As my internship comes to a close, I have come to reflect on my experiences at the Stillwater National Wildlife Refuge, and I am both forever grateful and in awe to have the firsthand experience on some of the hardships and highlights on what it takes to run a refuge. In my short time here, I have worked with refuge staff who all have come from a diverse set of backgrounds and expertise, and I highly believe that is key on what makes the management of the Stillwater refuge successful. The management style of the Stillwater National Wildlife Refuge has confirmed my belief that both a diverse set of voices, expertise, and community engagement is key in problem solving in wildlife management and conservation.
For example, some of the staff on board have a background in business, realty, bat biology, wildlife law enforcement, science secondary education, and mechanical trades and all these areas of expertise come together for the successful management of almost 80,000 acres of wetland ecosystem in the Great Basin Desert. The Stillwater National Wildlife Refuge also works with nonprofits like the National Audubon Society, state agencies, and volunteers in order to be successful in the management and conservation efforts for these public lands. By having a diverse set of professions working in the conservation and wildlife management arena, along with community engagement it allows for the continued effort of public land protection and conservation to grow.
As I enter my final week into this internship experience, it has made me acknowledge the need of a consistent push for diversity and community engagement in the conservation field. My time at the Stillwater Refuge also showcases the need of having a diverse set of professions in order to be successful in wildlife management and conservation. Conservation deals with a variety of extremely biodiverse and complex ecosystems, so it is not a surprise that a variety of expertise and backgrounds is beneficial for the management of refuges.
I am forever grateful for my field experience here at the Stillwater National Wildlife Refuge, and I have to deeply thank the staff for their guidance and expertise throughout my internship and this experience confirmed that I am happy with the career and pathway that I have chosen.
Agency: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Program: US Fish & Wildlife Service - DFP
Location: Stillwater National Wildlife Refuge