As I finish out my fellowship with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), I am mixed with feelings of sadness and excitement for the future and new opportunities.
This 11-week fellowship was an unforgettable experience that pushed me in my technical computer coding abilities and networking skills. I learned more about the role of the FWS in conservation and the different programs that exist throughout the nation. I am also excited to continue pursuing my master’s degree and gain more skills in research, writing, and communication.
I completed my at-risk species meta-analysis and presented my results to key stakeholders within the FWS, project managers, and peers. It was a great experience to work on a complicated project that pushed me out of my comfort zone working in R programming, especially since prior to this fellowship I had limited experience with R programming. Even though at times I felt I wasn’t making progress with my coding work, it helped to have the support and guidance from my supervisor, Kat Powelson. I am grateful that I was pushed to be uncomfortable with my work because I feel in these moments when you struggle, but continue to push through something that is new to you, those are the times when you can do a lot of growing. Even though the fellowship was only 11 weeks, I feel like my computer coding and GIS skills have greatly improved compared to the beginning of the summer. The comradery and support within the FWS were refreshing and have greatly increased my interest to pursue a career with FWS after I complete my degree.
I am so thankful that the Directorate Fellows Program continued despite COVID-19 and telework challenges. I think this shows that Hispanic Access and the FWS are adapting to changing times and see the value in bringing a new perspective and people from different backgrounds into the conservation field. Moving forward with our increasing human population and stressors of climate change, it is important to invest in the next generation of leaders and to have a more diverse workforce that resembles the population of people who inhabit this wonderful place we call home. I am excited about the future when I can join conservationists and work as a team to protect our precious resources.
Agency: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Program: US Fish & Wildlife Service - DFP
Location: Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office