14 September 2023

How Birds Connect Us - My First Month is the US Fish & Wildlife Service

Written by: Luis Diaz Hernandez

The start of my internship has been very welcoming and eventful. It has been filled with opportunities like sitting in a Senate Hearing and meets and greets with dozens of people including other interns/fellows and even chiefs of different branches of the Fish & Wildlife Service. I even ended up receiving a challenge coin from the head of the National Wildlife Refuges.

One particular event I would like to talk more about is a presentation offered by the Migratory Birds Program. The title of the presentation was "Shorebird Conservation at the End of the World: Local Community-led efforts to safeguard critical habitats for Shorebirds in Patagonia" and it was given by a local Argentinian nonprofit called Asociación Ambiente Sur. The presenter, Germán Montero (Executive Director), gave us an overview of how they have been able to leverage federal funds to not only protect very important habitat for the Hooded grebe and other shorebirds like the Magellanic Plover (their chick is the cutest thing ever), but also engage local communities through a diverse array of environmental education programs. In order to make the scientific information accessible to the public they have created several mascots that the children remember and interact with through events and local plays. These efforts not only support citizen participation but instill the importance of habitat conservation at the local level. What's outstanding to me is how the local efforts can have so far-reaching effect on us in the United States because since birds know no borders, efforts in South America serve to protect not only local species, but also species that migrate all the way to our shores like the Red Knot. It is incredible how our federal agency works with NGOs to further the conservation of such wonderful species and I feel lucky to work with an agency that not only recognizes the importance of working in partnership with other countries but actively supports successful projects like the one in Patagonia.

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