills and experience in broad-scale landscape restoration and wildlife conservation. One day, I would also like to complete a PhD. I am not sure what I would like to specialise in so for the moment I am enjoying focusing on learning as much as I can and exploring different Australian landscapes.

Intern Megan Suthers with a Shingleback Skink Salvino Mamo/AWC

How did you hear about AWC’s science program? 

I originally heard about the AWC intern program through word of mouth at university. As I majored in Ecology, a lot of my cohort were often talking about the cool things AWC was working on. I then learnt about how to get involved with AWC and was excited to apply for the internship.

What enticed you to apply?

I was enticed to apply for an AWC internship after learning about the wide range of projects involved within the program. I wanted to gain the hands-on experience in field ecology and applied conservation that the internship has to offer and to be a part of the meaningful projects AWC conducts. I additionally thought it would be really cool to get the chance to learn about and work with Australia’s threatened wildlife.

Intern Megan Suthers at Mt Gibson Wildlife Sanctuary, Western Australia. Salvino Mamo/AWC

What were some of your expectations going in?

I am not too sure what I was expecting. The whole experience was quite unknown as I had only been to Western Australia once before, let alone living in the remote mid-west! I was just very excited to spend some time with the threatened wildlife we are conserving here at Mt Gibson.

Intern Megan Suthers with a Barking Gecko Salvino Mamo/AWC

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

I was surprised at the level of practical experience you get as an intern. I was half expecting to do a lot of the classic ‘intern duties’ like cleaning the lab or making coffee, but I have been assisting in doing amazing things like health checks of translocated Chuditch (Western Quoll), identifying what frogs have burrowed out of the ground during the rains, population surveys for Red-tailed Phascogales, and radiotracking Chuditch all across the sanctuary.

I am also surprised at the range of skills I am learning. For example, we needed to build wire fences around trap sites to prevent woylies from entering the traps while performing health checks on the Greater Stick-nest Rats. As a result, I now know how to build a fence and ‘twitch’ a wire as they say in the fence building world! Through gaining these wide range of skills, I feel as though I am learning how to become a well-rounded field ecologist and I am incredibly grateful for that.

Intern Megan Suthers prepares for Chuditch release at Mt Gibson Wildlife Sanctuary, Western Australia., Salvino Mamo/AWC

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

I have previously completed a Conservation and Land Management internship with Bush Heritage. I have found both intern programs of the two organisations wonderful but are set up quite differently. With Bush Heritage I was solely focused on completing a project which was to map the distribution of buffel grass across the reserve via drone imagery. Here at AWC, I am finding that I am gaining experience in broad range of skills and assisting with many different tasks throughout the sanctuary.

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?

An experience that I will never forget is releasing my first translocated Chuditch (Western quoll), we named ‘Beaver’, on to Mt Gibson Sanctuary. It was such a special moment to watch her wonder off into the night and to think that she may help re-establish a population at Mt Gibson after Chuditch have been locally extinct for several decades. It was an amazing and beautiful experience.

Intern Megan Suthers releases 'Beaver' the Chuditch at Mt Gibson Wildlife Sanctuary, Western Australia. Salvino Mamo/AWC

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

I couldn’t recommend this program enough. I consider the skills that I have learned in the past couple of months to be invaluable to my career development and I feel incredibly lucky to have been granted the opportunity. I am sure that I will carry the skills that I have learnt here at Mt Gibson through to my future career in conservation and ecology.