As I reflect on my internship at the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge (SDBNWR), the journey has been nothing short of transformative. Stepping out of my comfort zone when it comes to outreach, I’ve dived into the dynamic world of partnership building, discovering the significance of proactively reaching out and forging connections.
In the past, I relied on assigned lists to guide my work as I tried to make connections with communities. However, this internship challenged me to take the reins in creating partnerships. It’s been a learning curve, guided by my colleagues and their experience. Together, we’ve ventured into establishing new connections with different communities in San Diego.
One common sentiment shared among fellow interns is the difficulty in initiating partnerships and the challenge of securing responses from potential collaborators. It’s a reality check that highlights the tenacity required in this field. Rather than dwelling on the times I wasn’t given a response, I’ve learned to focus on working on existing partnerships and engaging with those who are interested in working together.
I’ve worked with various preexisting partnerships and also worked on establishing new relationships between the refuge and communities in San Diego. A notable experience in this journey has been working with an organization in San Diego to organize a field trip for high school interns. Even though it’s just a field trip to the refuge it did take longer than I had anticipated to organize but has provided great insights into the process of collaboration. It has made me realize and appreciate the effort invested in maintaining the current partnerships the refuge holds and showed the significance of sustainable connections.
Building partnerships is not just about adding names to a list, it’s a dynamic process that demands patience, persistence, and a genuine commitment to collaboration. As I continue to explore career options, I know that outreach is one I will continue to focus on and, I am glad to have been able to learn from people who have dedicated themselves to this type of work. The success of the refuge and its partnerships is a great example for me to learn from and be a part of.