Tyler Barns graduated in June from Oregon State’s Professional Science Master’s program. While he was here he worked as an intern for Oregon Explorer, a digital library that houses information on the state’s natural resources. Currently, he is working as a biologist for WRA Environmental Consultants in San Rafael, Calif. He specializes in rare plant surveys in wetlands. We had the chance to talk to Barns about his internship, what he did there and tips he has for other students.
Could you briefly explain the Professional Science Master’s program?
The Professional Science Master’s (PSM) program is communications, ethics and science-based, so you learn a lot more about business and how it applies. There are multiple tracts of the PSM programs. I’m in the Environmental Science tract with a focus on natural resources. It’s a terminal degree, so we take it and go into the work force right from the program.
What is Oregon Explorer, and what was your role there?
Oregon Explorer is a digital natural resources library that houses geospatial information and content regarding the state of Oregon’s natural resources. Generally, it’s used for science- based researchers, teachers, students, natural resource planners – anybody who works for the government and needs information about natural resources in the state.
Oregon Explorer is a great program, and I wish more people knew about it. There’s a lot of content on there, like erosion in your area, or fire and floods. It’s a collaboration of the Institute for Natural Resources, OSU Libraries and a few other Oregon State government agencies, so it’s a great learning opportunity and promotes Oregon’s natural resources.
I was a technician, so I was doing data uploads, documenting, going through and adding pictures and text to web pages. And then I also did a lot of work with the Hazards Explorer, which is now up and running, some work with the Wetlands Explorer and Imagery Explorer.
What gave you the idea and the interest to apply for this?
We were working in my Geo 465/565 class, which is Dawn Wright’s class, and Kuuipo Walsh and Marc Rempel came in and gave a talk about Oregon Explorer, and they said there was an internship involved, so I went over and applied for that. It qualified as an internship for my program as well, which is required, so it killed two birds with one stone.
What would you tell students that may help them find the internship they’re looking for?
Basically, keep your eyes open for opportunities and make sure that you have all your paperwork in order so that you’re not going to get caught up on something else. You definitely want to research, get yourself involved in GIS or geosciences if those are your majors, go to meetings and talk to an adviser to make sure you know what you can do. Just focus on what you want to do, have a broad horizon coming in and kind of focus more on some specific things as you go through the years.
Go into each class with an open mind, and learn how to make friends and get to study groups, and then take that experience and apply it to every class that you have. Make sure you have a solid work ethic and work habit that will help you get through the hard parts that you need to get through.