The Directorate Fellowship Program (DFP) has given me several opportunities beyond the project I am working on. This program has allowed me to get experience with different brands and models of monitors as well as practice my data management skills, but one of the most importantly this program has given me connections. Building a network within the fields of your interest is incredibly important as you are trying to expand your career in conservation.
My DFP mentors have helped me make connections in the bat conservation world. My first networking opportunitywas at the Yolo bypass bat count. This was an amazing experience where I witnessed Mexican free tailed bats roosting in a human made structure and met important people in bat research and conservation. Winifred Frick, a chief scientist for Bat Conservation International, was one of these amazing people I was introduced to. I actually got to sit in while a journalist was interviewing her, so I got hear about the various bat subjects she is knowledgeable about such as wind energy and the process of getting a species listed as endangered. Later on, I had the opportunity to go to her lab at University of California Santa Cruz for a lesson from a masters student on how to confirm bat species by looking at sonograms of their calls using a software called Sonobat. These types of software are very important because they save us a lot of time by giving automatic id’s to the calls. Therefore, all we have to do is go through at least one call from each species to confirm that the sonogram does indeed match the species.
Breeane Jackson was another person I am grateful to have added to my network. She is the director of UC Merced’s Yosemite and Sequoia Field Stations. I got the opportunity to hike through the Mist trail, in Yosemite, up to a Mexican free tailed bat roost located under Liberty Cap. Here we searched the edges of the rock for placenta and pups that may have dropped from the roosts. We found incredible amounts of placenta and some dead pups as well. These samples were collected for a research project on contaminants' effects on bats. Here I was recorded speaking about the bats for the Ecology Society of America virtual field trip Big Wall Ecology in Yosemite that Breeane was working on. Since I am bilingual, I was able to talk about the bats at this roost in Spanish allowing the presentation to reach an even larger audience!
Making these connections gives you a big advantage moving forward in these field and any career you pursue. One of my supervisors works with Bat Conservation Internationational and he got me a call with two of the people that direct research that I am greatly interested in. I now have more opportunities than when I came into my DFP, so I greatly recommend you use your resources and make lasting connections too!
Agency: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Program: US Fish & Wildlife Service - DFP
Location: Sacramento Regional Office