Spotlight Story

09 November 2022

Mason Wheatley: Finding a Career in Conservation from an Internship

Category: Spotlight Story

From a young age, Mason Wheatley felt a passion and calling for the outdoors. Not only did he feel this appreciation for the outdoors but he deeply enjoyed making creative content that involved video, music, or photography with the main component of it being nature.

An internship with the US Fish and Wildlife Service in partnership with the MANO Project in 2020 opened his eyes to the vast opportunities within the federal land agency.

One day while attending the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs, Mason came across the MANO Project and their efforts to recruit for their first Directorate Fellowship Program with the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Prior to this discovery, Mason did not think he could make the outdoors a career without becoming a biologist or ecologist. While he did major in Environmental Studies, he did not see firsthand many career opportunities in the field.

However, he applied to the program and landed an internship with the FWS Alaska Regional Office. His position entailed creating social media content and also coordinating with the Arctic Youth Ambassadors Program. The program engaged youth in Alaska, discussing the overlap between climate change and conservation, and gave them a platform to share about the issues they care about.

After this internship, Mason felt empowered to pursue a career in the agency and remained connected with the contacts he made during the fellowship. During the fellowship, an opportunity opened up in the Hadley, Massachusetts office and his former supervisor urged him to apply.

Now, Mason works as a Public Affairs Specialist for the US Fish and Wildlife Service in the Northeast Regional Office. In his role, he travels to refuges across the country and captures a wide range of stories for the Service’s social media platforms and websites. Within the past year, he has been able to do a few day trips and overnights to support events at refuges. He feels captivated by the work and deeply appreciates his office.

“My team is energizing because everyone loves storytelling. Every day I feel like I learn something new because while I might not be a biologist, I get to uplift their stories,” shared Mason.

As Mason embarks on telling well-rounded narratives throughout the national wildlife refuge system, he says “it is all new to me and it has been a positive challenge for me to see how much I do not know.”

This past summer, he was also able to support Hispanic Access interns within the Northeast Region and uplift their stories. He sees the value in empowering the next generation of conservationists and sharing his own experiences within the Service. With the opportunity from the MANO Project, he was able to find a career that mixed both of his passions into one. He hopes his story will encourage others to pursue a career and also find creativity in the work they do.

Hispanic Access is inspiring, training, and working with leaders like Mason Wheatley, who have a stake in their community and have the drive for positive change. To help support and continue this work, please consider making a Charitable Donation

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