06 July 2021

A Week at the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge

Written by: Cassiel Ramirez

Wow, time is flying by in my role as a Community Outreach intern. For one of the many weeks, I traveled to the Great Swamp National Refuge and had a blast. Throughout the week I did invasive species removal, kayaked, hiked a trail, learned about a new career path, mulched a garden, found snapping turtle eggs, used the U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s app called Agents of Discovery, built a bird house, collected bees for sampling and practiced some archery. The week at the Great Swamp was jampacked with so much knowledge and fun that I will always cherish these memories.

Out of all the things I did that week at the Great Swamp, one of the highlights was the kayaking on the refuge. Kayaking was an amazing opportunity that allowed me to enjoy the outdoors while learning about new organisms. When kayaking I saw two painted turtles and I learned that painted turtles are the most widespread native turtle of North America. I will admit that kayaking was a little scary because I was scared to capsize and sink to the bottom of the 50 feet lake, but I survived!

Another highlight from my week at the Great Swamp was learning about a new career path. There were U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service workers who came from Newark Airport in New Jersey to talk about their career paths as Wildlife Inspectors. Wildlife Inspectors of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service are the Nation’s front-line defense against the illegal wildlife trade. They are import-export control officers that ensure that wildlife shipments comply with U.S. and international wildlife protection laws. This was the first time I have ever heard of these career path and I was amazed! After their presentation I am truly convinced that this is something I want to investigate as a possible future career. During the presentation I got to perform a few tasks they do on a daily basis such as: inspecting luggage, questioning passengers, comparing and contrasting alligator, snake and cow skins. I even learned how to identify the difference between real and fake crocodile skin. This was truly an eye-opening experience for my future, and I hope that one day I do get to become a Wildlife Inspector.

Last but certainly not least, the last highlight from my week at the Great Swamp National Refuge was being able to use the U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s app called Agents of Discovery. Agents of Discovery is an enhanced reality, geo-triggered app that allows participants to be outside, active, and engaged in the environment. I used it to discover one of the trails on the refuge. When using the app there were trivia questions about the trail and organisms around. For example, there was a question about Yellow Warblers, and it asked what type of sound they made. So, I had to listen to my surroundings on the trail to try to identify the bird’s song. It was an exciting and thrilling learning experience to be able to explore the refuge through an interactive game! Overall, this internship is making my summer incredibly memorable, and I cannot wait for more!

Agency: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Program: US Fish & Wildlife Service

Location: Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge

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