I am in the final weeks of my summer position as a DFP (Directorate Fellows Program). This has been a very enjoyable experience overall, and has given me a unique insight into what it is like to work in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). Throughout this summer I have had experiences and gained skills that are applicable in both a professional career and my personal life as well. I have also been able to meet and connect with a large number of employees in the office who have shown how the Fish and Wildlife Service operates as a close and tight knit community with underlying values that align with my own.
During this fellowship, I have been able to interact with a variety of people both within and outside of the USFWS. This has shown me the extent of cross-communication that occurs between different people and agencies in order to fulfill an overall mission of conservation. For example, I was responsible for requesting annual report documents from land managers and addressing issues seen on our site visits to ensure that they were in compliance with the legal conservation banking agreements. To do this I had to ensure that I had to carefully articulate the language I used to avoid any accusatory tone that would upset the bank managers. Various tasks I performed in my fellowship have helped me to further develop my communication skills on a professional level. This has given me a greater sense of confidence for using these skills while working in a career-based setting.
One thing that has really stood out to me is the closeness of the people working here. Throughout this summer, I have heard many people express how the office staff are like a family and all share the same passion for conservation. This all sounded nice when being spoken, but I have also found that my first-hand experiences match these sentiments. I have had various people working in the office reach out to me asking if there are any experiences or office positions I want to learn more about. Many of the employees here are past DFP’s who seem eager to ensure that I get the most out of my experience. They did not need to reach out and help me at all; most aren’t working with my supervisor or affiliated with my project. I think a lot of it is due to the fact that people do not pursue a career in the USFWS for wealth or material desires, but for an inherent passion towards conserving this country's native wildlife and landscapes.
I have personally seen how invested everyone in the office seems to be in helping each other and ensuring the success of DFPs like myself. I have come to admire how the employees here are united by an overarching passion for conservation which creates a genuine closeness and friendliness that I have not seen anywhere else. In my short time here, I feel that I have been openly embraced into the community of the Fish and Wildlife Service, and regardless of where I end up, I hope to find a future career where I feel the same sense of support and belonging.
A picture of one of the site visits I went on to San Luis Del Rey Conservation Bank. Six years ago, this used to be a barren agricultural field for farming tomatoes. Now it is a thriving riparian habitat that is occupied by various native species, including least bell’s vireo which is listed under the Endangered Species Act. The bank is currently overseen by the U.S. Army Corps and California Department of Fish and Game, and soon the USFWS will be added as a signatory to ensure compliance for supporting least bell's vireo. I think this photo is a good depiction of how much can be achieved in a seemingly short period of time when multiple people and agencies work together to achieve a common goal of wildlife conservation.
Agency: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Program: US Fish & Wildlife Service - DFP
Location: Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office