I cannot believe how quickly this summer has flown by. I think next week will be even more surreal because I will have my last ever check in with my mentors before the end of my internship.
Last week was the Diversity in Conservation: Career and Leadership workshop. In all honesty, I wasn’t sure what to expect since the conference was completely virtual this year due to the pandemic. I don’t think anyone was sure what to expect, but overall I had an amazing and incredible eye-opening experience.
The conference was four days long, it ran from August 3rd-6th. I was also up very early because the conference typically started around 9 or 10 am Eastern Standard Time, and I am located in Long Beach, California. I was getting up around 5:30/6am PST each day, it was a bit of a challenge for the first couple days but my body adjusted.
I really enjoyed viewing all the other LHIP intern project presentations. It was incredibly inspiring to see all the hard work the interns put into their projects. It was also very impressive. The conference opened up my eyes to some amazing speakers and presenters, some of my favorites were Angelou Ezeilo, Noel Lopez, and Carolyn Finney. Another one of my favorite sessions was the poetry session with speaker and poet Franklin Cruz. The poetry session was one of the most moving and thought-provoking sessions in my opinion. Franklin touched upon the importance of mental health, which I found really helpful and relatable. I was also moved by all the other interns' poetry, they all have beautiful thoughts and ideas.
Overall, I had an incredible four days because of this conference. Since this program is nationwide, and virtual now, I sometimes forget that there are other interns having similar challenges and experiences. This conference allowed me to better connect with my cohort and made me feel part of a large community. I am extremely grateful to have been able to connect with people my age who have some same passions and interests that I have. I have struggled with imposter syndrome all my life and have definitely had moments during this internship where I felt imposter syndrome as well. After talking with my cohort, it was a relief to know that I was not alone. Many of us felt the same or had similar experiences, and we were able to lift each other up and turn down that little voice in our heads. It is reassuring to know that I am not alone in my struggles. Overall, the conference made me feel much better connected to all the resources I have and all of my fellow interns as well. We now follow each other on social media and have a group chat, hopefully when it is safe to do, so we can all meet up in person. I have no doubt I will make some great friends due to this program.
Agency: National Park Service
Program: Latino Heritage Internship Program (LHIP)
Location: Sequoia National Forest