This may be my last update with you all it, but it does not mean the end of the line for my work and project. This fellowship while I wish could last longer, comes to an end in July this year and I can’t help but say this has been both enlightening, informative, and an incredible experience. Just thinking that we were brought almost a year ago and knowing how much I’ve learned, done, and plan to do is both daunting and reassuring. Much of this growth both personally and professionally, have in large part been due to the mentors and managers support during this program. Moving through the first few phases of implementing the Resist-Accept-Direct (RAD) framework and understanding the local species, habitats, and conditions to understanding how changes in the climate regime will have an impact has been a large part of the work, and the informative part. Coalescing all the data and information from the biological and environmental, to the climate data, and management capacity/needs necessary to assess and address vulnerability to climate change has really stretched out the concept of being interdisciplinary. There’s still more work to be done of course, as we are in the midst of phase 3 of implementing the RAD framework for adapting to climate change at our individual stations, and phase 4 is yet to start.
As I’m writing this, I’m currently returning from Aransas National Wildlife Refuge in Texas, where not only did I meet with the other Climate Corps fellows, but also the Visitor Services, and Oil and Gas fellows as well. While at the meeting each cohort developed next steps, finalized products for their programs and projects, and finally met the other cohorts and shared experiences, that for me will last a lifetime. We even got the chance to see some Whooping Cranes in their natural habitat, which was a stunning and poignant reminder of the impact conservation efforts can have. Especially considering their population had dropped to just 21 wild individuals and now are ranging upwards of 600 individuals in the wild thanks to conservations efforts. For context, Whooping Cranes are the tallest of the Native Crane species of North America standing at around 5 ft and are protected as they are considered threatened. Aransas NWR continues to support this species through the protection of their natural habitat and resources in their wintering grounds. Through the protection of these natural resources for this species, many other species benefit from these efforts proving yet again the interdisciplinary nature of the work we are doing.
Now reflecting on the work I’ve done, the workshops and meetings I’ve been in, and the work that still needs to be done I know I’m in the right field and that there are steps that we can take to mitigate the effect of a rapidly changing climate. While we have a focus on the effects and impacts to natural resources and communities that does not mean it is mutually exclusive to our own communities, as those natural resources and communities can provide ecological services that our own communities depend on or value in one way or another. Hopefully the work I am doing will have an impact for the better or at least inform the next steps to be taken.