Prior to coming into this internship with the US Fish and Wildlife service, there was not much I knew about what the agency did. All I knew was that they were an agency that cared about the environment and wished to make a difference. What I have come to know however, is just how much more the agency does.
I was very blown away and impressed by work the Fish and Wildlife agency does to support and engage local communities that have been historically excluded from the conservation conversation. From creating committees that are dedicated to furthering change within the agency to building steps towards inclusivity and mending the relationships between the USFWS and surrounding communities with programs dedicated to engagement with marginalized groups to intern trainings that give voice to current USFWS employees of color. I have never felt more seen or appreciated before by a government agency.
It has been during this first couple of weeks on the Portland- Vancouver Urban refuge team, that I was tasked with gathering research and presented a list of organizations that served marginalized groups within the area of a new wildlife refuge called Wapato Lake. Once solely known for their hunting grounds, the Urban refuge team hoped to reimagine the area of the new refuge with the local community in mind. Seeking to introduce local BIPOC to this refuge that as members of the community, belonged to them. An introduction that would greatly benefit the health and wellness of these underrepresented communities.
Seeing the importance that is put into the efforts that are being taken to include all members of the community in the conversation, is refreshing, and I have never been prouder that the Hispanic Access Foundation choose me to be a small part of the urban refuge team and the work that they are doing.
Agency: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Program: US Fish & Wildlife Service
Location: Portland-Vancouver National Wildlife Refuges