SCA 2010, Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge
Public Affairs Specialist, USFWS | Hadley, MA
Five years ago, Tylar Greene interned with SCA and the US Fish and Wildlife Department in a program designed to put under-represented students on a solid, green career track (her video account of that experience still draws raves). Today, Tylar is indeed working in the outdoors and introducing others to the wonders of wildlife. Here’s her story, in her own words.
One day, I woke up in New York City and fell asleep in Errol, New Hampshire, a little town tucked away in the northern forest. I was beginning an internship at Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge where I would spend the summer conducting wildlife surveys, providing visitor programs, and developing public outreach materials.
I was a participant in the Conservation Internship Program, now called the Career Discovery Internship Program, a partnership between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and SCA. With the exception of a few times at summer camp, this was the first time I connected with nature on a true primitive level: no cell phone reception, about an hour away from a sizeable town and as many moose, bears, loons, bats and eagles as I could stand.
I had a unique experience at Umbagog, as Errol is nothing like my hometown in the Bronx, but I pushed through my healthy fears and had an enjoyable summer, which led me to pursue a career in conservation. At the time, I was looking to get into the environmental justice field after college and SCA sealed the deal – I was going to go after this dream.
After my first experience at Umbagog, I was accepted into the SCEP (Student Career Experience Program) with the Fish and Wildlife Service and I worked at a few places until I graduated and landed my current job as a public affairs specialist. Now, I lead outreach and communications for national wildlife refuges, and urban and youth initiatives in the Northeast Region.
I love working with my colleagues to keep people informed and help them understand the importance of what we do and conservation overall. Everyone is so passionate, it’s infectious. There’s no better feeling than seeing our employees and partners get recognized in a newspaper, a broadcast story or at a ceremony about their hard work to help a species and serve our visitors and the public.
Conservation is entering a new age, and as advocates of conservation, we’re realizing we still have a lot of work to do. One area that’s receiving a lot of attention: agencies and organizations are beginning to work in urban areas, to reach more people of color and make connections to economically disadvantaged students and families. Some have been working to do that for awhile, and it’s great to see both initiative and progress. It’s a topic that is very personal to me, and working for the Service, I get to be a part of that.
I’m excited that the conservation world is realizing that it’s important to break (invisible) barriers, reach out to new audiences and just like my SCA experience, work outside the comfort zone. I participated in many youth enrichment and employment programs while in elementary, middle and high school and then with SCA in college. I can’t confidently say I’d be where I am today without some of those experiences. If I didn’t have parents that worked to get me in those early programs or come across SCA, you might be reading a very different story.