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Hands-on learning: Meet the 2023 Stewardship Interns, Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve Stewardship Intern Program


As the busy season and summer temperatures begin here at Jasper Ridge, we are launching an  exciting new Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve Stewardship Intern Program. Meet our 2023 Stewardship Interns, Kiara Fufunan and Mary Ghebreselassie, two undergraduate students from Stanford University, who will be our first summer stewardship interns (read their biographies below). The two interns will join our team and work with Jasper Ridge staff, faculty, and docents to support expanding stewardship efforts at Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve for land management, protecting biodiversity, and developing resiliency for climate change. 


Out in the field! Mary (middle left) and Kiara (middle right), out in the field with Dr. Lau Gherardi (left) and Dr. Sheena Sidhu (right).

Together the group planned out field plots to monitor vegetation management and fuel reduction at Jasper Ridge.

Picture credit: JRBP staff. 


Supported by the Maxwell/Hanrahan Foundation with its mission to support innovative people working in field-based science, art and craft, teaching and protection of the natural world, the Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve Stewardship Intern Program is a new and prestigious initiative that empowers aspiring students interested in conservation. This immersive program was created for undergraduate students seeking hands-on, real-world experience with active environmental stewardship while developing skills in ecology, natural history and field work. Over the course of the summer, Mary and Kiara will work closely with Dr. Sheena Sidhu, our stewardship scientist, and other Stanford University researchers and land managers to directly support land management and stewardship efforts at Jasper Ridge, such as our vegetation management and fuel reduction efforts to mitigate wildfire risk. Mary and Kiara will also have the chance to interact with a wider and vibrant community of researchers, such as Dr. Lau Gherardi from UC Berkeley as he establishes a site for the Disturbance and Recovery Across Global Grasslands (DRAGNet) network here at Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve. The Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve Stewardship Intern Program promises to be a transformative experience not only for Mary and Kiara, but for the Jasper Ridge staff and community as we all embark on a new program that is closely aligned to our three pillars of research, education and stewardship. 

Hands-on learning! Jorge, Laureano, Mary and Kiara setting up the DRAGNet research site

at Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve. Photo credit: JRBP Staff


Kiara and Mary join us with a strong interest in ecology and passion for the natural world. Learn more about the interns below!


Kiara (left) and Mary (right), the 2023 Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve Stewardship interns.

Kiara (left) and Mary (right), the 2023 Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve Stewardship interns.

Kiara Fufunan

My name is Kiara Fufunan, and I am a rising junior studying Earth Systems in the Biosphere track. From digitizing archival records at the Field Museum to studying the Mogollon Highlands of Arizona, the majority of my research experiences have revolved around natural history, ecology, and science communication. Although I am entering my third year as an undergraduate at Stanford, this summer will be my first time visiting Jasper Ridge! I am excited to form a personal relationship with the preserve and participate in meaningful research & fieldwork. Though I am originally from Chicago, my family and I moved to the Bay Area last year. With California as both my new home and my place of study, I hope that my academic career will continue to center around issues that affect the local environment. As a Stewardship Intern at Jasper Ridge this summer, I look forward to developing a stronger connection with the landscape and learning how to design climate-based solutions that will best serve the region’s unique needs.


Mary Ghebreselassie

Hi! My name is Mary Ghebreselassie. I am a rising fourth-year undergraduate student studying International Relations. I was born in Eritrea and raised there for the first twelve years of my life. Home in the U.S. is Kansas City, Missouri.  Inspired by my encounters with the Preserve during BIO 47, a biology course I took this past spring, I wanted to expand my knowledge of ecology in the wonders of Jasper Ridge and its extraordinary biodiversity.  As a firm believer in the healing power of nature, and a strong desire to contribute to environmental conservation, I was immediately drawn to this internship. I am excited to learn techniques for vegetation management, wildfire resiliency, and watershed restoration. Looking ahead, I aspire to become a doctor. By embracing the beauty and resilience of the natural world, I hope to harness its healing potential and bring the principles of environmental stewardship into my future role as a physician. I am excited to explore the intersection of medicine and nature, fostering a profound appreciation for the environment's role in promoting wellness and serving as an advocate for both patient health and the preservation of our planet.