As my Fellowship is coming to a close I would like to say how grateful I am for having had an opportunity like this amidst a pandemic.
I was able to meet so many great people with diverse backgrounds, and work firsthand as a scientist while being in my home. This experience will always be with me and I know it will lead me to bigger and better things. Moving forward I will complete my undergrad career strong, and always network with professionals in the field and find mentorship wherever I happen to find myself.
Another thing I wanted to talk about is how intense the last few weeks of my fellowship were. The work the Fish and Wildlife Service, International Affairs do is no joke, especially when it comes to plants. Plants are the most traded specimens and they are traded alive, dried or as ingredients in products. My project focused on the plant family Orchidaceae, which required me to analyze data of over twelve thousand permit application findings for orchids. Completing this was intense due to the fact that it was very time consuming. Once completed I had a list of about six thousand orchid species that were exported from the U.S. between 1998 and 2020, and I was pretty much completely burnt out. A good chunk of these species can potentially be exported without any need for documentation. There is a need for species to be exempt from regulations because there are so many and it prevents work of higher importance from getting done, and an overwhelming amount of permit applications are received every year. Exempting species from regulations will also reduce a large amount of paperwork and time. At the end of this internship I was able to produce spreadsheets with recommendations of species that should be exempt from regulations when exported from the U.S. as artificially propagated which in short is defined as specimens grown in a nonnatural environment such as a greenhouse or nursery, and when being exported they must be packaged in an organized manner and not have any signs of damage.
I would like to thank the Hispanic Access Foundation for matching me with this fellowship and I would like to thank the Fish and Wildlife Service, International Affairs for giving me an amazing experience of what it is like to work professionally in conservation. I was given the chance to make a positive impact in international conservation and I will forever be thankful.
The photo below are orchids of the genera Dracula and their commonly reffered to as "monkey orchids". I wanted to share a picture of them because they look like little faces, and I find them so adorable!
Agency: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Program: US Fish & Wildlife Service - DFP
Location: Fish and Wildlife Headquarters, Washington Office