A Tale of Two Conferences A Tale of Two Conferences
23 May 2024

A Tale of Two Conferences

In the past few months of my fellowship, I’ve had the opportunity to attend two conferences – the National Military Fish and Wildlife Association (NMFWA) annual meeting and the Northeast Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (NEAFWA) conference. While the biggest highlight at NMFWA was undoubtedly the awards dinner that featured a botanical garden (with butterflies!), I benefitted the most professionally from meeting new people and absorbing so much information. I enjoyed talking with natural resource managers of the installations whose climate I’ve been researching and attending sessions at NMFWA on topics ranging from pollinator conservation to wildlife values to artificial light at night. 

NEAFWA, hosted in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, was another valuable experience. While there, I interacted with many USFWS staff, wildlife biologists, and other students/young professionals. Notably, I learned about a group working to incorporate climate change into State Wildlife Action Plans, work which aligns closely with my own and offers helpful resources. I also attended sessions on at-risk species conservation, coastal and landscape-scale impacts of climate change, and shorebird conservation efforts. My trip concluded with a visit alongside USFWS staff to Camp Edwards, where we toured and discussed their natural resource management strategies, such as prescribed fire to maintain ideal habitat for state-listed species (see cover photo) and protected areas for the frosted elfin. 

I’m grateful to have been able to attend and learn from these two conferences; I grew not only professionally but also personally. Traveling to both Grand Rapids and Hyannis to attend multi-day meetings where I was often one of the youngest people in the room was intimidating, and I struggled with imposter syndrome at first. I wondered what value I was bringing to these conferences with so many experts and professionals with storied careers. 

But I’ve continually reminded myself that everyone starts somewhere. All of the speakers I heard from and people I admired were once in their early 20s and still figuring out their career paths. Many installation managers and natural resource professionals I spoke with were incredibly kind, offering me guidance and answering all of my questions. Opportunities like these two conferences expose me to new topics and career options, and inspire me to continue in climate change research and mitigation work. And of course, finally meeting the amazing other fellows I work with online was a great experience, and I look forward to reconvening in a few months, hopefully at the Fish and Wildlife Service headquarters! 

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