18 June 2021

Making the Best Out of a Remote Situation

Written by: Alex Silva

I am about a month into my Directorate Fellowship Program (DFP) position, and I am still just as excited as I was when I started. I am starting to understand what accomplishments the Foreign Species Department of the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) achieves. It is amazing how much these employees can accomplish with the limited staff within the department. I have been reviewing foreign species candidates and updating the corresponding forms. The academic courses covering the Endangered Species Act (ESA) that I have taken dealt with domestic species only so reviewing foreign species has given me an appreciation for the lesser-known species that could benefit from greater awareness. While the tasks and writing styles are unfamiliar, I have been guided by the Ecological Services team. Working in the Headquarters, I am exposed to a lot of the policy processes and gain insight on how documents and decisions are moved through field offices and regional offices up to Headquarters.

While this position is remote, I believe there are some benefits that I would not have been able to take advantage of if this position was in-person. I can participate in meetings that involve other departments and projects. The team members that I am working with can connect me to experts and biologists all over the country that may be in a different department.

Within my DFP placement, I am looking forward to learning more about International Affairs and how they work with different countries to help conserve foreign species. I think international communication is important when trying to achieve the overall goal of protecting and enhancing biodiversity around the globe. Conserving at-risk species not only helps in the short run, but also helps to sustain needed ecological services. My passion for conserving wildlife and working towards a more compassionate society has allowed me to fit in and work alongside likeminded individuals at the FWS.    

All the DFPs are assigned to a mentor. I think that this is important because this opportunity lets us get to know some FWS employees on a personal level. The mentors have volunteered their time and are dedicated to advising DFPs. I have only had a few meetings with my mentor, but so far, I am very thankful to have a senior biologist that has been in the FWS for a long time and is able to answer any of my questions. My mentor is very personable and enjoys engaging in our projects and general lives. Being remote for over a year now through school and now with my DFP position, I feel as though it is helpful to be able to talk about our daily lives including maintaining a healthy lifestyle, mentally and physically. I am looking forward to connecting with my mentor throughout the summer and beyond.

I have had a wonderful first month and can’t wait to see what the rest of the summer holds working as a DFP at the FWS Headquarters!   

-Image Credit: USFWS

Agency: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Program: US Fish & Wildlife Service - DFP

Location: Fish and Wildlife Headquarters, Washington Office

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