21 June 2021

Working at home to save species abroad

Written by: Emily Khazan

My first several weeks working with the foreign species program in the Ecological Services branch of the US Fish and Wildlife Service has been exciting and eye-opening. Along with my fellow DFP intern, I was quickly incorporated into the small and dedicated team in charge of evaluating foreign species under the engendered species act. This little-known branch of ecological services searches for, compiles, distills, and evaluates scientific and policy information for endangered and threatened species that occur outside of our borders.

As a student of ecology for the last decade, I have put most of my effort both in classroom and field education into understanding and conserving biodiversity in tropical forests. So far, I have updated species assessments for several tropical organisms including ornate and extremely imperiled swallowtail butterflies – one group of many that I study for my Ph.D. research. I am thrilled that my experience with international conservation entities, my familiarity with rare animals from Central and South America, and my personal mission to increase awareness of conservation are all aligning in this internship. My job this summer feels easier yet given the support and kindness of my FWS colleagues as I race to learn as much as possible about facets of the Service over our short, 11-week internship.

I am excited for what the next two months bring; so far my exposure to fun and interesting science via webinars, my education on writing styles for the government (which translate to so many other fields!), and my overview of the FWS have been educational, exciting, and inspirational as I consider my career path post-Ph.D. Working with others to increase awareness of conservation and the plight of many species outside of our borders presents an opportunity for me to capitalize on my skills and my passion.

Agency: U.S Forest Service

Program: US Fish & Wildlife Service - DFP

Location: USFS Headquarters, Washington Office

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