I have learned about the importance of being eager and flexible throughout the three months that I have worked with the US Fish and Wildlife Service. I initially went into my internship with the expectation that I would be focused primarily on interacting with visitors both in our center and around the refuge as that is what was described for the position. However, the work I have done has varied significantly from that. While I have certainly done this by helping do a guided walk through a trail for Aldo Leopold day, staffing the visitor center, and talking about what a wildlife refuge is to preschoolers, I have also done things like participate in a sandhill crane survey, make maps for biologists, and am planning on participating in forest inventories as well as other things not initially described for my position. I have had the opportunity to do these things because of both my background in the environmental world and my willingness to help where I can.
Being able to share my passion about the environment with others is an important skill that I wanted, but not necessarily a career that I wanted to pursue. This internship has helped me develop the skills needed to help others become interested and involved in the natural world as well as developing skills to further me in the career path that I want to pursue. I would not have gotten these opportunities if I had not communicated my desires to my mentors and been flexible enough to do what my coworkers needed.
Recently, I got to help make signs for a self-guided bird walk through our refuge for World Migratory Bird Day. I was happy that I got to work on this project as it allowed me to work with someone from a different refuge that I would not have gotten the opportunity to otherwise and getting a better understanding of how serving the public has been changed by the pandemic. I was allowed to sit in on the planning for an event that is going to be held on May 14 for World Migration Day and an opportunity arouse for me to help with this event in a meaningful way by creating these sign as well as help run the actual event.
I was also given the opportunity to learn how to operate an all-terrain vehicle (ATV). While I am mostly using it to fill get dirt to places where badgers have dug holes on a walking trail, it has given me experience doing something that I never thought I would do. This is not something I would have done in my personal life but is something that is often required for doing work for the biology portion of the Fish and Wildlife Service. Seeing how willing the Service and my mentors are to investing in my professional life has made me try that much harder to take advantage of this amazing opportunity I was given to work with them and the Hispanic Access Foundation.
Agency: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Program: US Fish & Wildlife Service
Location: Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge (La Crosse District/Trempealeau)