Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
PACIFIC SOUTHWEST REGION: Federal Agencies Visit Grant High School GEO Academy
California-Nevada Offices , October 6, 2014
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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Public Affairs Officer Cindy Sandoval speaks to GEO Academy students at Grant High School.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Public Affairs Officer Cindy Sandoval speaks to GEO Academy students at Grant High School. - Photo Credit: Jacky Elizarraraz/BLM
Federal employees visit Grant High School to discuss federal careers and Department of Interior ageceny missions.
Federal employees visit Grant High School to discuss federal careers and Department of Interior ageceny missions. - Photo Credit: Cindy Sandoval/USFWS

By Cindy Sandoval

On October 3 staff from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and U.S. and Wildlife Service (Service) visited Grant High School in Sacramento to discuss their agency’s mission and federal job opportunities with students. The Grant High School students are part of the school’s Environmental Science and Design Academy known commonly as GEO.

The GEO Academy teaches students, through curriculum and activities, principles of environmental awareness and community responsibility. The ecosystem and sustainable principles learned in the program can lead to well informed citizens and open the door to federal employment.

While it may seem early to discuss career paths, many of the students in the GEO Academy are already looking at college and deciding what major to declare. That is where the federal employees come in.

Upon their arrival the BLM and Service staff members were greeted by the students who were eager to learn about the federal government’s role in conservation and sustainability. BLM staff presented first and described the mission of the agency and how they work for the American people.

“One of the many reasons to consider working for the government is the number and variety of jobs available, the federal government offers positions both in the country and abroad,” said Jacky Elizarraraz,Youth Coordinator with BLM.

Jobs like natural resource specialists and fire management officer were discussed along with positions that the students had never thought of. When BLM staff read off a list of Hollywood Blockbusters filmed on land they managed, the students realized that the agency was more than just biologists and firefighters. Films like Thor, Fast and Furious and Valkyrie had portions filmed on federal land and that took public affairs staff, law enforcement officers and many other civil servants to make the movies possible.

Next it was the Service’s turn to explain what career options were available in their agency. Some students were aware that the Service works with threatened and endangered species and manages the National Wildlife Refuge System. However, few knew that the agency is one of the oldest wildlife agencies tracing its beginnings back to 1871 and the U.S. Commission on Fish and Fisheries.

Much like the BLM presentation students thought that they were only going to hear about biology careers, but to their surprise they also heard about International Affairs, Law Enforcement and even the Service’s “wildlife sniffing dog” a Labrador trained to find illegal wildlife products in airports and shipping terminals. Students were impressed with the Wildlife Without Borders Program and most of the questions asked by the students were about international wildlife efforts and wildlife smuggling. One student even asked if he could volunteer his pet canine to help combat illegal wildlife shipments.

During the students junior year in the academy at Grant High School they have the opportunity to work on real world projects. These projects can include activities in parks, gardens, restoration sites or even school grounds. When these students reach their junior projects they will now have an understanding of how agencies handle sustainability on a large scale and how the basic principles of most conservation issues are the same whether it is on a National Wildlife Refuge, BLM management area or a small community garden in their neighborhood.

Visiting groups like the GEO Academy shows students that their interest in conservation and sustainability does not have to stop when they leave school. In fact they can pursue a degree and a career that focus on saving wild places and animals both home and aboard. Students that are interested in conservation or civil service employment also learned that it takes much more than just biology to reach agency goals and persevere the great American outdoors.


Cindy Sandoval is a public affairs specialist at the Pacific Southwest Regional Office in Sacramento.

Contact Info: Cynthia Sandoval, 916-978-6159, cynthia_d_sandoval@fws.gov
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