30 July 2021

Field Friends Forever

Written by: Courtney Randik

One of the most rewarding aspects of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Directorate Fellowship Program (DFP), aside from the exposure to professional USFWS careers and employees, is the opportunity to connect with our fellow cohorts who are all working on vastly different projects across the country. My fellow Western Pond Turtle DFP and I have been conducting river surveys along the Klamath River in Northern California and have had the honor of working closely with another cohort of three DFP’s who have been assigned the task of conducting bumblebee surveys in Southern Oregon. Our two different cohorts have grown close as fellow interns and friends beyond our projects in our free time after work and on weekends. Eventually our friendship worked its way into the professional setting when we were granted the opportunity to work together on each of our two different projects as one DFP cohort.


July 12th to July 16th was dedicated to the Bumblebee Blitz where professionals and volunteers work together to conduct a mass survey of the bumblebee community in the mountain meadows of Southern Oregon in search for two rare species of bumblebee – the Western Bumblebee and Franklin’s Bumblebee. Western Bumblebees are a species of special conservation concern in the region of Southern Oregon and few individuals are found annually in the meadows of Mount Ashland and Grizzly Peaks. Franklin’s Bumblebees have not been seen in over 14 years, begging the question of whether or not the species is extinct. Since few surveys for bumblebees are conducted in Southern Oregon, Bumblebee Blitz acts as a dedicated week to search for Franklin’s and Western Bumblebees. On the final day of the blitz, I had found the first of three Western Bumblebees found at Grizzly Peaks and had the honor of collecting the DNA sample from the live specimen and releasing the bee with the help of my fellow DFP’s. The week was both a success in the sense of collecting invaluable data and connecting with our fellow DFP’s and distinguished professionals across various government and conservation agencies.


Western Bumblebee collected at Grizzly Peaks during the Bumblebee Blitz.


Our friendship in the field continued the final field day of my Western Pond Turtle survey project when the bumblebee cohorts joined us on the Klamath River through class II and class III rapids near Tree of Heaven River Access. Our surveys take us on an average of 5 river miles through forested mountain valleys on inflatable kayaks, but for this special occasion we borrowed a whitewater raft to tackle the various classes of rapids along this reach. After a day of finding many turtles, conquering countless rapids, and sharing even more laughs, our time working in the field together during our time as DFP’s had concluded. The collaborative river day was the perfect end to an amazing summer of learning a plethora of new knowledge and skills, connecting with outstanding people, and making everlasting memories. One day perhaps we will all meet again working out in the field, but the one thing that is certain is our friendship will always persist on despite our different paths.


The Western Pond Turtle and the Bumblebee cohorts rafting on the Klamath River conducting turtle surveys.

Agency: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Program: US Fish & Wildlife Service - DFP

Location: Yreka Fish and Wildlife Office

About Us

Hispanic Access Foundation connects Latinos and others with partners and opportunities to improve lives and create an equitable society.

Contact Us