Last week, we were all sad to see one of the first co-workers to depart for the season. With hugs and farewells, I knew that it would not be the last time I would see Mirna Borrego Lazalde. Mirna joined the Wildlife and Ecology Department at the US Forest Service late March this season. She was here for approximately two months as an International Programs (IP) and Copper River International Migratory Bird Initiative intern (CRIMBI). To start IP is an agency of the US Forest Service that promotes sustainable forest management and biodiversity conservation overseas by creating collaborations between Forest Service staff and partners overseas. CRIMBI is a Forest Service initiative along with the Pacific Northwest Research Station, Chugach National Forest, Ducks Unlimited, and Ducks Unlimited of Canada uniting aquatic bird conservation throughout the Americas. In other words, these organizations created this initiative to create successful partnerships between local, state, private, and national agencies whose primary goal is to conserve birds across the Western Hemisphere. The initiative was named the Copper River Delta, due to the site’s status as a crucial stop-over site for the survival of shorebirds and other waterbirds. As a CRIMBI intern, how does Mirna come into play?
Mirna arrived to Cordova from Ensenada, Mexico. Ever since she was a kid, she was restless to travel, in particular to Alaska. She wasn’t able to travel to many places, however, through the world of photography and documentaries she was able to explore the corners of the Earth. While she attended her local university she was interested in the sciences, however not the objective side but more the communication aspect that is often incorporated in museums. She enjoyed the “storytelling” aspect and with her passion for photography, she was able to capture quotidian moments in her community. After working for several museums coordinating outreach events for the public, in particular for kids and families, she ended up at Terra Peninsular. Terra Peninsular is a non-profit organization in Ensenada dedicated to environmental conservation in Baja California. As the Educational Services and Outreach Officer (Oficial de Servicios Educativos y Alcanze Comunitario), Mirna coordinates educational activities and outreach for the community (focuses on ages 16 and up) and is in charge of the two festivals that they host every year. One festival is in Baja San Quintin, while the other is in Bahia de Todos Santos. Therefore, as the coordinator of the festivals in Baja she was the appropriate fit for the IP and CRIMBI internship.
As the first CRIMBI intern, Mirna’s primary role in Cordova was as a “qualitative investigator” in the Copper River Delta Shorebird Festival. In other words, Mirna would not only observe, but also assist with the Cordova Chamber of Commerce and Shorebird Festival coordinator in creating and implementing activities for the Shorebird Festival. During the festival I was able to help her and event coordinators to make sure things were running smoothly. After the festival and closer to her departure date, I asked about her experience. She said that she was truly inspired by her experience with the Shorebird Festival and in Alaska, “I absorbed so many experiences and learned many skills and techniques that I will be able to take back to Terra Peninsular in Ensenada.” She also said that she appreciates this opportunity and “I am fascinated on how a community [Cordova] as a whole is concerned with conservation” and “appreciates natural resources a lot more now.” She realizes that it will not be the same once she returns to Ensenada, but now she knows that she will try to come back to Cordova or at least visit other places whenever she gets the chance. Hopefully, amongst her travels we will see each other again or perhaps I will be able to stop by to visit one of Terra Peninsular’s shorebird festivals and see the inspired changes from the Shorebird Festival.
PSA. She recommends for anyone traveling to Cordova or Alaska in general to take tons of photos, meet the people there, and learn the history. Make sure to bring extra socks as well!
Check out the Terra Peninsular’s website! (http://terrapeninsular.org/en/)