Finding Community Through My Job Finding Community Through My Job
28 October 2022

Finding Community Through My Job

Hello, my name is Valery Serrano-Lopez. I am working for the Forest Service in the San Juan Forest, specifically the Columbine District. I graduated in December of 2021, and post-graduation I was unsure of my next steps. I knew I wanted to work outside and eventually work with wildlife. I was struggling finding a job in this field and failed a couple of times to get an interview. I remember asking the MANO staff for advice on how I could improve my application, and they gave me great advice to keep trying. At this point, I knew I wanted to be a part of this program, so I kept trying, and here I am!

Through my time in this program, I have met so many people with a story similar to mine. As a first-generation Latina who had no idea she could have the career of her dreams, this program gave me and MANO interns connections we could not have anywhere else. Additionally, they have allowed me to learn and grow in the Forest Service. So far in my experience in the agency, I have met some of the most amazing people, especially women, who have been inspirational. I have received support from my coworkers, which has helped me acclimate to this small town so far from my family.

I was chosen to be a Recreation Special Uses Resource Assistant. I thought this would be a simple position dealing with administration and filing. Oh man, was I wrong. This position is far more complex than what I was expecting, yet I have loved it every day since I started. I have been able to use my skills in Microsoft Excel to help organize the files, learn about national lands, meet outfitters, and so much more. Plus, my mentor has given me the chance to explore different areas of the agency, where everyone has been willing to answer all my questions. I have truly felt welcomed by everyone, and knowing I also have the support from the Hispanic Access Foundation, I have felt that I belong here.

Agency: U.S Forest Service

Program: Resource Assistant Program (RAP)

Location: San Juan National Forest

MANO Project
is an initiative of Hispanic 
Access Foundation.

P: (202) 640-4342