These past five months of my internship out at Desert National Wildlife Refuge have flown by! With countless activities it is difficult to keep track of time. Being from Illinois, coming out to Nevada has been a drastic change in terms of the landscape. Spending time out in the desert and getting to see the seasonal changes has been quite fascinating and beautiful. I never thought I would view the desert this way and having this more personal experience has been quite transformational. My main duty for this internship involves providing support for the visitor center, that has entailed covering the front desk. Visitors typically will come in and ask about certain things they would like to do or see. This can range from asking about the trail system that we have outside the visitor center, to questions related to the wildlife that can be observed in the immediate area. We also get plenty of questions related to the exhibits inside the visitor center as well as the informational kiosks along the trail. Some other visitors like to do more extreme activities such as driving or exploring the backcountry. In these cases, we like to make sure that the visitor knows that the backcountry roads are rough and not paved, we notify them that they will lose cellphone coverage in case they do not already know. We just want visitors to know that they should be prepared for the worst, as the backcountry is very remote.
Aside from the visitor center work, I do have various activities and projects that I work on. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service partners with non-profit organizations such as Get Outdoors Nevada, which has provided me with the opportunity to participate in after school programs. These programs are directed to engage the community, specifically communities that are predominantly minorities. I really enjoy this as it fits in with one of my goals, which is to have the underrepresented groups have more representation in public lands. This exposure at a young age can potentially help us see a higher representation of not only Latinos but minorities in general on public lands which will help encourage diversity and inclusion. Other activities that I have participated in include an overnight backpacking trip up to Hidden Forest, which is one of the most popular locations on the refuge as it has a cabin that has historical context. Other coworkers and I took the 5-mile hike up there and cleaned trash along the way. We knocked down fire rings and put-up signs that said no fires allowed, as that specific canyon is prone to potentially dangerous fires year-round. That trip into the backcountry has helped me tremendously, so that I am more confident answering questions visitors may have regarding the backcountry. One more immediate project that I am working on, is hosting an event for Latino Conservation week, I will post a separate blog after the event, so keep a look out. Overall, I have had a great experience being an intern here at Desert National Wildlife Refuge. I cannot be thankful enough for Hispanic Access Foundation, for allowing me to have this opportunity to work with U.S Fish and Wildlife. I feel that this experience has not only helped my career grow but has also aided in my own personal growth and has allowed me to be more independent.
Agency: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Program: US Fish & Wildlife Service
Location: Desert National Wildlife Refuge