Conservation Work and Intersectionality: A Pride Conservation Work and Intersectionality: A Pride
21 July 2021

Conservation Work and Intersectionality: A Pride Post

Written by: Max Trujillo

My first month as an intern at the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service through the Directorate Fellows Program (DFP) has been a whirlwind of new experiences that I will certainly never forget. From orientation and countless introductions, to just acquiring access to the several platforms and databases I'll be utilizing throughout the summer has made adjusting to my new position as a hydrology intern for Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge quite overwhelming at times. But even though things have been challenging to start, the team I've been working with has been truly great, providing amazing opportunities like fieldwork days collecting groundwater data, interdepartmental communication with other members of Fish & Wildlife who are eager to assist me with my own career goals and interests, and just a general desire to ensure that I have the right tools to succeed throughout my time as a DFP this summer.

As I write this post, I'm thinking of all of the great skills I've already learned that'll help me advance my career in water resources management. In future posts I will surely emphasie those skills and project specifics. However, in the spirit of Pride month and diversification efforts of the MANO Project and the Hispanic Access Foundation, I feel compelled to discuss intersectionality and queerness in the field of conservation. Exploring life, studies, and career development as queer, brown person has presented me with a number of obstacles that my heteronormative counterpart likely wouldn't understand, even with some research.

As I encounter homophobia and microaggressions quite frequently in the workplace and in my personal life, I entered this internship with the expectation that my experience would be no different from previous employment. Of course, my mind was just buzzing with the same questions I always ask myself when starting a new gig. Can I be out and proud in my new work environment? Is this a safe space for me to be my authentic self? How can I be a productive member of the team in the face of adversity?

To my pleasant surprise, my experience with U.S. Fish & Wildlife has been a very welcoming one indeed. With an amazing supervisor who's been vocal about acceptance and awareness of intersectionality all the way back to my interview in March, I've never really felt as if I had much to worry about regarding my sexuality or ethnicity. Here I am today, content with some of the smaller wins that queer-identifying folx are reaping the benefits from in conservation at Fish & Wildlife. Earlier this week, the Service held an amazing virtual event called "Pride in the Wild," that provided the opportunity to a group of panelists to educate attending employees about intersectionality, queerness in the workplace, and the proper usage of pronouns. Our office subsequently dedicated time to facilitate discussion about the significance of those topics and how we might further advocate for marginalized groups in the workplace. 

All of this is to say that I truly feel comfortable in my own skin with this new opportunity and I feel empowered enough to know that I have the capacity to hold others accountable to the standards that my office has set. Though any federal department has a long way to go as far as diversification and tolerance in its labor force are concerned, my experience has emphasized the many efforts maintained by other queer folx and allies to promote a more equitable space for anyone who wishes to participate in conservation practices! Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, I can't help but feel optimistic toward my future in conservation! To those looking for a safe space for discussion, please do not hesitate to reach out to me! Happy Pride!

Agency: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Program: US Fish & Wildlife Service - DFP

Location: Southwest Regional Office

MANO Project
is an initiative of Hispanic 
Access Foundation.

P: (202) 640-4342