31 July 2021

Wrapping up an amazingly educational summer!

Written by: Emily Khazan

As I imagine is the case for most of us DFP interns, it is so hard for me to believe that the summer and the program is nearly over. The past several weeks have been extremely educational, heartwarming, and eye-opening. Of course I learned a great deal about USFWS (and learned even more about what I have yet to learn!), but also I was pleasantly surprised throughout the whole summer at the genuine kindness and good nature of all the FWS employees I interacted with.

My role this summer was with the Branch of Downlisting and Foreign Species. As mentioned in past blog posts, many people (including myself before reading the internship descriptions) do not know that the US Fish and Wildlife Service evaluates and lists endangered and threatened species that occur outside of the US. This branch and its work fit nicely into my academic and research backgrounds, however, despite working with foreign species in foreign lands for my academic career, the way in which USFWS operates was brand new to me.

As articulated well by some colleagues in the branch this summer, employees work at the interface between biology and politics/policy. I learned a great deal from fellow branch members about how many nuances and political ideas must be taken into consideration when attempting to apply what, on the surface, may appear to be basic conservation principles. Of course, as a government entity, it is logical that USFWS must take politics into consideration, however the way in which politics and biology must be reconciled each step of the way (in listing, uplisting, downlisting, or delisting a species) takes tact, knowledge, and a willingness to adjust. These are concepts that I rarely, if ever, came across in my academic trajectory, and I am grateful to have been able to learn about these issues and how to make progress from smart, dedicated USFWS biologists.

The opportunity to serve as a DFP this summer has provided me with many skills and a great deal of knowledge that I look forward to drawing on in the future. I feel more equipped to make real conservation action, to work with extremely diverse teams, and to translate science into key concepts/ideas that can be more easily incorporated into policy.

I am grateful to the MANO program and to the BDFS in USFWS for affording me this opportunity. I am thrilled that the work that I did with my co-intern this summer will move work plans within the branch forward, which directly impacts species conservation in the future. This program opened my eyes to so many practical concepts in conservation and allowed me to meet smart, kind, caring people in the USFWS who clearly care deeply for one another, the American people, and the conservation and preservation of biodiversity and natural systems.

Agency: U.S Forest Service

Program: US Fish & Wildlife Service - DFP

Location: Fish and Wildlife Headquarters, Washington Office

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