02 December 2022

A Web of Connections

Written by: Adriana Melendez

Over the months that I have been at Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge (DFNWR), I have gotten to learn so much on the inner workings of a refuge. It does not just take the internal team at the refuge to "keep this place up and running", but it takes the support from other local and state organizations. Without the support from others, we would not be able to accomplish all our goals. Of course, this may also be influenced by DFNWR having very limited staff, but more opportunities come by having these relationships. I have been able to see partnerships with Idaho Fish and Game, Ecological Services, and another refuge that has allowed DFNWR to expand its efforts on biology. With the support of the biologists at the Minidoka National Wildlife Refuge, I was able to assist in capturing and tagging a Clark Grebe. This ended up being a lot harder than expected as grebes are a diving bird and can travel great distances under water. Going beyond biological related partnerships, the Ecological Services office in Boise, Idaho has also supported the refuge. For one they are on our partnership committee to learn more and help us implement the Urban Wildlife Conservation Program. The national overall goal with this program is to conserve wildlife for the continuing benefit of the American people. This is done by getting to know and relate with the community and working with (not for) the community on various aspects. The community that DFNWR wants to be more involved with is the Hispanic population within the Nampa and Caldwell area. The first steps in attempting to do this includes getting to know well trusted organizations and having conversations with them about how the refuge can better support them. Ecological Services knowing our goals, were able to share events for the refuge to attend. One event they brought to our attention was about learning about the Latinx history in Idaho. It highlighted key organizations that have supported the Latinx community through education, finance, career search, and other resources. Through this the refuge staff was able to listen and show to partners that we are committed to being more inclusive. In this event we saw partners who we were already in contact with and got to network with new organizations. Connections with the refuge and overlapping goals may be difficult to determine, but I have been able to see how these partnerships can grow. Not all partnerships have a goal towards conservation, but by being able to share our resources we are opening that possibility. The refuge is demonstrating that government officials within the Fish and Wildlife Service can support the community through garden work or by providing a free space to meet. In the end, this beginning work will be able to create a more welcoming environment so that more people of color can be invited and have a seat at the table.

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