Pinnacles Peek: First flight for condor intern

Patrick Frusetta has done a lot for the program and always had a great attitude.

Pinnacles National Park—sometimes called “The secret gem of the Central Coast”—has towering rock formations that formed approximately 23 million years ago, historic structures from the first homesteaders, buildings constructed by the the Civilian Conservation Corps, and wildlife activities like the California Condor Recovery Program.
Editor’s note: Pinnacles Peek features will run monthly in the Free Lance Lifestyles section as a new partnership with Pinnacles National Park, which provides the content.
Pinnacles National Park—sometimes called “The secret gem of the Central Coast”—has towering rock formations that formed approximately 23 million years ago, historic structures from the first homesteaders, buildings constructed by the the Civilian Conservation Corps, and wildlife activities like the California Condor Recovery Program.
Alongside park rangers, Pinnacles National Park counts on interns and volunteers to operate. One of our youngest resource management interns finished a successful season at the end of December. Born in Gilroy and raised in Paicines, Patrick Frusetta started in the workforce with excitement and positivism. Here are his thoughts as he reflects on his term of service as an American Conservation Experience AmeriCorps member.
Q: Patrick, what was the motivation behind working at Pinnacles?
A: The love for nature has been one of my main motivations to work at Pinnacles. I grew up in the area so hiking and exploring has been part of my life.
Q: We know that park rangers interact with a lot of people. How was your experience when engaging with visitors?
A: It was great! But at Pinnacles you don’t just interact with the local community—you interact with people from all over the world, which makes the job really fun.
Frusetta’s operations were monitored by Jennie Jones, Condor Field Crew leader with the California Condor Program. Some of Frusetta’s duties included radio tracking, handling and trapping condors. Rachel Wolstenholme, Condor Program manager, expressed her admiration for his work ethic at the Pinnacles.
“Patrick has done a lot for the program and always had a great attitude. It is great to see young people like him taking advantage of these opportunities,” she said.
Q: Straight out of high school and right into your first job—what skills did you learn?
A: Interacting with the public, tracking condors, monitoring populations, and condor behavior and lifestyle. As my first job, I consider it a total success!
Q: From when you first heard that you were going to be working at Pinnacles National Park, to the time when you left your internship, did Pinnacles meet your expectations?
A: Pinnacles exceeded my expectations. I stayed for more than the stipulated time, and it was enjoyable for me. A lot of these connections and the things that they taught me will serve me for life. More than teachers and supervisors, they were mentors to me.
Frusetta finished his assignment after an extension through December, and he plans on pursuing his education in environmental studies or law enforcement. At the end of the internship, he was awarded with an AmeriCorps Segal Educational Award, which will help in his path of constant adventure and discovery.
When asked what the most memorable part of his time at Pinnacles National Park was, Frusetta said:
“Seeing condors get released, there was a sense of satisfaction that I couldn’t describe as they flew away. Some of them would stick around, but in that moment during their initial flight with their wings wide open and suspended in mid-air … They somehow knew that they were free.”
This internship was made possible through a partnership with American Conservation Experience. ACE AmeriCorps programs are designed to provide American youth with opportunities for personal and professional development as well as the hands-on job-skills training necessary for advancement in outdoor careers, all while meeting critical environmental needs in America’s national parks, forests, wildlife refuges and other public lands. To learn more about ACE and their programs visit www.usaconservation.org.

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