News & Events

Land Trust Staff Members Complete In-The-Field Wildlife Track and Sign Certification

Author: Lilly Schneider | 06/24/24

People looking at animal tracks on a driftwood log

CyberTracker Evaluator David Moskowitz (left) showing the group mink tracks as AmeriCorps interns Kelcie (center) and Jaise (right) look on.

Group posing holding certificates on a field

Land Trust staff members posing with the certificates they earned. Back row: Conservation Project Manager Blaise Sullivan, Director of Conservation and Strategic Partnerships Sarah Spaeth, AmeriCorps intern Greg Sachs, Community Forest Manager Ryen Helzer, AmeriCorps intern Jaise Wilson, Stewardship Coordinator Marlowe Moser. Bottom row: AmeriCorps intern Kelcie Kysar, Tracker Specialist and Evaluator David Moskowitz, Director of Stewardship and Resilience Erik Kingfisher.

In late May, several Land Trust staff members completed an intensive two-day track and sign workshop on Land Trust preserves in East Jefferson County. This two-day field experience, which is both an assessment and a training, is offered by CyberTracker, an international organization recognized as the gold standard for tracker training and certification across North America, Africa, and Europe.

The evaluation was led by David Moskowitz, a CyberTracker-certified Track and Sign Specialist, Trailing Specialist, Senior Tracker, and one of 14 CyberTracker Evaluators in North America. He was joined by two CyberTracker-certified Track and Sign Specialists whose names might be familiar to you: Sarah Spaeth, our Director of Conservation and Strategic Partnerships, and Andy Stratton, Project Technician at Panthera’s Olympic Cougar Project who, along with Olympic Cougar Project Director Dr. Mark Elbroch, was a guest speaker at the Land Trust’s 2024 virtual Conservation Breakfast!

The experience transformed the way many of us observe and understand land on the Olympic Peninsula and the creatures who use it. Deepening and expanding this knowledge is invaluable to us as an organization, because the more knowledge we have about the local lands we care for, the more effectively we can make decisions about how to manage these lands for the benefit of all who share them.

During the two-day evaluation, staff members explored track and sign including scat, prints, chewed vegetation, bones, and much more. They were drilled with 56 in-the-field questions/challenges in order to earn their certificates through CyberTracker. The intensive two-day workshop is one of the quicker ways for a novice or more experienced tracker to learn the region’s wildlife signs and tracks.

Big yellow curved tooth in a hand

Beaver tooth the group found at a kill site. Photo by Greg Sachs.

Sarah Spaeth, who organized this staff workshop, is passionate about wildlife track and sign, which she calls “the first alphabet that we had to know how to read in order to survive as humans.” In 2020, following years of dedicated study, she became one of five women and less than 50 North Americans at the time to be recognized as a certified Track and Sign Specialist by CyberTracker. She’s also passionate about sharing her vast knowledge on the subject, regularly leading or assisting with track and sign classes through Jefferson County’s CedarRoot Folk School, the Wilderness Awareness School in Duvall, Washington — and in May 2024, a special class just for the staff of Jefferson Land Trust!