Erica Holm and Jenny Kerr


Erica Holm knows something about making plans. This native of Hudson, New Hampshire is a member of the University Honors Program and will graduate in 2016 with a bachelor’s of science in wildlife and conservation biology. From there, she plans to work a few seasons in the field, go to grad school, and secure a state or private position as a wildlife biologist. Despite her own strong planning, Erica learned that "the process of research is not often smooth . . . it’s like planning something that is almost certain to veer off!" Despite the tumult, Erica appreciated the excitement of research and working with species she had not yet encountered in the field. “It taught me how to apply classroom techniques and principles to real-life situations . . . and to develop knowledge of many subtleties of shrubland birds, especially in regards to birdsong.” The project brought Erica new networks and opportunities as well. “It opens up opportunities for connections with birders and the Audubon society, and has secured another season of field work for me for the coming summer," she says. “It also showed me that the job of a wildlife technician encompasses more than I expected!” 


For Jenny Leigh Gibson Kerr, a bird in the hand might very well be worth two in the bush. An aspiring conservationist, Jenny is a zoology major with a minor in wildlife and conservation biology, and she will graduate in 2016 with a bachelor’s of science. Encouraged by Professor Matt Tarr, with whom she took a course in wildlife habitats, Jenny investigated the decline of shrubland birds in New Hampshire with the support of a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF). The experience had many rewards; Jenny was delighted by "unexpected sightings in the field," and the chance to "learn different birdcalls," which, she says, was similar to learning a new language. Jenny plans to work in conservation behavior in the future, and this research provided her with firsthand experience “with how songbirds behave in the nesting season versus how they behave at the end of the season.” Jenny was also excited to gain experience in mist netting and bird banding techniques. She says that the best part, however, is that “the data gained from this study may go on to help slow the decline of some shrubland birds in New Hampshire.”