August 11, 2022
By Haley Dittbrenner ’25
Through connections he made from his winter break job, Jacob Tomasulo ’23 landed an incredible summer internship fueled by danger and rewarded with adventure — and in the most picturesque backdrops of the country.
Tomasulo was first introduced to the Student Conservation Association when he worked at the Castaic Lake and Angeles National Forest in Southern California. At his summer internship with SCA, he was immediately accepted into the fire crew and trained as a wildland firefighter.
The biology and economics double major found work on hand crews in Yosemite National Park, Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks and Crater Lake National Park. One of his main tasks was forest thinning — the process of removing trees to give others the resources needed for growth — and pile burning, or what Tomasulo describes as “a large campfire.” He also studied fire effects, or interactions between the heat of a fire and the natural properties of a given ecosystem, with fire ecologists.
Citing the skills he learned at Susquehanna’s Freshwater Research Institute as being exceptionally helpful in his internship, Tomasulo said, “While they are very different aspects of conservation, going out to the streams with the FRI to do field research is applicable to doing things like fire effects monitoring — they both involve doing science in the field in the name of conservation.”
Working with the fire crews required constant camping, something Tomasulo described as both a challenge and a blessing.
“Everyone was so friendly and really wanted to take me under their wing and teach me what they know,” Tomasulo said. “All of the veterans want you to be just as successful as they are, and are happy to have you there.”
In addition to the relationships he forged during his internship, Tomasulo also found his off-duty experiences rewarding.
“In a word, adventure is what I loved the most,” the Nottingham, Pennsylvania, native recalled. “The thrill of cowboy camping under the stars with no tent, seeing the Milky Way, bathing in the snowmelt of mountain streams and spending hours in a cave to do wilderness first aid training is what I enjoyed,” Tomasulo said of his experience, “I also the saw the inexplainable beauty that these places offer, surrounded by the mountains of Yosemite and the incredible sequoias of Kings Canyon.”
Tomasulo is still considering his post-graduation options, whether that may be pursuing a master’s degree, obtaining a doctorate, entering the workforce, or something else entirely. He is interested in joining organizations that combine his interests in economics and the environment, such as the Blue Forest Conservation and The Property and Environment Research Center.