Michal Michiels was a former habitat restoration intern at Turtle Island Restoration Network and was an instrumental part of our habitat restoration crew. Michal recently passed away in a work-related accident while working as a field technician for the University of Wisconsin.

Turtle Island Restoration Network is saddened to learn that one of our former habitat restoration interns, Michal Michiels, recently passed away in a work-related accident on June 12, 2020. Michal graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2019 with a degree in Wildlife Management. 

Michal, center, preparing for excavation at Tocaloma site 1.

Michal was a beautiful, vibrant, energetic and hard-working young woman who was passionate about protection of nature and wildlife. She was unique among our intern crew in that she took a break from her university studies to gain real-world experience working with on-the-ground habitat restoration prior to finishing her degree. Michal worked with us during the summer and fall of 2018 and was an instrumental part of our habitat restoration crew during our Lagunitas Creek Floodplain Phase I restoration project. She helped with all aspects of the restoration project from site preparation, assisting with skilled labor, erosion control, and revegetation. It’s no exaggeration to say that Michal installed more native willow stakes than any other member of the professional restoration company. 

Installing native willow stakes with fellow interns.

Among many talents and endearing qualities, some of the most outstanding traits that we will remember about Michal are her warm-heartedness and strong love for animals. While she was an intern Michal found a stray cat, whom she named Steven, and she cared for the cat until she could transport him back to Wisconsin with her. Her love for wildlife was apparent by her enthusiasm for seeing and experiencing the endangered wildlife of Marin County. She worked on a wildlife tracking project where she set up several motion cameras, collected the photos, and tracked the comings and goings of the wildlife in the areas around our Lagunitas Creek restoration site. Michal found many species of wildlife but she was probably the most excited about seeing young foxes wandering through our construction site. 

Michal gave a test drive of an excavator, she was pretty skilled at her first attempt.

As an intern Michal made many friends and she will be missed by the Turtle Island Restoration Network community of staff, interns, and volunteers. While working with Turtle Island, Michal was one of four interns who spent time together at home and at work, shared meals together, shared stories, and spent time around the campfire. Michal was proud to say she was from Wisconsin and always was eager to share stories about her hometown, her family and friends, college experiences, strong faith, and life in her home state. 

Nursery volunteers and Michal visit Tilden Park in Berkeley, California.

We will remember Michal as someone who loved her family, friends, and her roots. We will remember her great sense of humor, easy-going nature, and dedication to loving and caring for animals. She will be sincerely missed.

Collecting native grass seeds in summer 2018.

You may read Michal’s obituary here.