05 August 2021

Unforgettable Moments: Summer '21 in Photos

Written by: Anna Lad

As my eleven-week fellowship comes to an end, it’s hard to imagine that barely three months ago I sat at this computer writing my first emails with my new Fish and Wildlife Service email address. Today, I wrote my last. It doesn’t feel real. It doesn’t feel like I’ll be going back to school in four short weeks. But it is. My calendar doesn’t lie. Neither do my packing lists, my calls home to family or friends, or the textbook receipts for my classes this fall.

         I can’t make this amazing summer as a Directorate Fellows Program intern last any longer. But I can recount the moments that became memories and the challenges that became life lessons. The photos I took are little reminders, and I want to share them with you.


Male Smith's Blue Butterfly in Grass


         Halfway through June, my supervisor Deb and I drove up the Big Sur coast on our way to Monterey for a three-day work trip. We visited a plethora of Smith’s blue butterfly habitat, met many stakeholders, and learned so much about the habitat and status of the species. I took this butterfly photo next to the Big Creek bridge, right off Highway 1. Deb and I parked on the side of the road and ventured down an old Caltrans access path. Smith’s blue, and its buckwheat host plants were thriving! It was amazing to see the plants and butterflies doing well even in a site with so much disturbance.

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         At the Fort Ord Dunes State Park, we met with many stakeholders interested in preserving Smith’s Blue Butterfly for generations to come. I wasn’t the only one to bring a camera! These were many of the individuals I worked with this summer to get data on butterfly and buckwheat surveys. Getting out there and communicating with one another is a crucial takeaway from my summer with the Ventura office. We must work together in order to make progress in conservation.

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Some of the best quality buckwheat I saw this summer is located at the Santa Lucia Preserve. Nestled in the Carmel Valley, the preserve is part of the Santa Lucia Conservancy, which oversees the property and conservation of the area. The Seacliff buckwheat here teemed with butterflies! I followed Christy Wyckoff, the preserve conservation manager, through a presence/absence survey, and saw many butterflies. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience to see this pristine habitat.

         In May, I joined a Teams call for the first time with other DFP interns. We were green, nervous, and excited. Our mentors had big shoes for us to fill. Today, I logged off for the last time. Each email I sent, teams call I made, and hour spent mapping or programming was valuable.

My half-virtual, half-in-person internship had its ups and downs, but overall, it’s been one of the best summers of my life. I’ll never forget the long days – whether it was programming my Smith’s Blue Butterfly database, or out in the field from morning to evening with Ally and Alicia. I can’t wait to graduate and apply to work for the US Fish and Wildlife Service. It’s a dream come true!

Agency: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Program: US Fish & Wildlife Service - DFP

Location: Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office

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