Reflecting on my Alaska Internship

My Alaska internship and adventure has come to an end.  I spent 5 months as an intern with the Forest Service in the Cordova Ranger District with the Celebra las Aves Playeras project. It was an amazing experience that I grew a lot from, both personally and professionally. I conducted shorebird surveys on the Copper River Delta, a critical area for migration. I had the opportunity to work on a Spanish wetlands education video called WetlandsLive. I also had a wide variety of wildlife and ecology field experience from invasive plant removal to Dusky Canada Goose nest island monitoring. It was the first time I conducted fieldwork and it was some of the most physically challenging work I have ever done. It got me out of my comfort zone but I learned so much so I was glad I pushed myself to doing things I would have never imagined doing. It was worth it because I saw snow falling for the first time, glaciers, Alaskan wildflowers and wildlife I had never seen before like bears, bald eagles, moose, and thousands of birds.

I am very grateful for the support I had back home for me to take a semester off from school and embark on this adventure. Support from professors, counselors, and previous supervisors. I was also glad to have the support of my parents. This was my first time being away from home and I was going from California to Alaska, a place they were not familiar with. They were worried for me, their oldest daughter, first to attend college and who decides to take a semester off for an internship, but they were also proud I was pursuing my career goals.

Through this internship I have met some of the most dedicated people I know. I had the opportunity to meet my colleagues in the Celebra las Aves Playeras project. In the Cordova Ranger District I worked with a great community who are all passionate about the work they do with the Forest Service. I also made some of life long friends. Cordova is an amazing town surrounded by natural beauty, and welcoming community. I can’t wait to be back in Cordova and explore other parts of Alaska one day.

The Celebra las Aves Playeras internship gave me new insights into conservation and natural resource careers. This internship has motivated me to continue to work in wildlife biology as well as environmental education. I hope to continue sharing my appreciation for the outdoors with others, bringing outdoor education to diverse communities and to be a role model for other young Latinos to pursue science careers. I am now back in California attending Santa Rosa Junior College and then transferring to a university. I will continue to seek volunteer and internship opportunities in wildlife research and environmental education.

leslycaballero
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