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This month, I end my six month internship for Felidae, and I am happy to report that it has been an enlightening experience full of surprises. When I graduated university in June, I dreaded being home. I had just returned from a semester studying tree kangaroos in Australia, and earlier in my college career I studied elephants in Kenya as well as intercultural communication in Spain. In comparison, the Bay Area seemed all too familiar, and I expected to spend every day planning and waiting for the day that I could travel abroad once again. However, interning for Felidae, allowed me to explore parts of the Bay I had never been before, and I found more diversity in this area than I’d ever known existed. When I first graduated, I missed the exotic places I’d become accustomed to, but this internship made me appreciate the wilderness and natural wonder of my own old stomping grounds. 

The first course I took in my freshman year of university was one on environmental rhetoric. In this course, I participated in a weeklong debate over whether or not “wilderness” truly exists, and whether it is helpful or harmful to conservation to treat humans and nature as separate entities. I argued on the side of coexistence, said I believed that pristine, untouched wilderness doesn’t exist, and that instead we should focus on the integrity of the flora and fauna in our own neighborhoods and communities. But I guess the lesson didn’t sink in as much as my professor had hoped, as I left searching for the very “wilderness” I’d argued didn’t exist. I studied at the base of Kilimanjaro and in the center of the Daintree rainforest, and I thought to myself, here is the nature and beauty I have been searching for. It took interning for Felidae for me to remember that lesson I learned freshman year, for me to fully understand the value and importance of the wildlife right outside my door. And, working with all of our amazing volunteers, I learned to appreciate the people around me as well.

I take from this internship not only new field, statistical, and communication skills, but also a newfound appreciation for my home. For the raccoons that dig through my trash at night, for the hawks that circle overhead, and for the wild cats that prowl these mountains. I know I will bring this attitude into my future endeavours in wildlife management and conservation, and I hope I can pass it on to others.

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