Tag Archives: Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge

Wednesday Wisdom – Margaret Morse Nice

For this week’s Wednesday Wisdom we turn to ornithologist Margaret Morse Nice. She was one of only two female graduate students at Clark University in Worcester, MA, when she attended in 1915. Nice made an extensive study of the life history of the song sparrow and was author of Studies in the Life History of the Song Sparrow in 1937.

Lotus flower at Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge

Lotus flower at Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge

My life after the internship: Gabriel Harper

This year, we checked in with some of our past interns to find out what came next after their internship ended. Did they stay with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or land another sweet job? We hope they put those skills to good use! Look out for these stories to find out about their life after the internship. Today, meet Gabriel Harper, a superstar federal wildlife officer. Below, find out where he started with us and how he got where he is now.

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Gabriel Harper began his career with the Service through the Conservation Internship Program, now the Career Discovery Internship Program, a partnership between the Service and The Student Conservation Association to help prepare the next generation of wildlife professionals and managers.

The Student Conservation Association allowed for my first true glimpse into the world of conservation. I began my internship with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in May 2009, at Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge in Virginia Beach. With minimal prior knowledge of the agency, I approached this venture with an open mind and eager attitude. It was the summer of many “firsts” for me! Back Bay afforded me my first time camping, fishing, kayaking, and birding, while also having the duties of giving interpretive speeches and leading guided tours throughout the refuge.

From what was initially intended to be a 12-week internship, with the support from my supervisors, I was converted to a federal career intern position as a park ranger with the Service within a year of my arrival. Shortly thereafter, I transitioned to permanent employee status, where I led guided tours for schools and other large groups, providing information on wildlife and habitat management. Some of my other job duties included assisting the biology staff members with the threatened sea turtle protection program, wildlife surveys, and invasive species control. I developed a passion for outreach, and it led me to look for new innovative ways to bring minorities to experience all the opportunities the great outdoors have to offer.

NCTC broadcast

Gabriel during a broadcast at the National Conservation Training Center about illegal wildlife trade.

In 2011, my passion for the environment led me to pursue a career in law enforcement. After close to a year in training, I was sworn in as a federal wildlife officer with the Service. This unique career field equipped me with the tools and skills necessary to confront illegal hunting, trapping, and harvesting of wildlife and plants. I found that I wasn’t too far from my foundation. A typical day could consist of me teaching youth how to fish, conduct a deer poaching investigation, meet with state conservation officers to discuss an upcoming deer decoy operation, stop and investigate a DUI (driving under the influence) on a refuge, or even assist in natural disaster relief efforts anywhere in the US.

Now in my fourth year with the Service, I work at Patuxent Research Refuge in Laurel, Maryland. I continue to manifest fervent hunger that propelled me in the past days when I was seeking employment. There is still so much I feel needs to be done to bring awareness about our mission. On an individual level, I have made myself available to different programs throughout the agency such as the Service Honor Guard, the special operations response team, and the diversity change agents. My commitment to protect our natural resources is rejuvenated every time I step foot on my refuge.

Full HG Team John TAYLOR funeral

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Honor Guard.

My life after the internship: Erica Locher

This year, we checked in with some of our past interns to find out what came next after their internship ended. Did they stay with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or land another sweet job? We hope they put those skills to good use! Look out for these stories to find out about their life after the internship.

Today, meet Erica Locher. We are so proud of Erica and lucky to work with her. She’ll be modest about it, but this year, she was recently named the Northeast Region’s Visitor Services Professional of the Year because of her outstanding efforts to expand environmental education programming, volunteerism, youth programs, and partnerships at Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Find out more about Erica, where she started with us and where she is now.

I began my experience with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service with a simple phone call to my local refuge, Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge during my junior year of college. I knew nothing about the Service but I knew I wanted to work in wildlife and natural resource conservation after college. I was fortunate that an internship was available with the refuge biologists. A summer internship after junior year led to a temporary position after graduation before joining the Peace Corps.

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Erica Locher

During my Peace Corps service in Peru, I worked with my community’s small elementary school and with families to grow organic family gardens and implement a water pump and drip irrigation system to the school’s small orchard. It was an awesome experience!

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This is the world map we painted on the side of the school.

When I returned to the states I qualified for a job back at Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge in the visitor services program. As a park ranger, I provide environmental education and interpretation opportunities for the visiting public, local schools and surrounding community groups.

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That’s me leading an environmental education program on the refuge beach.