Lauren Augustine bugged out when she realized she had been accepted for the chance of a lifetime.
Excelling above the rest, the Wildlife Conservation Society employee was one of the privileged few selected to participate in a 10-day climate change and caterpillar study in Quito, Ecuador.
Led by Lee Dryer, an ecologist, and a team of researchers, Augustine will have a chance to explore the species and the impact the surrounding environment and climate change has had on them.
Flying into Quito on Tuesday, July 21, Augustine will be based out of the Yanayacu Biological Station, approximately 2,200 meters above seas level, while studying the life stages of the caterpillar.
“Going into the field will give me the experience to head out and develop my own guidelines and plans in the future,” said Augustine. “This provides a great opportunity to experience and work with caterpillars.”
The Bronx Park East resident is currently breeding Panamanian Golden frogs and training crocodiles for the Wildlife Conservation Society, but first developed her unique passion while growing up in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.
“When I was little my dad would take us out in the field and measure snakes against us. He used to collect caterpillars and butterflies himself as a kid,” recalls Augustine. “I studied environmental biology and fell into the Baltimore Zoo, and it led me here.”
The trip is through Earthwatch Institute, an organization dedicated to scientific field study and education in order to maintain a sustainable environment.
Augustine’s trip is sponsored by Alexandra Gardiner Goelet, with additional materials donated by a Patagonia store in Manhattan.
“We are very proud that Lauren has been chosen to participate and gain valuable field experience,” said John Calvelli, executive vice president of public affairs for WCS. “We are also grateful to Earthwatch for offering this wonderful opportunity and to Alexandra Gardiner Goelet for her generous support of Lauren’s work.”