May Travels as a Wild and Scenic River Fellow May Travels as a Wild and Scenic River Fellow
23 July 2024

May Travels as a Wild and Scenic River Fellow

May was a very busy month! I got the opportunity to travel to Michigan for 2 events with my awesome supervisor. We first went to River Rally, which is a huge annual conference that gathers any and everybody who works on rivers. There were tons of people from nonprofits, state governments, watershed associations, academia, and more! It was interesting hearing all these perspectives around one thing we all care about: water access. It was oddly refreshing to be in such a large group (~500 people!) and know that you all have the same passions and values when it comes to the outdoors. River Rally had some amazing speakers and sessions, but also some amazing food! River Network really took care of us and planned tons of super fun events that always kept the energy up and the conversation going. I am super grateful to Hispanic Access with providing me the means to attend and I highly, highly recommend anyone who loves rivers to attend in the future.

Immediately after River Rally, my supervisor and I drove from Grand Rapids to the Huron-Manistee National Forest to attend the Interagency Wild and Scenic River Coordinating Council face-to-face meeting. The IWSRCC is a group with about 20 representatives from the National Park Service, Forest Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, and Bureau of Land Management who do something with WSRs within their respective agencies. To say this is a knowledgeable group is an understatement. Luckily, many of the NPS representatives are people who I meet with on a regular basis so having that initial familiarity was very comforting. The Council has monthly online meetings, so I had virtually met the other interagency members before, but this was my first time meeting many of them in person! Having only had virtual interactions before, I was going into this trip thinking they were going to be all business. I was completely wrong. Before the actual Council meetings started, we had a couple group meals and got to kayak down the Au Sable Wild and Scenic River! We all got drenched in the rain during our paddle but managed to keep laughing and joking the whole time. It was so great to interact with Council members in an out-of-office setting and realize that they are just regular people. Going into the following Council meetings, I had a lot more confidence since I had been able to build up my relationships with all the members and knew I could talk to or ask them about basically anything! Networking has never been my strong suit, but my advice coming out of this trip is that it doesn’t have to be high stakes. Building a relationship with someone can start with something as informal as bonding about your pets or realizing you watch the same TV show. Overall, this trip has definitely been a highlight of my fellowship, and I now look forward to every IWSRCC meeting in my calendar.

MANO Project
is an initiative of Hispanic 
Access Foundation.

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