The ongoing pandemic rocked the world to its very core. Forcing us into uncharted territories, working and studying from home, halting plans, causing unprecedented job loss, and resulting in hundreds of thousands of deaths. While the U.S. dealt with the impacts of the pandemic, protests for the murder of George Floyd erupted across the country. Emotions ran high. It quickly became apparent that this year’s fellowship would be unlike any before it, if it were to happen at all. I was lucky enough to be offered a teleworking position on a new project within the division of Fish and Aquatic Conservation, which I happily accepted.
Despite not having much exposure to fisheries and fish science, I was confident in my ability to learn and adapt to this new reality, after all, we’re all doing our best. Fish hatcheries provide a start to life for fish and shellfish, these facilities spawn and care for fish until they’re mature enough to be released back into the wild, or transferred to other facilities. There are 70 national fish hatcheries across the country, each specializing in different local species. In the advent of industrialized fishing and human infrastructure, like dams, many species have become endangered and their populations threatened, hatcheries are able to help restore and conserve these great animals. Aside from being ecologically important, fish are valued for their recreational aspect, commercial fishing, and used by indigenous communities. Fish and fish hatcheries are incredibly important and a large part of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, understandably.
While being immersed in all things fisheries in my makeshift home office (my room), I found solace in the numerous virtual networking opportunities provided by the Hispanic Access Foundation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service. From orientations, Cafecitos, happy hours, career advising, and weekly DFP and regional meetings, I never imagined being able to feel so connected to people around the country, while remaining physically isolated. HAF and the U.S. FWS has been exemplary in adapting and learning, much like the individuals involved in their fellowship programs. We continue to adjust and discover new ways to navigate our new world and maintain connected. I’m thrilled to see what the next two months have in store.
Agency: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Program: US Fish & Wildlife Service - DFP
Location: Sacramento Regional Office