Into the Real World Into the Real World
07 August 2022

Into the Real World

Hello readers! My name is Jaidyn Armijo - Sonnenberg. I grew up in a small town in Los Lunas, New Mexico. I have lived in New Mexico all of my life, but I have been lucky enough to travel to other states. Growing up I absolutely loved animals and I always told people I wanted to be a veterinarian when I got older. That all changed my sophomore year of high school. I was constantly changing my mind from sports medicine to forensics back to veterinary medicine. When I first graduated high school I knew I wanted to go to college and I had a few majors in mind but I never felt the passion I was hoping for, which led me back to where I started. When I started college I was going to school at the University of New Mexico to become a Veterinarian. Two years into my degree I decided this was not what I wanted to do. I knew I loved animals and I really enjoyed being outdoors, but more specifically in nature. I decided to change my major and transfer to New Mexico State University. I changed my major from pre-vet to wildlife sciences. I took one wildlife class and I instantly felt the passion and interest in school that I was hoping for. I knew this is what I wanted to do with my life. 

After completeing one year there I had a TA that helped me look for a wildlife job for the summer before graudation. I got the opportunity to work under a professor for one of his gratuate students as a project technician for the summer. We were working in and around the Valles Caldera National Monument in Jemez, New Mexico. We were looking at how fires in the region are influencing the extent to which ungulates and small carnivores are likely to become infected by parasites. We hiked anywhere from 8 - 15 miles a day through burned and unburned transects, collecting samples. After the summer the same professor offered me to be the lead technician for a new project he was starting. This project was focused on examining the impacts of botflies on wild rabbit population across southern New Mexico. This project became the first published paper I was a part of. I graduated from New Mexico State Univeristy in December of 2021 with my bachelors of science in Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Ecology. 

After graduation I was so scared I was not going to have a job lined up and I was going to be going back to my jobs in retail. I applied for every position that I could find in my field, hoping for something. I got an email from HAF asking for an interview to work for USFWS at Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge. Going through my interview I was so nervous and I did not feel very confident I would get the job after the interview. When I heard I got the job I was so excited. This opportunity was different than my past wildlife jobs I have had because I would be working more on the public side of wildlife where as before I was on the biology side of things. I started in February and am now two months into my job and I have already had an amazing time working with the visitor service team and the opportunites I have been presented with. I am excited for the future and I cant wait to share more with you all in my next posts! See you next time. 

Agency: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Program: US Fish & Wildlife Service

Location: Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge

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