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Araceli Morales-Santos, Chelsea Badura, and DeAsia Clark enjoying their tour of the Taylor refuge unit at Detroit River IWR. Araceli Morales-Santos, Chelsea Badura, and DeAsia Clark enjoying their tour of the Taylor refuge unit at Detroit River IWR. Jessica Fletcher, USFWS Wildlife Biologist
05 September 2019

Building Connections to Nature at the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge

Written by:

It’s been about three weeks now since I started interning at the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge (DRIWR) thanks to the Hispanic Access Foundation’s partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). I feel incredibly lucky to be learning from a group of people that have a strong commitment to the mission of “working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people.”

I’ve had the chance to meet a couple of these folks and learn about their journeys to the refuge. Through their stories I have come to appreciate the unique connection we all have to the outdoors. These connections are built through fishing, hunting, hiking, wildlife observation, photography, environmental education, and many other recreational opportunities. All of these fun and exciting activities are offered at the DRIWR! One of my goals as an intern is to provide interpretation and outdoor exploration opportunities for people in the Detroit area and communities nearby so that they too build that unique connection to nature.

In the last couple of weeks, I’ve been introduced to and worked with amazing groups of students and community leaders and partners. For example, I joined groups of fourth and sixth grade students for Every Kid in the Park and the Lake Erie Water Festival where they learned about migrating birds and lake sturgeon through games and engaging conversations. One program in particular that I greatly enjoyed was Career Day at Munger Elementary School. My supervisor and I visited 6th-8th classrooms to share about our career journeys to the USFWS and future career aspirations within the field of conservation and the environment. It was a great experience to share my story with the students who were just beginning to explore their interests and for them to see that achieving a profession or career is not always a one-directional path. This week has also been filled with many exciting events! The other interns and I tagged along with the Wildlife Biologist and the Deputy Refuge Manager to explore the different refuge units where they implement a water management plan that provides suitable habitat for birds, including water fowl and shorebirds. Overall, I’ve had a great time at the DRIWR and I am looking forward to the rest of my time here this summer.  

MANO Project
is an initiative of Hispanic 
Access Foundation.

P: (202) 640-4342