21 January 2021

Thinking About the Future

Written by: Abraham Elmir

It’s been exactly four months when I first started my Resource Assistant fellowship at the Southwestern Regional Office. Since then, I have experienced a lot of personal growth both in and out of the office.


While working in the office I’ve learned a lot about the state of New Mexico’s struggle in trying to preserve and distribute water throughout every city, farm, and pueblo during an intensive drought season. This winter in fact, has been drier than most due to past consecutive years of drought causing the annual amount of precipitation received in the state to decline drastically. The situation has gotten drastic to the point where a few years back, the state of New Mexico borrowed water from the State of Texas and because so, has to find a solution this year to not only give back the water owed to Texas but to also spare water for New Mexico Residents. My supervisor Joaquin Baca, is actually part of the water committee that decides how water should be distributed fairly and efficiently throughout the different groups of people living the state. For example, because agriculture is the sector that uses the most amount of water out of any other sector, it forces the committee to decide on not giving water to junior or new farmers that would need it to grow their crops. Before coming to Albuquerque to start this fellowship, I wasn’t aware that collecting and storing water was a much bigger challenge in the Western United States than in the Eastern United States. As a Water Resource Assistant, I feel like the project that I’m working on to help U.S Forest Staff in Region 3 collect Water Rights data through tablets (Instead of pen and paper), will help the State manage their water sources and types with more efficiency. All in all, I believe I have developed both a better understand and appreciation of water and its impact in different Nexuses existing in this state, this country, and even in the world. I am also happy to announce that I will be heading out on my second field visit and first test visit to experiment with the Water Rights and Uses (WRU) survey we have drafted when recording different water types at Santa Fe National Forest. I am hoping this will be one of many test visits to come in the near future, especially since the vaccine will be distributed nationwide within the next few months.

Outside of the office, I feel like I have experienced a lot of moments where I questioned my own capabilities as a young adult living on his own in an environment so unfamiliar to him. I would be lying if I claimed I didn’t miss my family these past four months. While it is a relief that I have an apartment to myself that I call my home with food and water, trying to live in Albuquerque during a global pandemic has proven to be quite lonesome. To cope with my sense of loneliness I have found activities outside of work and even invited Joaquin and my other supervisor Roy Jemison to accompany me since they have been helpful as they can be during these trying times. The picture I posted for this blog was actually taken in early December when I invited Roy to visit Petroglyph National Monument to see some petroglyphs that are hundreds of years old. It has gotten to a point though, where I missed my friends and family back in Miami, Florida which is why I am grateful for Hispanic Access Foundation allowing me to visit them during the holidays. I was also given approval by Joaquin to telework for a week over there to have an extra week to be alongside my family. It was definitely a much needed change of pace during the holidays and coming back to Albuquerque in early January, I felt a bit rejuvenated. This experience has also gotten me to question about the considerations I will prioritize when searching for a government job after this fellowship. One consideration I will prioritize for example, is the location and GS-level of my next job. Albuquerque is an interesting city, but I been here long enough to know that I don’t see a future here for me. Another consideration I have considered is that I want nothing less than a GS-09 position after finishing this fellowship. I understand that the government works in a ladder based system where you go one level at a time to for a better job but if I have learned anything these past four months, it’s to not underestimate my worth. And I believe that with hard work and the right amount of support, I can start a G-9/G-10 position this upcoming fall.

Aside from this, I have currently gotten myself invested in outside activities such as taking a basic certification open water scuba diving course and a drone law and regulations course at the local community college here in Albuquerque, to keep me occupied these upcoming months while also gaining skills I can apply in a future career. I was a bit disappointed when my supervisor Roy told me that my professional funding couldn’t be used to pay for the drone classes I am paying with my own money, but I understand it’s because the U.S Forest Service isn’t ready for their staff to apply drones for work outside of Fire dispatch. This experience of being limited in how I use my professional funding has definitely gotten me to question whether I see a future working with the Forest Service and has gotten me to consider other organizations for a job (NOAA, Fisheries, NASA, etc.), and that’s perfectly fine. I know that I am only 22 and that I still have a lot of time to find where I will genuinely fit in. I am looking forward to the next few months mainly because while I know they won’t be easy to skip through, I know that I will learn so much and have new experiences that have help me grow to be a better person. Hopefully, I will also find the right place and job to pursue afterwards during this time. The future can be so uncertain and yet that’s what makes it so promising for me and my ambitions to leave a legacy in this world. A legacy of philanthropy where I help the next generation of environmentalists be funded and inspired to change our society for the better.

Agency: U.S Forest Service

Program: Resource Assistant Program (RAP)

Location: Southwestern Regional Office

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