Wildlife Research, Monitoring & Mentoring

Mentoring for a Sustainable Future


Our headquarters is as busy as a bee hive these days, especially with the arrival of the last of our seasonal staff and interns. This month we welcomed back four returning summer staff and one new volunteer intern. Mentoring is a key part of our mission, and the summer season is when we dedicate a signficiant portion of our time to helping college students and young professionals find their way to successful careers in conservation. Read on to learn a bit about them and their focus for the summer.


Sakiko Isomichi


Sakiko is a Martha’s Vineyard Vision Fellow and is well known for her work on recycling initiatives here in our community. After working as a gardener and landscaper for several seasons, she saw the possibilities for incorporating more sustainable practices into the island’s landscaping industry and decided to pursue a Master’s degree at Harvard in Landscape Architecture. BiodiversityWorks and our Natural Neighbors program were a perfect match for her interests when she sought a sponsor organization for her fellowship.

In 2023, Sakiko won a Harvard fellowship that funded surveys and interviews to identify barriers to planting native plants. She expanded that work with focus groups over the winter, interviewing stakeholders in the landscaping industry to learn more. Using what she learned, she’s now working with staff from BiodiversityWorks, Polly Hill Arboretum, the Martha’s Vineyard Commission, and Vineyard Conservation Society on outreach materials to promote native plants in landscaping. She’s also summarizing her results that she will share in presentations this summer.

 Parker Fyfe-Kiernan

A wildlife major at the University of New Hampshire, Parker began working with us in 2022 learning about beach-nesting birds and pollinators as a field assistant. They returned in 2023 as a wildlife technician to focus entirely on beach-nesting bird monitoring where they honed their skills in re-sighting color banded terns and skimmers. After spending the winter studying abroad in New Zealand, Parker returned to us this summer ready to resume technician duties.

With their keen eyes and ears, Parker’s duties are split between two of their favorite groups of wildlife: insects and birds. They spend two days each week visiting eight island farms to monitor pollinator plots established by the Betsy and Jesse Fink Family Foundation. Parker captures photos of bees, butterflies, flies and other pollinators visiting the plots and then uploads them into the iNaturalist project. On the other three days of the week, Parker is back with their beloved beach-nesting piping plovers, terns, oystercatchers, and skimmers monitoring and protecting their nests and chicks. In September, they will return to UNH for one final semester.

Parker 2024

Sam Gurney


Sam is a a graduate of Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School and now a rising sophomore at the University of Tennessee pursuing a degree in Fisheries with the support of a Martha’s Vineyard Vision Fellowship.

Practically born with a fishing rod in his hand, few people are as passionate about conserving the island’s fish and freshwater ecosystems as Sam. For his fellowship project, Sam began surveying the island’s ponds and streams last summer to document the current status and distribution of freshwater fish species. In his second season with us, Sam will continue that work this summer, sharing his observations with the MV Atlas of Life. 


Oona Buresch Carroll

Oona is in her third summer as a part-time wildlife intern.  She has spent much of her life on the island observing nature with her family and biologist mother, Kendra Buresch. Oona is fascinated by all wildlife and has assisted with our spotted turtle research, beach-nesting bird conservation program and gathering re-sights of banded terns and black skimmers with her keen eyes. She’ll continue with re-sights this season as well as manage the camera trap data for the black racer road underpass and hibernacula at Long Point Wildlife Refuge. Occasionally, she moonlights with us on bat research.

Oona was the co-valedictorian of her class at Falmouth Academy this spring. She was awarded a Martha’s Vineyard Vision Fellowship to attend college this fall at Mt. Holyoke in Massachusetts, where she plans to study biology.

20230712_Oona Carrollb
Skyler crop and edit

Skyler Kardell


Skyler is a Nantucket native who decided to give the bigger island a try for a field season this year. He is a rising senior at Connecticut College majoring in Environmental Studies and Architecture.  His volunteer internship with us is allowing him to explore landscape architecture within our Natural Neighbors program one day each week.  His summer project focuses on proposals for native plantings as demonstration sites in town managed areas such as the rotary and road intersections.  

Skyler has been an avid birdwatcher since he was a young boy, and he enjoys putting his skills into conservation in his main summer job this season. You might see Skyler on Chappaquiddick beaches where he is the Lead Shorebird Technician for The Trustees.

<a href="https://biodiversityworksmv.org/author/luanne-2/" target="_self">Luanne Johnson</a>

Luanne Johnson


Luanne Johnson is the Director of BiodiversityWorks and a wildlife biologist. She has been monitoring, studying, and protecting wildlife on Martha's Vineyard for 27 years.

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