Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Passing the Torch

One of my first CPWN events at Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge
Credit: Meghan Kearney/USFWS
Salmon in the Classroom at Boise-Elliot Humboldt in Portland.
Credit: Meghan Kearney/CPWN
It has been two and a half years since I sat down to my first staff meeting with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. As I worked my way from a student contractor, to a Pathways student intern; from Fishery Resources to Connecting People with Nature, I've found myself completely transformed from a person who was apathetic to science and the natural world around me – to someone who actively thinks about these things every single day. As of today – I have accepted the opportunity to continue my career with USFWS in the position of Communication Specialist with the NorthPacific Landscape Conservation Cooperative (NPLCC). The NPLCC, a sector of the National LCC Network, is a new segment of the USFWS, focused on landscape level conservation in the face of a changing climate. 

Students love seeing fish dissection! :)
Credit: Meghan Kearney/USFWS
For those of you who have been following my journey through Faces of Nature: thank you from myself and the entire Connecting People with Nature Team. We have together witnessed some amazing things. We started by dissecting flowers at the Wallowa County Watershed Festival. We've witnessed hundreds of smiling faces captivated by salmon eggs, collecting data on freshwater mussels or witnessing salmon spawning at fish hatcheries all around the region. We've helped connect inner-city classrooms to the outdoor world they don't often see. We've helped preserve and pass on cultural traditions to tribal youth. We've witnessed the opening of the accessible fishing platform at Little White Salmon National Fish Hatchery, and a year later welcomed our friends from United Cerebral Palsy back for the most successful day of fishing I have ever been a part of. You even witnessed me giving my best effort at speaking Spanish during ¡CelebraciĆ³n de Las Aves! at Tualatin National Wildlife Refuge. Though my Spanish was likely poor, I hope my efforts to connect every person I met to nature, were not.

Fishing with United Cerebral Palsy!
Credit: USFWS
Each day, and each small effort put forth by my USFWS colleagues and partners are tiny notions of giving that when added together, equal our mission: conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife, and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people.  This is something I've been honored to be a part of the past two and a half years, and look forward to continuing into my future. I hope you will also continue to follow the stories of the Connecting People With Nature Team, who will continue to update 'Faces of Nature' with endless great stories! I also invite you to follow my personal coverage with the NPLCC via Facebook, Twitter, and what will one day hopefully be my new blog. Here's to a happy, natural and wild 2014 – and to all who are and have been reading – never stop connecting with nature!