Meet the new station scientist

Victoria Simons joins the team at Itasca.
May 21, 2024

Victoria Simons is a Bemidji State University alumna who went on to graduate from Colorado State University in 2023 with a master’s degree in Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Biology, where she studied foraging and provisioning behavior in birds. Taking the position as Station Scientist this winter was a full circle moment for Simons, who spent lots of time as an undergrad conducting ornithology research at Itasca.

How did you get connected to the station?
While I was an undergrad at Bemidji State University, my advisor put me in touch with Dr. Sarah Knutie, a visiting scientist who does bluebird and tree swallow research at the station. I got to spend a summer here at the station as a field technician for her research project. Right after that I got my master’s position at Colorado State University where I monitored nest boxes at CSU’s Mountain Campus field station. I really loved the whole field station experience, so when I saw the position at the Itasca Station, I knew it would be a perfect fit for me.

Do you have a favorite bird you’re excited to see at the station?
I love the common loon. It’s something that I really missed when I was down in Colorado. Seeing them on the lakes and hearing them makes me really excited to be in loon country again. I’ve already reached out to the DNR about research opportunities. They have a volunteer Loon Watcher Program where observers track the number of nests, and adult and juvenile loons seen on the lake. I’m adding that to our lake sampling procedure, and I am excited to track loon activity in the state park this summer.

What’s your favorite part about being at Itasca?
That’s a tough question. Honestly, I just love the station environment both in terms of the nature and the people parts of it. Everyone has been so kind and welcoming. You really get a taste of the Minnesota-nice culture. Pairing that with the physical setting of the station — with the tall pines standing like protective sentries around the lake — there is a strong sense of tranquility here. Everything comes together in a very peaceful and pleasant package