By: Ingrid Chavez
I have learned so much during my brief time working with Fish and Wildlife employees. I have done a range of projects from fishing, gardening on a pollinator garden, and assisting with a bird banding demonstration. But the biggest project I have been working on is called the Abbey Brook Restoration Project in Springfield, Massachusetts. My supervisor thought this would be a wonderful opportunity for me to try, and I have loved every second of it.
The project is an educational restoration program that aims to improve habitat for wildlife, reduce sedimentation and erosion, and engage youth in conservation. I jumped into this project about midway through their planning and became one of three college-level interns. It has been such a great learning experience on how to plan a large-scale event with a hard deadline. The main project involves 9 high school interns assisting us in transforming the Abbey Brook into a thriving environment with an improved wetland. This is a great educational experience for these inner-city kids who have do not usually have access to outdoor activities.
I am currently in the middle of the Abbey Brook project, and the most rewarding part has been working with the high school interns. I can relate to a lot of these kids because I grew up in a big city where access to the outdoors was difficult. Many of the kids have never been exposed to hiking in the woods, identifying plants and trees or using basic gardening tools. This is a 9-day program for the high school interns, and we are about half way through the program. In just a few days I have seen their attitude shift from just being there because they were getting payed, to truly enjoying their time outdoors. They have been asking more questions, they can now identify many trees and plant species, and they are not afraid of getting dirty anymore. I have had so much fun on this project, and the best part has been interacting with community members and making a difference on a big project. I cannot wait to see what the coming weeks have in store for me.