During Women’s History Month, the National Park Service (NPS) celebrates a tradition of service and leadership that continues today in many NPS fields, including natural and cultural resource management, law enforcement, interpretation, administration, and much more. In honor of women’s history, several national park rangers from Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area shared their insights about their roles and responsibilities, and provided advice for future generations of scientists.
KATY DELANEY, wildlife ecologist
For many years, I have monitored reptile and amphibian populations in the Santa Monica Mountains. This work has led our park to recognize the need for preserving and restoring stream habitat and biodiversity. I started a project to reintroduce the federally threatened California red-legged frog to these mountains to achieve those goals. The work is ongoing, and despite many challenges, we’ve experienced a measure of real success. My job is important because I’m trying to restore and preserve biodiversity in a highly fragmented city landscape.
DENISE KAMRADT, GIS specialist
A Geographic Information System (GIS) is a computer-based system used to store, manage, analyze, and display geographically referenced information—basically anything you can put on a map. In my job, I use GIS to examine spatial relationships and changes both between data layers and over time. For example, do bobcats favor one type of habitat over others or how has the distribution of coastal sage scrub changed? Another vital part of my position is keeping all of our scientific and park data organized and accessible, and ensuring it gets used. I’ve always loved maps. What could be better than an NPS job working with maps all day?
KATIE MCDANIEL, bobcat intern
I research bobcat movement throughout the park using cameras, collars, and radio telemetry. My position helps in answering important questions that we have about bobcat behavior in urban environments. The more information scientists have, the better they can make decisions that aid in the conservation of this species.
My advice to other women and girls in science is to stay authentic in pursuing what you find exciting and important. Don’t worry if your colleagues don’t always look or think the way you do. Science is more robust when all perspectives, experiences, and differences are considered. Also, science—especially natural resources—is fun!
JOANNE MORIARTY, ecologist
I work on one of the longest bobcat studies ever. My research works to identify and understand challenges that urban carnivores face as they navigate and persist in complex, developed, and fragmented habitats. For almost 20 years, I’ve used VHF radio and GPS telemetry to study and track hundreds of bobcats in our region. I capture and sedate the bobcats, affix radio collars, record measurements and take blood and tissue samples for analysis. I also set up remote cameras and do scat surveys to learn more about the local bobcat population. My advice to those pursuing the career of their dreams? Luck comes to those who are prepared. Always be the most prepared one in the room.
ANNIE STEVENS, mountain lion technician
I do fieldwork related to our mountain lion research. I help collar, tag and collect blood, tissue and other biological samples from these fascinating animals. Recently, we captured P-95, the 95th mountain lion in our study! I feel lucky to help conduct research that is used to influence mountain lion conservation. My advice to other burgeoning scientists? What you lack in experience, make up with effort.
SARAH WENNER, biological technician
I work on the California red-legged frog reintroduction project, which aims to establish self-sustaining populations in the Santa Monica Mountains where the frogs were once abundant. To accomplish this, I assist with translocations from a nearby source population and perform regular monitoring of the sites to estimate persistence throughout the year. I consider this work important because it promotes conservation of natural resources and biodiversity in our park. My advice to my fellow scientists is to take every step with intention and always seek out new perspectives.