Natural History Museum

Last week we had the chance to get a behind-the-scenes-experience with the Ornithology department at the Natural History Museum, which is one of my FAVORITE museums here in Los Angeles. Every time I go, I HAVE to check out the their bird room, and I have always wondered if that’s all they had….well they don’t! They have thousands upon thousands of different birds from all over the world, it’s AMAZING!

We met up with Kimball L. Garrett, the Ornithology Director and he gave the grand tour of the department. He took us to their rooms that have THOUSANDS of different species of birds that have been found or taken in for science purposes and are now now curated and kept safely. Mr. Kimball was telling us that one of the biggest problems they have in this room is keeping beetles out. He even showed us the traps they us, and many of them had several beetles stuck to them.

We were also able to go into the room where the volunteers were dissecting the birds, cleaning them and stuffing them back together. It was VERY cold in there, and it had this smell that reminded me of that time in high school where I was forced to dissect a frog. Some of the volunteers had been there for 15+ years!!! Wow, talk about dedication. It was such a treat to be able to see to all the work that really goes on to be able to put a new bird out in display at the museum.

IMG_3821 IMG_3822 IMG_3825 IMG_3829 IMG_3837

Diversity and Inclusiveness

“Diversity in the world is a basic characteristic of human society, and also the key condition for a lively and dynamic world as we see today.”

— Jinato Hu

A main part of this internship has involved workshops and discussions about diversity and inclusiveness in the natural resources.  Our first discussion about this was together as a group, back in February during our weeklong “Celebrate Shorebirds” intern training in San Diego.  Natasha Kerr- Program Coordinator and Dr. Sue Bonfield- Executive Director, presented on their National Science Foundation funded research on Latinos and the barriers to their participation in science education along with how to improve outreach to this audience.

Learn more about how EFTA is connecting cultures at:

Along with the research presented by Sue and Natasha, we also had roundtable discussions about this topic.  It was really interesting to hear from all my fellow interns about their perspective on diversity and inclusiveness for Latinos in the natural resources.  The trend in the ’80’s for the government agencies was to increase diversity in the workforce by hiring women…and it has now shifted to culturally increasing diversity.  It is really interesting, and not surprising, that this movement has gained a lot of momentum over the past several years with organizations such as LatinoOutdoors and Hispanic Access-who was a 2013 EFTA intern, Lesly, will be going on a weeklong excursion to see six national parks with a group of fellow Latino students!

Continuing with the trend of learning more about diversity in the natural resources, a couple of weeks ago I attended a conference hosted by the Colorado Alliance for Environmental Education (CAEE) on how to better have diversity and inclusiveness in environmental education.  The day’s discussion was centered upon their recent agenda to have a diversity and inclusiveness plan on how environmental organizations can increase diversity in their workplace. The common agenda goals set on this plan are to:

  1. Increase the awareness of the value of diversity and inclusiveness in the environmental education field
  2. increase inclusiveness skills among environmental educators
  3. increase the diversity of environmental educators
  4. increase the diversity of the audiences being served by environmental education

This movement to make our parks and open spaces more culturally and ethnically diverse is one I feel we can all be on board with…our parks should represent how the rest of our country looks: diverse!

Engaging Latino audiences in partnership with the Americas Latino Eco Festival during a bird walk at a local wildlife refuge.

Engaging Latino audiences in partnership with the Americas Latino Eco Festival during a bird walk at a local wildlife refuge.

Early Mornings and Late Nights

Between the early morning SWFL (Southwestern Willow Flycatcher) surveys and the night amphibian surveys, my sleep cycle has been completely messed up. Wake up at three a.m….work ’til noon….sleep….work at 7 p.m…..and then get home at 3 a.m…CRAZY!! But completely worth it.

This week I would like to give the “bad luck” award to my dear friend and co-worker, Mianna Maestas. I have come to the conclusion that she does not work well early in the morning or late at night. During our SWFL survey, while we all walked around in dry clothing and shoes, all you could hear was the “squish…squish” sound coming from Mianna. Somehow she managed to get completely wet, even with hip-high waders on. That’s not where her bad luck ended though. During our night amphibian survey, while sitting on the side of the truck, she fell back into the trunk of the truck. No idea how she lost her balance, but it was pretty funny to watch. Excited to see what more will happen to her this week, haha. Much love Mianna 🙂

As my time here in Alamosa slowly comes to an end, my friendship with the amazing people I have meet here continues to grow. I’ll be sad to leave behind three amazing roommates, four hilarious BLM interns/seasonals, and two incredible bosses.

What I have learned so far…

Wow, only one more month to go and this internship will come to an end. * Will my business cards still count?* hahaha. Having a week off in San Francisco I had sometime to reflect of the last few months, so I thought I would put together a little list of the main things I have learned, along with some tips for some of you who might be looking into applying for an internship or job.

  1. Organization is KEY!!!

Having an internship is just like having a JOB! You have different assignments and tasks to do, hours to keep track of, forms to fill, conference calls and meetings with your supervisors. Also, just like in a regular job you have to keep track of when everything is due, and if you are not organized (having a planner or a big calendar helps A LOT) you will loose track of certain things you had due or times.

  1. Learn how to properly introduce yourself to others.

Meeting someone, especially a person with a higher title can be intimidating, but practicing how to introduce yourself and learning what things to say will make a big difference in the first impression you make on that person. One thing I have learned is not to sell yourself short (in person or on paper, but don’t lie either). Be confident in your tone and with what you are saying but don’t be arrogant. You never know, the next person you meet might be your future boss.

  1. Explore the job market and what jobs might be available.

Being in an internship does not always guarantee you a permanent position once it is over. During the entirety of your employment you will constantly meet people who work for the organization or others outside of your work place. Don’t be afraid to ask if they have other intern opportunities available or actual job positions. If doesn’t hurt to ask and you don’t loose anything.

I know this wasn’t a long list but I hope It helps someone out there reading this. Till next time.

To Laugh With or To Laugh At

What would your friends do if you fell into the water?  Portland, Angelica, and Deisy  are such good friends that instead of helping,  they just laugh. Tuesday started bright and early with a Southwestern Flycatcher survey. In order to receive accurate information it means getting stuck in willows, walking miles in waders, encountering mosquitoes, and even a few snakes. Portland is a gentlemen: he checks all water levels before we have to cross it. He realizes how short the rest of us are compared to his lengthy body. There were a few times when he walked out into the middle and realized it was impossible for the rest of us to make it through without being soaked. We were finally able to come to a point that was easy to cross, thanks to the fallen tree blocking the rapid waters from connecting one piece of the ditch to the other. Portland walked across easily and I was second to follow. However, I wasn’t able to walk so “easy”. I was able to maneuver my way across one branch but as I prepared to approach the second, a gush of water swept my legs right from under me. My mind reacted before my body did I took a gasp of air and stuttered, “Oh no”. Instead of trying to approach the branch again with my feet I instead straddled it like it was a horse ready to gallop. I kicked my other leg over the branch and proceeded to step onto a dry cliff. All of my so-called friends watched silently as I made each move. They all waited until I hit the shore when their laughter abruptly erupted. Angelica had as much water in her eyes as I did in my waders. Every time Portland looked at me he would laugh all over again. I was annoyed at first until I realized I made a complete fool out of myself and instead of trying to exit the water I continued on my way through it…because all that ran through my head was that I was already wet and there was nothing I could do to take it back. I splashed through the rest of the survey as each step I took sounded like a dying duck from all the water that squished between my toes. It was bound to happen eventually. I guess now I can believe everyone that told me, “You do not work for BLM unless you’ve gotten stuck or fallen in”. I am proud to officially be a BLM employee!