Rafid Shidqi

rafid on a boatRafid, originally from Indonesia is a graduate student at UC Santa Cruz who focuses on the endangered thresher shark. He first got into the naturalist world by volunteering in a program to protect manta rays. He works to better understand thresher shark ecology and decrease use of fishery practices that may be harmful for the shark. Rafid views a naturalist as someone that contributes to protecting the environment. One of Rafid’s most memorable experiences in the field was some of his recent work where he has been working with the local community on the Thresher shark very closely and the community started to realize its importance. Subsequently they started a local protection program and made sure people who previously relied on the sharks for their livelihoods would be supported by government subsidies from ecotourism in the area. It was especially exciting because he did not really expect such a dramatic community shift and programming in a short time, but the local government has been showing huge support for the project!

a manta ray swimming among coralRafid thinks internship programs in EEB provide a great opportunity for students to be involved in research opportunities. For example they have El CAMINO, that encourages people from underrepresented groups to get involved in natural resource management by pairing students with research mentors while providing the undergraduate a stipend. As noted by other international students, natural history is often not viewed as a career path for local communities, and also serves as a barrier to entry.