My experience at Crystal River was eye-opening, the reality of managing a refuge in the midst of human encroachment was something I wasn’t originally ready for. But as the days went by my frustration turned to empathy and admiration for the people involved in conservation in the area of Crystal River. During my time here I was involved with multiple projects spanning from fieldwork to communication. I created an interpretive guide as well as an outline for an educational curriculum. I also was involved in water quality and bird sampling. This experience reinforced that science communication and mass access is my passion.
One of my favorite memories at crystal river national wildlife refuge was the first day on the job. The first day I was working we had a seagrass planting that worked closely with the local elementary schools. I learned about friends groups and how they not only actively take part in community conservation, but also hold individuals accountable for natural resource abuse and exploitation. Interacting with the elementary students by answering questions that they had about the animals at the refuge was wholesome and challenging. It was fun trying to memorize as many manatee facts as well as coming up with what we were going to use to explain on the spot.
My second favorite memory was the trip to Egmont key to do the bird survey. It was inspiring to see the intersection between history and nature. Conducting the bird survey was not only fun but shocking to see the number of birds on the relatively small island. Additionally, it was unfortunate to think that the population of birds currently is much less than what it used to be.
One thing that was challenging was learning conflict resolution when working on the boardwalk. As I continue my journey in working within the environmental sciences it is something that I will continue to learn and hopefully become better at.