Moving Up

Hi everyone, I’m Bhargavi Karumuri and I’ll be sharing my experience as an intern in Washington D.C. this summer. I’m spending my summer helping communities all around the United States connect to their environment with the National Wildlife Refuge Association as a part of the Urban Refuge Program. I know that’s a mouthful but to sum it up, I will be researching the different community partnerships that successful urban refuges have, advertise them, and look at where other refuges need assistance to reach out to their local communities. The map below, has all of the different designated urban refuges that I will be working with this summer. Here is a better version of the map.

Source: US Fish and Wildlife
Here is a map of the different urban refuges in the system

The National Wildlife Refuge Association (NWRA) is a national non-profit that works closely with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to manage and take care of the National Wildlife Refuge System (NWRS). This consists of a network of 850 million acres of land and water set aside for wildlife conservation.

Source (Capitol Picture): Wikimedia Commons

Out of the 562 designated refuges, there are over 100 that are close to urban areas. These serve as important points where urban populations can be outside and appreciate the natural world. Even though the NWRS is the largest network of this sort in the United States set aside for conservation, many people have not heard of it before.

My work aims to raise awareness of these important areas to their surrounding communities, especially marginalized ones. Then, these communities can feel more empowered to take control of their surrounding lands and develop a strong sense of place.

Another part of this internship that I’m looking forward to is living in the nation’s capital. Being in this city really reminds you of the country’s foundations and the importance of everyone’s voices. It might be a bit morose in this political climate, but I’m excited to be working with such enthusiastic world-changers.

The first day of my internship was a busy one as there were many new people to get to know and introduce myself to. Right off of the bat, we had an all-staff meeting and another meeting about an awards gala that was later that week! I acclimated to the work environment quickly as we all worked together to put on this big event. From figuring out where to seat people to transporting things to the venue, I was there for all of it. The actual gala was a blast as I got to meet many influential people in the realm of conservation. The inspirational speeches that I heard at the gala by the many different award recipients really put me in the right mindset to start my work here.

Me (or Teddy Roosevelt?) and my co-summer interns (or a deer and a fox?) with the USFW mascot

I’m excited to use the skills that I’ve learned this past year in my classes and learn how they are being applied in the real world. In the past, I have worked in a similar sphere with the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department as I was an educator and leader for the Youth Stewardship Program. This was a program in which I led field trips for students grades 2-12 to their local parks. Here, I got to teach them about the environment through educational activities and led them in an environmental restoration project. The energy and passion that these community members had really inspired me to stay in the realm when I was looking for summer internships, and this position had everything I wanted.

If you’re interested, please stay tuned to hear more about how my internship goes!