10 August 2021

Fellowship from Home

Written by: David Castro

Mid-August marks four months since I began my fellowship!


The world over is still dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, but in my role as a Communications Fellow with the National Park Service—Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program (NPS-RTCA), I am still able to be effective through remote work. Because returning to the Washington, DC office has not fully happened, I live at home in the Midwest with my family, spending free time with them and watching glorious sunsets with my mother from the balcony of her apartment. In an alternate reality where COVID-19 never occurred, I would probably be residing in the DC area and commuting every day to the Department of the Interior building. One of the things I miss most about office life is picking one of my assortment of ties to wear each morning. For now, I approach things a day at a time and wait for a return to normal, or as close as possible to how the world used to function pre-pandemic.

While currently in the Midwest, I am grateful to the Hispanic Access Foundation and NPS-RTCA for enabling me to remain linked to the essential projects based in the country’s capital, where I began my professional career nearly a decade ago. I stay in the loop with my colleagues located nationwide by using Microsoft Teams video conferencing three to four times a week. Seeing their faces is a welcome reminder that while we are not gathered in person, we are united in spirit and via the duties we perform. Casual conversations with coworkers at the beginning of meetings, before delving into pertinent topics, are key to building genuine relationships. It may be harder to connect as friends by looking at someone through a screen rather than walking over to their cubicle, but it is certainly possible. There may be opportunities to travel on business in the coming months to meet with staff in the field, though of course that depends on travel restrictions and how the Delta variant develops. For the time being, I will continue to enjoy the constants in my life—work, family, and watching those glorious sunsets with my mom.

Agency: National Park Service

Program: Conservation and Outdoor Recreation Program (COR)

Location: Rivers, Trails Conservation Assistance Program - DC Field Office

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