Sunrise light on a grove of tufa towers emerging from the water of Mono Lake with soft green and dusty-red wild grasses in the foreground, Canada geese in the shallow water with reflections of the rocky towers, and desert hills in the distance.

Fall 2019 Mono Lake Committee staff migrations

The 2019 Mono Lake Committee staff. Photo by Andrew Youssef.

This post was written by Jessica Schneider, 2015-2020 Office Director, 2011-2013 Information Center & Bookstore Manager, and 2010 Information Center & Bookstore Assistant.

In a blink, summer 2019 came to a close and another excellent group of seasonal staff headed out into the world, in one way or another changed by their time spent in the Mono Basin.

When not answering questions on the front counter, Information Center & Bookstore Assistant Kevin Brown also presented his talk, “Save the Pupfish! History, Water, and the Surprising Persistence of the Devils Hole Pupfish,” at our Refreshments with Refreshing ‘Ologists lecture series.

Merryn Venugopal is sticking around the Eastern Sierra for the winter after a great summer as Information Center & Bookstore Assistant. We were fortunate to have her professionalism and experience with retail systems at the front counter all season.

Back for her second season as Canoe Coordinator, Alison Kaplan captained the Mono Lake Intern crew in leading weekend canoe tours for 680 guests, plus canoe tours for Lee Vining Elementary School and High School students, and a dozen custom tours too.

Each summer, Mono Lake Interns undergo two full weeks of training. Following the Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua, they immediately start conducting daily South Tufa tours, weekend canoe tours, Information Center & Bookstore shifts, pop-up interpretation in front of the bookstore, and answering phones in the back office. On top of these tasks they are expected to write Mono-logue posts, help at the Outdoor Education Center, assist with stream monitoring, help with the Trail Chic Fashion Show Fundraiser, and work the Tioga Pass Run. Each intern has individual projects as well.

Birding Intern Krista Fanucchi took her expert ornithology knowledge to County Park and up Lundy Canyon for a summer of well-attended weekend bird walks. Krista helped with the Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua and assisted with Point Blue Conservation Science’s gull research and phalarope counts organized by Oikonos Ecosystem Knowledge and California State Parks.

Mono Lake Intern Caroline Bottega had a busy summer checking piezometers to measure groundwater levels on tributary streams, maintaining the Mono Lake Committee’s social media accounts, and keeping town stocked with Mono Lake information as town ambassador. She is now in Jackson, Wyoming, working with the Teton Science School’s AmeriCorps program. Caroline was this year’s Don Douglass Memorial Intern.

Meghan Cihasky, Mono Lake Intern, monitored willow growth on Rush Creek, worked on the invasive plant interpretive program, and helped with a plethora of other office tasks. She is attending the University of Colorado at Boulder this fall.

As a Mono Lake Intern, Chloe Isaacs helped with the Committee’s social media, served as internet community ambassador, kept membership items stocked in the back office and bookstore, and helped retrieve data from field cameras. She is now working at Pinnacles National Park as an Interpretation, Education, and Visitor Services Intern.

AnnaLisa Mayer, Mono Lake Intern, organized the local Great Sierra River Cleanup day, worked on the invasive species interpretive program, monitored willow growth, did the thankless task of keeping the heavily-used South Tufa packs cleaned and organized, and helped with membership. AnnaLisa was this year’s Ruth Borun Intern.

Mono Lake Intern Ellie Neifeld organized an impressive agenda of Refreshments with Refreshing ‘Ologists talks on Wednesday afternoons in the Mono Lake Theater & Gallery throughout the summer. She also kept the bookstore’s brine shrimp tank clean and stocked with Mono Lake’s Artemia monica, and helped retrieve data from field cameras.

A huge thank you to all of our seasonal staff who helped introduce so many visitors to the wonders of Mono Lake!

Interested in working at Mono Lake, or know someone who might be? We accept applications for seasonal staff positions each year starting January 1. Find more information here.

This post was also published as an article in the Fall 2019 Mono Lake Newsletter (page 26).