Tag Archives: The Next Generation of Conservationists

Expanded Horizons Through Conservation

Crystal Leckie, Hispanic Access Foundation intern, grows to love her position and new experiences working for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service!

Accepting a summer internship through Hispanic Access Foundation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was the best decision I could have made. Although it has only been roughly four weeks since starting, I feel as if I have gained a life’s worth of invaluable knowledge and skills.

The first few days into the internship I was a bit overwhelmed. Trying to remember the names of those I was introduced to. Learning about some of the projects I would be involved in. After settling in, that feeling was quickly replaced with a sense or appreciation and admiration. Not only did everyone meet me with open arms, but they were also so passionate about what they were working on. Just experiencing this made me think about the Service’s mission to work with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people.

Working for a greater good collectively and in solidarity is perhaps one of the most important aspects of conservation I have learned—it’s how progress is made. These partnerships between the Service and numerous organizations is what has allowed more individuals to be reached and educated, and it has allowed more programs and initiatives to be put in place. Personally, it has allowed me to broaden my horizons and grow mentally. It’s crazy how activities such as canoe training, working with elm tree propagation and working with endangered Puritan beetles can be considered work. With roughly two months left I look forward to learning more and engaging in amazing opportunities that will help further my educational and personal goals.

Read more inspirational blog posts from Hispanic Access Foundation interns as they share their experiences this summer!

Spreading My Wings

Guest blogger and Hispanic Access Foundation intern, Maribel Juarez is soaring to new heights as an environmental steward and passionate conservationists. Follow our interns all summer as they share their conservation stories from the field!

Growing up in Bridgeton, NJ, I had always envisioned myself becoming someone with a title. What title you ask? Easy, a doctor. I knew I wanted to become something meaningful to the world. While I discovered becoming a doctor was not a fit for me, I found happiness in science and I focused my energy in a new direction. The environment.

I had always been an advocate for the environment. Being involved in environmental clubs, doing cleanups and even outreaching to my fellow peers about the importance of conserving energy.  Realizing in a young age that there is something that is changing our planet, for the worse. I was fortunate to realize this change in profession just in time to apply for this internship and blessed enough to take part in it. I am very thankful for the Hispanic Access Foundation and U.S. Fish & Wildlife for giving me this opportunity.The opportunity to spread my wings and find my path in life. To meet amazing people I would never thought of running into in this lifetime.

The women in all the fields that I have come across during this internship are unbelievably amazing. You, are on the reason why the little girl in me is here.  Reaching out and taking a chance on something I deeply care about. And for that THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart. The things I have witnessed and became part of in this internship vary in many things. From horseshoe surveying late in the night in Cape May, NJ to distinguishing different trees species for a restoration of forests across Bombay Hook’s National Refuge in Delaware. I have done the unimaginable for a Mexican-American girl from Bridgeton, NJ. And I know there is more to come.

My goal for this summer is to at least have an idea of what profession I want to be in. In addition, I aspire to bring more attention to conserving the environment. With Latino Conservation Week around the corner I will have the chance to do so. I will let you know what I have in mind for that week in the near future.Until then, I hope you would join me in this journey, of me spreading my wings and learning how to fly. Eventually inspiring others to do the same.

Springfield Hosts First Ever Community BioBlitz

“I work with the Sustainable Springfield Urban Refuge Partnership, and today we have our first ever BioBlitz for the city of Springfield!” exclaims Dave Sagan, Private Lands Partners Biologist with Silvio O. Conte National Wildlife Refuge. In partnership with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, ReGreen Springfield, the Springfield Science Museum, and experts and naturalists from the state of Massachusetts, the city of Springfield hosted its first BioBlitz in Abbey Brook on Thursday, July 13, 2017.

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service employees and interns pause for a group photo at the 2017 Springfield BioBlitz. Photo by ReGreen Springfield.

The purpose of the BioBlitz is to engage the local community in collecting data on the flora and fauna found in their neighborhood, specifically Abbey Brook behind the Springfield Renaissance School. In collaboration with host partners, participants from the Springfield community identified, counted, measured, photographed, and recorded information about the species they discovered.

Several groups of Renaissance School students had the opportunity to participate in the BioBlitz, where they were introduced to wildlife species in their community. “It’s pretty exciting to see folks that are actually coming and seeing Abbey Brook for the first time, whether it be youth or an older person, but especially youth to see them really experience nature first hand. A lot of folks see the trees and they see the woods, but they don’t take the time to go out and adventure into them. Today the BioBlitz partners will take them into the woods to teach them about the things that live in Abbey Brook, and point out what they might look for the next time they visit. The opportunity to come back and explore and look at other natural areas in the city is critical and important,” says Dave Bloniarz with U.S. Forest Service and ReGreen Springfield.

The NorthWoods Youth Conservation Corps participated in the BioBlitz, and have completed restoration projects in Abbey Brook. Photo by Kelsey Mackey.

“It’s really a cool engagement throughout the community, not only here at the Renaissance School but also the surrounding neighbors to see this little gem they have right in their backyard,” says Dave Sagan. The BioBlitz not only contributes critical data to the scientific community, but also exposes the Springfield community to natural areas within their city, often for the first time. “We found frogs, a turtle, and are also looking at some of the trees and plants that I didn’t know about, and what they do. I think that’s pretty cool,” says Savioie Mohown, a Renaissance School student and BioBlitz participant.

“This is my first BioBlitz and so far it’s been incredible. I got to meet kids from different areas, and working with partners has been amazing. Everyone is so knowledgeable, and they provide learning and education to today’s youth. I’m hoping the BioBlitz will continue to happen every year, it’s a great experience and an amazing opportunity to be able to attend,” says Crystal Leckie, Hispanic Access Foundation and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Visitor Services intern.

By the end of the BioBlitz, partners and participants successfully identified 97 bird, amphibian, reptile, and plant species! Many participants left with a greater understanding and appreciation for wildlife and natural areas in their community. The success of the BioBlitz species count exemplifies the incredible diversity of wildlife found within urban areas, and provides a unique opportunity for community members to learn about the wildlife in their own neighborhood.

Click here for more great stories like these from fellow Hispanic Access Foundation interns!