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U.S. FISH & WILDLIFE SERVICE: Hispanic Access Foundation Interns Kick Off Summer With The Service

On a hot and humid late afternoon on the first of June, we walked a leisurely mile-and-a-half around the perimeter of Cash Lake, a large and vibrant impoundment on the South Tract of the Patuxent Research Refuge. I was tagging along on the hike with the region's latest cohort of Hispanic Access Foundation interns, a group of intelligent and downright-pleasant young individuals with a heck of a summer ahead of them. They'd just arrived in the Washington-Baltimore metro area for the Hispanic Access Foundation Internship Orientation, a three-day summit to meet with Hispanic Access Foundation and Service staff and learn the ins and outs of the Service before shipping off to their respective field stations for the season.

The refuge visitor center air conditioner we'd enjoyed most of the day was sorely missed, but spirits were high on the trail as the interns chatted about their new positions, occasionally stopping to call out toads, bluebirds, and even the odd cormorant sunbathing by the water. It was a fitting way to kick off the summer for the interns – the first of many days spent outside in nature and connecting with others through conservation.

Partnered through the MANO Project initiative, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Hispanic Access Foundation work together to connect Latinx students and people of color with the outdoors and projects that protect natural resources. MANO Project internships and fellowships with the Service provide extensive training, mentoring, and professional development to ensure that students have the knowledge and resources to be successful - both during and long after their internships are finished.

This year's cohort brings a passion for nature and a broad range of cultural backgrounds and perspectives. Karla, for example, a native of Puerto Rico who will be stationed at John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge, majored in Astrophysics; Deliannie, whose family comes from Guatemala, will be working with the Providence Parks Urban Partnership and is pursuing her degree in Secondary Education.

Over the three days, interns were given a crash course on the mission and programs of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, as well as the Northeast's regional priorities and key conservation issues. Interns also learned about the role they will play in planning and leading events during Latino Conservation Week (July 16-24), an initiative to connect Latino communities with nature and help foster a new generation of environmental stewards.

At the heart of the orientation was a series of honest conversations on fostering a culture of diversity and inclusion in wildlife conservation -- both on successes to celebrate, and the challenges that still lie ahead. Among the speakers, the cohort heard from Chief of Refuges Scott Kahan and Chief of Visitor Services and Cultural Resources Lelaina Muth about the National Wildlife Refuge System and Urban Wildlife Conservation Program; Genevieve LaRouche and Ela-Sita Carpenter and their efforts to engage underserved communities at Masonville Cove; and a panel on navigating Service careers as people of color featuring HQ Service staff and HAF alumni.

The trip culminated in a special visit to the Main Interior Building in D.C., where we met with Shaun Sanchez, the Deputy Chief of the National Wildlife Refuge System. 

Sanchez, whose 20+ year career has taken him to refuges across the country, spoke candidly with us about his pathway into public service and lessons learned along the way. As a Latino himself, initiatives that build diversity within the Service and eliminate barriers of access to the outdoors for people of color are near and dear to Sanchez’s heart. He emphasized two of the Urban Wildlife Conservation Program's standards of excellence in particular that help guide these efforts: Knowing and Relating to the Community, and Being a Community Asset. 

From D.C. we bid farewell with the cohort as they departed to their field stations, where they’ll spend the summer learning everything from bird banding to environmental education programming -- and I can't help but be just a bit jealous.

Written by Mason Wheatley for U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

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Hispanic Access Foundation Hosts Brand Film Premiere ‘Mejor Juntos: Weaving the Fabric of Comunidad’

Hispanic Access Foundation is excited to announce the premiere of our new brand film during Mejor Juntos: Weaving the Fabric of Comunidad, taking place on Wednesday, June 29 from 3-4 pm ET. The short film details the history, mission and future of Hispanic Access as we all “Weave the Fabric of Comunidad.” The film also includes cameos from several network members who are leading big changes in their communities.

