Spotlight Story

13 September 2023

Priscilla Inostroza: Paving the Way for Latino Representation in Wildlife Conservation

Category: Spotlight Story

Priscilla Inostroza is a senior student at Texas State University, where she studies wildlife biology with a minor in environmental studies. While growing up, Priscilla realized how enjoyable the outdoors were for her. Specifically, she wanted to work with animals. However, this career path was outside the traditional roles seen in her family.

With that in mind, her passion has led her to adventures as far as South Africa. As a member of multiple organizations, Priscilla has contributed to a range of activities, including community outreach events to empower local communities to take care of their natural resources.

“I'm in an organization called Bobcat Stream that focuses on teaching the community how to take care of their water and how to test it, because we do have a river that flows through campus. I also enjoy doing research, so right now I'm working with a lab on campus with macroinvertebrates.”

Last year, while browsing for internship opportunities, she came across the MANO Project workforce development program. After the application process, she was accepted as an intern with the US Fish and Wildlife Service through the Directorate Resource Assistant (DFP) Program in Puerto Rico. She was assigned to work with the University of Puerto Rico in Mayagüez studying an invasive species called the red-tailed boa.

“I was able to do my own Latino Conservation Week event, teaching the community about that invasive species, how to handle and identify them and not confuse it with the native Puerto Rican Boa.”

This was Priscilla’s first internship with field experience outside her hometown. One of the benefits of the program is that it offers a two-year period to apply for jobs with the agency using a non-competitive hiring status. As part of the program, she had the chance to fly to Virginia and meet other interns in the program.

“It was a great networking opportunity. I was in Virginia for a week, and then I flew to Puerto Rico and stayed there for three months.”

During the MANO Program, her focus was on outreach, education, and public awareness around invasive species.

“I would create flyers and go out to the towns and put interpretive signs up. They had information on how to identify the red-tailed boa and who to call.”


Beyond serving as a MANO intern with the FWS, Priscilla also had the chance to be a Latino Conservation Week Ambassador this summer.

“It was a little challenging at first because I've never had an online position, where I don't have anyone in the surrounding area that I could see and talk to. However, I really enjoyed it. I reached out to organizations near my area and thought of events that could benefit the area of central Texas. I came up with ideas and I pitched them to some organizations. I do plan on doing it next year as well.”

“I enjoy emphasizing Latinos in the biology and conservation field. I see this a lot in my university; Latinos aren't represented in our degrees. That inspired me to seek out ways of uniting more Latinos that are studying wildlife biology, and I feel like that represents leadership for me. I mean, just making sure that I include everyone on a field that lacks that representation is what inspires me to do this.”

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