Environmental Science Intern: Galen Oettel

Galen Oettel

Galen Oettel is an Environmental Science Intern for Freshkills Park. Born and raised in New York City, he’s currently a rising junior at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts. Galen is majoring in Environmental Science and plans to pursue a graduate degree in Geographic Information Systems (GIS).

What are you working on, and why do you think it’s interesting?

I conduct fieldwork including water monitoring, bird banding, and fish monitoring at Freshkills Park. I will also pursue an independent research project to capture fox activity within the park using trail cameras. Each day of my internship has offered variety in activities, interesting and engaging. While one day might be spent kayaking out in the park and taking water quality samples, on the next I help advertise the park at the Staten Island Zoo.

What drew you to Freshkills Park?

Freshkills Park has been on my radar ever since I knew I wanted to work in the environmental field. The number of plants and animals returning to what was once the world’s largest landfill is inspiring and to witness the transformation firsthand feels like a very special opportunity. It’s truly a dream come true to be here.

What is your favorite topic surrounding Freshkills Park and why?

My favorite topic surrounding Freshkills Park is its wildlife. Within the park’s thousands of acres are grasslands, salt marshes, ponds, and forests, which all support a great biodiversity of fauna. Some of my favorite animals that can be found within the park include the northern harrier, red fox, and diamondback terrapin.

What is your favorite color?


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