09 July 2021

Pushing Through Growing Pains During a Pandemic

Written by: Damayanti Valle

I’m halfway through my fellowship, and I just started to feel completely comfortable with my role and work. It took me a little longer than others, I’m sure, but I want to do the best job I can. During our orientation, a couple of fellows mentioned feeling like they were experiencing imposter syndrome, and I have to say that I felt the same way and still do to a certain extent!

Passionate and highly knowledgeable people surround me and, while I feel very inspired, I also find myself doubting my achievements. This doubt comes from wanting to perform the best I can but dealing with some setbacks, like the many technical difficulties I’ve encountered. I’ve cultivated great care and admiration for the tiny butterfly subspecies, Apodemia mormo, so I have been doing my best to support the efforts to keep them from extinction.

Deep down, though, I know that I’m doing valuable work! My project supervisor and Directorate Fellows Program mentor help been incredibly supportive and encouraging. For that matter, everyone who is involved in this fellowship has gone above and beyond to make this fellow feel accepted, championed, and propelled to reach her dreams and goals. I’ve been surrounded by friendly fellow peers and have seen the work accomplished to make the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service an inclusive and diverse place (like joining an LGTBQ+ allyship talk).

It’s not easy working remotely but knowing that multiple people are rooting for us and that our work is helping conservation efforts is a fantastic feeling! After all, what a remarkable experience it has been to say that I’m lending my skills to further conservation efforts for an endangered species with an agency that is striving for diversity and inclusion. I’m looking forward to continuing down this path because I know that nature, and all those living within her, hold an indescribable value. John Muir hit the nail on the head when he said that, “The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.”

Agency: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Program: US Fish & Wildlife Service - DFP

Location: San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge Complex

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