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Ashleyann Perez-Rivera: Honoring and Uplifting the Latino Voice in Historic Preservation

“When I was younger, I loved art, and wanted to design these beautiful houses; but now, I look back and realize this dream was a form of internalized oppression and a reflection of what I thought about my community.”

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ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENSE FUND: Study Explores Demographics of Communities Living Near Oil and Gas Wells

New research from Environmental Defense Fund published today in Population and Environment explores the demographics of people living near active oil and gas wells, finding that nearly 18 million individuals live within 1 mile of these, including disproportionately large numbers of communities of color, people living below the poverty line, older individuals and young children in many counties with active drilling across the US.

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Latest Blog

My journey

If I had been asked at the beginning of the year if I would have ever imagined the possibility of interning with US Fish and Wildlife, my response would have probably been, huh? That huh would have been emphasized with the same confusion someone would have had today, June 24th, 2022, if they would have been asked if they would have thought it was possible for Roe v. Wade to be reversed after 50 years.

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Introduction/ First Week Experience

Hello all! My name is Ashley Castillo. I am an undergraduate student attending the University of Massachusetts Amherst. I am part of the Natural Resouce Conservation field majoring in Wildlife conservation. One thing these classes have taught me is about our environment and the importance of staying sustainable and taking care of the planet on which we live in. Growing up in an urban community there was a lack of connection between the community and nature. In most instances, the most 'nature' I saw daily were trees planted on the sidewalks. As time progressed those street trees began to disappear and my daily view of nature disappeared with that as well. 

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Following the Digital Footsteps

Good day fellows. My name is Jiarui Han, and you can call me Lily. I am a remote Social Media and Communications Intern at Harper’s Ferry Center for Media. As for today’s blog, I would like to talk about how I got involved with the National Park Service and the process of overcoming the difficulties of being a remote intern.

Unlike everyone’s journey, mine started differently. I am a sophomore undergrad studying Data Science and Economics, and I would never think that one day I would have the opportunity to work at the NPS. I originally learned about this program in San Francisco, California, and after contacting the MANO Program Manager, I applied out of curiosity. I was soon able to follow up with a visit to Harper's Ferry Center, where I was given a tour of the campus and the Charles Town Conversation Lab. That's when I realized how essential these workers are to the community. I was astounded by the amount of effort that these incredible individuals had put into preserving important artworks and historical artifacts, each of which had its unique narrative to tell.

After that eye-opening experience, I moved to an apartment five hours away from Harper’s Ferry. It was a little disappointing that I couldn’t explore Harper’s Ferry more, but that didn’t stop me from exploring the National Parks near me. I was able to visit the NPS office at the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve in Glen Jean, West Virginia, and other nearby state parks. At home, I can connect easily with my mentors and director through Microsoft Teams. Shifting to an online setting may seem unpleasant at first, but it gave me the privilege to travel more while also finishing my work. 

My job this summer is to work on updating new Sharepoint sites and promote Harper’s Ferry Center on Social Media applications. I have just finished the training recently and I am thrilled to tackle my first project on 508 Accessibility Settings. Through these next blogs that I will be posting, I hope to share my journey and growth with you all. Thank you!

Agency: National Park Service

Program: Harpers Ferry Center Program

Location: Harpers Ferry Center for Media Services

Rolling through the AV Archives

Hello everyone, I’m Krystjana Bruce! I just coming up on my first month at the Harpers Ferry Center under the National Park Service. As a Data Asset Management Intern, I am currently focused on preserving files from the Center’s Audio-Visual Archive. Most of the files I am dealing with are on hard drives, thumb drives, data DVDs, and data CDs. The Center creates a lot of different videos and images for the different parks around the country. The pamphlets given out at each park, and the videos played at Visitor Centers often come from this center.

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Hispanic Access Foundation connects Latinos and others with partners and opportunities to improve lives and create an equitable society.

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