15 December 2020

End-of-Year Reflections

Lately, I’ve been reminiscing about the places I’ve had the opportunity to work at and the countries I’ve explored. At each of these places I have found unique individuals that support and motivate me to keep going despite the challenges of being far away from home. This time, it’s no different.

As a resource assistant with the Pacific Southwest Research Station (PSW), I have learned to rely on the mentorship and leadership of those that extend a helping hand when I need it the most. This holiday season, I wanted to take the time to thank all the wonderful mentors and leaders who invest their time and energy into helping young people who aspire to become the next generation of environmental professionals. Personally, I am thankful for the people here at my work site and most importantly for the guidance and support from the MANO team who constantly offer new opportunities for personal and professional growth. I am also incredibly thankful to the US Forest Service and organizations like Hispanic Access Foundation for offering these internship opportunities especially during this global pandemic. 


Honestly, I still can’t believe it will soon be three months since I began this internship with the Forest Service. While most of the work I am doing takes place on a computer it’s no doubt a great learning experience. The time in the office makes the field days even more eventful and extremely rewarding. I still get the chance to work in the common garden experimental plots and hang out with the Oaks and the birds that visit in the late afternoons as I help take biological measurements of the trees. Additionally, I am getting better at propagating plants, specifically poplars. A lot of this work takes place in a greenhouse environment where the warm and humid air reminds me of a tropical rainforest. I’ve also had the opportunity to work in other projects that involve quite a bit of collaboration between PSW scientists and external partners throughout California. One of these projects is attempting to better understand forest resilience in the face of disasters like wildfires and other climate change impacts. I am currently working with some of the data including the camera trap photos taken at various field stations in the Sierra Nevada.


greenhouse poplars 1After collecting poplar stem cuttings we plant them in cone-like containers filled with soil. We also add some rooting powder to promote fast root development. The cuttings are transferred to the greenhouse where it's nice and warm enough and are watered on a daily basis.

oakgarden1This is the oak garden experimental plot. The oaks are planted in neat rows with more than 40 trees per row and there are more than 26 rows, so that makes for a lot of trees to measure! 


One of my favorite things about being a Resource Assistant is that I get to meet other Forest Service staff across the state and even the country through virtual meetings. I’ve had the pleasure of learning so much already from my conversations with biologists in other research stations and National Forest districts. They graciously share about their journey to their current professions, their challenges and successes in the workplace, and their future career goals within the agency. These conversations provide invaluable knowledge that allow me to reflect on my own career goals in the field of conservation and natural resources and for that I am also thankful. If there is one thing 2020 is teaching me is how important it is to take some time and reflect on where you are at, where you are going, and how you got here in the first place. I am learning that a career trajectory is not always linear, and this is okay. With that said, let’s see what 2021 has in store for everyone; hopefully some exciting yet stress-free things! 


Agency: U.S Forest Service

Program: Resource Assistant Program (RAP)

Location: Anchorage Regional Office

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