12 August 2021

Connecting in the Great Outdoors

Written by: Alisson Vera

Building connections during a global pandemic is challenging to say the least. However, I got the chance to go on a camping trip with a bunch of HAF fellows and it was amazing, even if it did end up pouring.


My position with RTCA is completely virtual at the moment and while I’ve gotten to know my coworkers very well, it’s hard to form a good connection over a screen. Being able to go on this camping trip and network and connect with others is one of the reasons I have grown to love this fellowship.

I live in New York and the camping trip was all the way in Maryland. It was a long drive and it’d only be for a day and a half. I often found myself questioning whether or not it be worth it to go through the trouble. Afterall, I only knew one or two people there and it was only in a professional virtual capacity. I was nervous to be surrounded by strangers and putting myself out there after such a long time being behind a screen. The pandemic has been a rough time to make new friends, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that I wasn’t all that rusty. I was able to meet fellows from all over the country with different backgrounds yet all with a passion for conservation and the outdoors.

While eating burgers and roasting marshmallows, we talked about family, jobs, dreams and the obstacles that sometimes stand in the way. It was refreshing to be around others who understood my struggles and to feel like a part of a community. Take advantage of opportunities like this, where you can get to know people outside of an office setting. Even if only workshops and conferences are available, you can always connect with people outside of the program.

I can’t wait for the chance to network in person again!

Agency: National Park Service

Program: Conservation and Outdoor Recreation Program (COR)

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

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