Budding Biologist Builds Resume in Michigan

Jul 06, 2020

Senior Maille O’Toole is an intern for the Wildlife Department of the U.S. Forest Service.

summer internship

Maille O'Toole at her summer internship in Michigan.


This summer Maille O’Toole is building her resume in Michigan as she prepares for a career in wildlife biology. 

A senior majoring in fisheries and wildlife biology, O’Toole is an intern for the Wildlife Department of the U.S. Forest Service in the Manistee National Forest, in Michigan. 

She works alongside wildlife technicians doing surveys and monitoring for a number of federally-classified sensitive species, including the goshawk, red-shouldered hawk, Louisiana waterthrush, cerulean warbler, box turtles, wood turtles, spotted turtles, massasauga rattlesnakes, and piping plovers.

“I get the chance to use a variety of equipment, such as a radio telemetry device to locate animals and track their movements, and we are out in the field every day working on something new” she said.

O’Toole said that the earlier part of her internship, which will end in August, focused on survey work before intensifying with habitat restoration efforts.

She spent time working at savannah restoration sites, where they reseeded a five-mile section with native grasses. Her group then dug holes and planted nearly 50 barrier posts between three sites to stop any motorized vehicles from entering.

“The running joke was that we were living out the movie Holes in real life,” O’Toole said.

Finally, they planted milkweed at all of the sites to promote Monarch butterflies laying eggs in the area.

She is receiving credits, housing, and a weekly stipend.

“This internship helps me tremendously and is an invaluable experience,” O’Toole said. “I have learned so much in the past few weeks I have been here, and the skills I am acquiring here are priceless.

“Thanks to this internship, my experiences with the Forest Service will really advance my resume.”

O’Toole’s summer internship continues a relationship with Cal U started 14 years ago by Dr. Carol Bocetti, professor in Cal U’s Department of Biology, Geology and Environmental Sciences. 

“The forest and district biologists are very receptive to my recommendations for Cal U students based on the excellent performances of our students over the years, and I knew Maille would continue this trend because she is so dedicated and enthusiastic,” Bocetti said. 

“They report that our students are well prepared for field work and are highly motivated to build additional professional skills. It has been a very good relationship for both forests and for Cal U.” 

A native of Venetia, Pa., who is also vice president of the Cal U Equestrian Team, O’Toole transferred to Cal U last fall after earning her associate degree from Potomac State College.

She secured the summer internship with Bocetti before Cal U switched to remote operations. O’Toole plans to return to campus this fall.

“I love the classes here, although they are rigorous,” she said. “I am so grateful to Dr. Bocetti for helping me with my transition to Cal U, and setting this internship up for me. 

“I feel much more prepared for starting my career thanks to her and this internship.”