31 July 2021

The Importance of Student Participation

Written by: Daniela Arce

This past week, many of the students in the May cohort of the Directorate Fellow Program (DFP) with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) did a round of presentations. These presentations were for projects conducted for legacy region 8 which includes California, Nevada, and a small portion of Southern Oregon. Many of these students conducted projects that were very technical and important for helping the USFWS protect threatened and endangered species. Seeing how much each student accomplished over the span of 11 weeks made me feel incredibly lucky to be a part of a cohort of smart and amazing people.


The project I am currently working on is not very technical; I’m not running statistics on data related to federally listed species or creating Geographic Information System (GIS) maps. So seeing that all the projects presented included a lot of science, it made me think about my project and how it was contributing to the mission of the USFWS. Some of the thoughts that crossed my mind were: Am I doing enough in my project in comparison to how much everyone else has accomplished? Am I smart enough to be here? When I present my project, will people be as interested in it as they have been in all these science-heavy projects? After getting past these feelings of insecurity, I thought about MANO and the DFP - these programs have brought students to the USFWS to take on these challenging projects. Not only have these students accomplished their project goals, they’ve often gone above and beyond and have completed these projects in only 11 weeks. 


The passion, creativity, and hard work these students put into their projects reminded me of how my project is contributing to the USFWS - it’s increasing collaboration with academic universities so that students like these can contribute to the recovery efforts of listed species. Recruiting more students to work on these type of projects allows them to gain experience in working with listed species and hopefully consider working for the USFWS after school and becoming experts in those species. Increasing these research opportunities for students also opens up opportunities to bring diversity to the service. If USFWS staff working with students on these projects also work as mentors, many more students would be set up for success in a USFWS job. 


I’ve wanted to work on issues of conservation for many years now and when I first became interested as an undergraduate student, I had no idea how to start. If there was more collaboration and communication with academic institutions, more undergraduate students who wanted to work in conservation but didn’t necessarily have the network to find these opportunities would have access to these projects. Students would be able to use their talent and creativity to help the USFWS make even more progress towards the most important conservation issues in the U.S., just like some of the 2021 DFPs did this summer.

Agency: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Program: US Fish & Wildlife Service - DFP

Location: Sacramento Regional Office

About Us

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

Contact Us