Over the first three weeks of my internship was an adjustment. Coming into an area different from my hometown and meeting different people than me was a shock. Given an opportunity like this is something that will change my life, but now after working I realized a different reason why this program is worth it. I came as a community outreach intern for the Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge. My project is to figure out a way we as the refuge can engage with the Latino community. We are in an area where the Latino community is very low in population and does not have a voice. I would love to be that voice for them and create that bridge between the Latino community and the refuge.
This last week I went to go help with a community pollinator garden with the Youth and Family Center of McHenry County. It was a group of young Latino kids that are from low-income families. While preparing the garden and working with other interns from other organizations and their supervisors I realized I was the only Latino there. It felt great to be different than everyone, but at the same time, it makes you mad, that others like you are not able to be with you.
Finally, when the kids arrived, we were planting and laughing. I was talking to the parent explaining everything that was going on. I was proud to be doing what I was doing. I was helping other kids like me, who look like me, who have similar struggles, who are different. When we were done, we heard the stories of many of the kids and it makes you want to cry. The events that they have lived through and the opportunities that they been given are not what a kid should have. How can we expect them to do something when they were never given the opportunity to do it. We have more workdays with the kids, and I am super excited to be able to help again. I am proud to say that I can use my resources to help them.
Agency: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Program: US Fish & Wildlife Service
Location: Hackmatack NWR