“Time sure does fly,” as the old saying goes. I am coming up on my first 30 days as a Directorate Fellow with the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). When starting a new job, internship, etc., it is always difficult to know exactly what to expect going into it. After being selected for an interview for the fellowship, undergoing the interview process, and playing the waiting game, I was overjoyed when I was offered the fellowship. I have been longing to work with the USFWS to get a taste for real-world wildlife biology applications.
Having expectations for a program like this is challenging because those expectations will undoubtedly change. At first glance, I thought it would be a lot of meetings, working non-stop every day, and pressure for my project to be done right the first try. Luckily that is not at all what it is. In the first week, we had orientation with multiple USFWS staff, which opened my eyes to a whole new workplace culture (in a good way!). My supervisor is amazing to work with and helpful every step of the way. They are understanding of the fact that we are expected to do good work, but at the same time, we are here to learn.
After earning my Bachelor of Science in Wildlife Biology in 2014 and finishing up my Master of Science in Biology seven years later, it is nice knowing there are opportunities for students available to help you land a good job after school. Gaining experience for the “good” jobs is difficult. Even after working in my field for four years between education programs, I still find it tough to find jobs I qualify for. The best part of the fellowship is the chance to work for the USFWS in the future.
With my majors being wildlife focused, I got a whole new perspective and appreciation for plants with my project! My project reviews the biology and life history of a plant that is currently being petitioned for listing under the Endangered Species Act of 1973. It is in peril because of its variable population sizes year to year, its endemic nature, and a habitat that is inclusive to invasive plant species. I have never been a “plant person,” but honestly, I have been enjoying this research and learning more about something I did not know. There is little information on this plant, which made me think outside of the box to hunt for answers. After reviewing literature and talking with partners, this plant is interesting come to find out!
Overall, I have been enjoying my time as a USFWS Directorate Fellow. That expectation did not change! This fellowship has given me an opportunity to learn more about plants, the USFWS, and myself.