Excited to learn new things Excited to learn new things
30 September 2021

Excited to learn new things

Written by: Samaya Rubio

My first two weeks working for the Fish and Wildlife Service at the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum have been thrilling! In my first week on the job, I learned a lot about urban refuges and what an incredibly important resource they are for connecting people to nature. The staff at the refuge focus a lot on outreach to the community nearby and helping those people engage with the natural world around them. I knew that the visitorship from people in the community right around the refuge was not super high, but I was shocked when I went to a community meeting literally down the street from the refuge and so many people I met had never been to the refuge, and if they had they hadn’t been in a long time. It was an incredible opportunity to tell people about the beautiful place I get to work at every day and explain to them that the land had been set aside for people just like them to explore. 

In the day to day experience of working at the refuge I get to talk about the ways to best engage the community, from summer camp planning to strategic partnerships to making the framework for the events I will be putting on for Latino Conservation Week. I also get the chance to connect with my coworkers and hear about how they ended up in the positions they are in and hear their strategies for success as a staff member for the refuge. I was so intrigued to hear where people had worked before, whether for the service or other places and how it differed from the culture and experience of working at John Heinz. Across the board you’ll hear people saying that this team is different from many others people have worked with at other locations because of the focus on connecting to the community and connecting people to nature in addition to preserving the natural space we all love. 

That difference was clear when we went on a staff field trip at another wildlife refuge in New Jersey called Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge. This refuge had a different set of priorities and did a lot less work engaging with the community they neighbor. It was super interesting to hear that they had started to work with local schools and groups nearby, but it was not in their list of top priorities because of the natural differences in the refuges (like how Forsythe is massive compared to John Heinz and how they work with endangered species preservation), but it is exciting to see their plans for how to ramp up their engagement. 

I look forward to spending more time getting to know the ways my refuge does community engagement and what strategies can be applied to other refuges around the country to get more people to see the beautiful nature around them! 

Agency: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Program: US Fish & Wildlife Service

Location: John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum

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