I have thoroughly enjoyed my AmeriCorps service term with MAI and USFWS. This has further affirmed my desire to work for USFWS later on in my career. While I don’t feel like a full-time USFWS position is directly next in the cards for me, I am grateful to learn of additional ways to engage with USFWS outside of being a direct federal employee. I fully intend on returning to Conboy Lake NWR to continue supporting the state-endangered Oregon Spotted Frog population next year as an employee of Mt. Adams Resource Stewards, another local non-profit that provides a guiding hand in maintaining and preserving the local ecology of the Glenwood valley.
Somewhere between the late nights and early mornings, I have fallen in love with this valley and the Gorge. Despite my 6 months living here, I feel like I have only seen a small portion of the wonders in this area. I am amazed at how I’ve been able to walk through areas closed off from the public and encounter plants and animals few people will ever see. It has been so thrilling to see the direct impacts of the bullfrog removal efforts, and I can’t wait to see the future of the projects here at CLNWR. This season has taught me a lot about myself. I’m learning to trust my intuition more, especially during stickier situations in the field. I’m also gaining confidence in my own abilities as a scientist and a teacher. I’m personally proud of when I briefly taught introductory R programming concepts to my crew members, which I wasn’t sure I could accomplish. I’m glad to bring my unique experiences to this site, share them with my colleagues, and learn from them. I also learned more about my personal interests and dealing with loneliness. I don’t think I’ve quite reached peak inner peace, but I think I’ve gotten closer over the past few months. Moving across the country, where I was thousands of miles away from my friends and family, was hard, but I think I’ve started to build a life here slowly. I’m grateful for my experiences here that have not only made me a better biologist, but a better person as well.