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Students will be combing Chilliwack wetlands for frog masses

The Oregon Spotted Frog is a critically endangered frog that is only found in a few remaining pockets of the Fraser Valley, like Chilliwack and Abbotsford. - submitted
The Oregon Spotted Frog is a critically endangered frog that is only found in a few remaining pockets of the Fraser Valley, like Chilliwack and Abbotsford.
— image credit: submitted

The Oregon Spotted Frog is a critically endangered frog that is only found in a few remaining pockets of the Fraser Valley, like Chilliwack and Abbotsford.

A couple of lucky students will get to job shadow biologists, combing wetlands for these rare frogs, egg masses and more.

Grade 11 and 12 students in Chilliwack, as well as Mission and Abbotsford are being invited by Fraser Valley Conservancy this month to apply for a spring break job.

It's open to senior students interested in conservation biology as a career. They'll get to work closely with the Precious Frog team, focused on the survival of the critically endangered Oregon Spotted Frog (OSF).

They will hunt down frog masses, catch frogs in traps and survey habitat areas with drones.

"This is an opportunity for students interested in pursuing this line of study at the post-secondary level," said Aleesha Switzer, junior biologist with the Fraser Valley Conservancy.

"It will give them a taste of what it is like to be a biologist. The target is getting students excited about entering this field."

The Precious Frog team of biologists are partnered with the Greater Vancouver Zoo and the OSF Recovery Team.

"Our main goal is the recovery of the species," Switzer said.

The current estimate is less than 400 breeding adults.

It's all been made more exciting with the discovery of additional pockets of surviving OSF populations in Abbotsford in 2014, and then in Chilliwack in 2015.

Switzer, 25, started volunteering to get experience doing field work with the OSF team in her first year of university.

"From that connection I found mentors and new opportunities."

Switzer now sees the job shadow candidates as in a similar place to where she was just a few years ago.

She has since obtained a bachelor of science degree in biology from University of the Fraser Valley, and is on contract to FVC working on OSF as the Precious Frog team.

They adopted the name "precious frog" for branding, because that's the Latin name for OSF, rana pretiosa, which means "precious frog."

It's a temporary paid position for two students from March 14 to March 25. The deadline for application is March 1.

It's a great opportunity for would-be biologists.

"We're going to take their hands and show them," said Switzer. "It's really important to be able to engage with young people who live around the habitat of these frogs.

"They could end up becoming pioneering biologists in their own backyard."

Full training and field gear will be provided. No previous experience required, just a willingness to learn and great enthusiasm for the outdoors. Send resum├ęs to Aleesha@fraservalleyconservancy.ca

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