01 September 2022

An Eventful Summer!

Written by: Clara Hernandez

Last Spring I was awarded the opportunity to intern at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Refuge with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service alongside the Chesapeake Bay Field Office and Masonville Cove partners.

The objective of the partnership between the three institutions I referenced above is to foster a conservation constituency by connecting people who live in urban areas with the region’s land, water, and wildlife through nature-based recreational and educational opportunities. I was contracted through Hispanic Access Foundation's My Access to Network Opportunities (MANO) Project to assist the Patuxent Wildlife Research Refuge achieve these goals. My work this summer was focused on three main areas: partnership development, outreach, and environmental education/interpretation. I really enjoyed making public health connections within an environmental/conservation-based workspace. I learned to make sense of the varying viewpoints of the environment; a habitat for humans and animals and also a regime that affects health; exacerbates health hazards through flooding, heat waves, and widening geographic zones for disease vectors (which is the foundation taught in the relative courses I've taken towards my MS Degree at CUNY School of Public Health). 

I worked with Latino community partners, leaders in underserved communities of Laurel, Bowie, and South Baltimore .. to understand their needs and plan ways to effectively connect minority communities with nature in an urban environment. Through my work with conservation leaders, I was able to assist build community connections, enhance access to nature, nurture a sense of place through storytelling, and apply innovative technology through science to expand opportunities for target communities to connect with nature and each other in ways that are safe, comfortable, and welcoming. As part of Hispanic Access Foundation's Latino Conservation Week initiatives, I hosted an event at Patuxent on July 16th, conducive of inclusivity geared towards promoting initiatives to provide surrounding underserved populations with nearby outdoor recreation opportunities and to demonstrate the community's commitment to conservation.

While my long-term goal is to attend The University of Baltimore’s Law School, this Summer I learned about other great avenues that I’m curious to explore such as Environmental Psychology, Environmental Law, and the field of Human Dimensions.

Thank you to all the dedicated staff that made all these great experiences possible.

Stay tuned for my blog about what's next!

Agency: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Program: Conservation and Outdoor Recreation Program (COR)

Location: Patuxent NWR

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