Today’s post comes from Sarah Carpe, one of our Masonville Cove Baltimore Urban Conservation & Education Interns, in conjunction with the National Aquarium in Baltimore, MD.
My name is Sarah, and I’m an Urban Conservation and Education Intern at Masonville Cove. From June 13th – 24th, I spent time at Patuxent Research Refuge with three other interns and my field supervisor, Molly Finch. In our time on the refuge we shadowed several positions within the conservation field.
The preservation of earth’s natural state includes a few positions that naturally come to mind. Wildlife biologist, conservationist, and environmental scientist are some common careers in conservation.
While these positions are essential, and we observed many of them at the refuge, there are some less well known jobs that are of equal importance to restoring our environment.
For a majority of our time at Patuxent Research Refuge, we worked with the facilities department. I learned that the work they do has a direct impact on the refuge. Our firsthand experience showed us the direct benefits of this job and its importance to conservation.
Facilities staff do a variety of jobs, many of which require physical labor. In the short time we spent working with them, we removed illegally dumped tires, fallen tree limbs, and massive piles of scrap aluminum, wood, and fiberglass roofing.
I feel as though shining a light on what the Patuxent facilities staff do is of massive importance because it had the most immediate impact of any position that I observed at Patuxent. If you didn’t know what was there a week before we cleaned the dump sites, you never had any clue.
Working for facilities isn’t entirely physical either; we viewed tons of organisms in our time outside. A short list includes foxes, wild turkeys, turtles (both box turtles and red eared sliders), frogs, toads, mice, groundhogs, dragonflies, fish, and several others.
The wildlife we saw while spending time with this department was so amazing because none of it was planned. Unlike a wildlife biologist where you have a predetermined animal that is is the focus of your survey (perhaps a box turtle), we saw the habitat as a whole, with all of its organisms in our focus. Facilities work gave me an eye for what Patuxent really looks like in terms of wildlife as well as its mission as part of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Being in the presence of so much wildlife really connected me to the surrounding habitat as well as the other conservation positions that aren’t the typical careers. While every environmental career has an influence, facilities staff play an invaluable role in conservation that has an impact you can see instantaneously.