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A Talk on the Wild Side.

Happy Latino Conservation Week

During Latino Conservation Week, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service invites you to learn a little bit about a few of the conservationists of tomorrow. Below are mini-biographies of the interns secured by the Service in 2020 through our partnership with the Hispanic Access Foundation (HAF). We welcome and thank our HAF Interns, especially during Latino Conservation Week!

Abigail “Abby” Dziegiel

  woman in green shirt Abby is a master’s student at Fresno State University who is working with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to study tule elk habitat and movement patterns using GPS radio collars. After she completed her undergraduate degree in biology at the University of California Merced in 2014, Abby went on to work in a variety of jobs, including an environmental and biological field technician, a high school substitute teacher, and an artist’s assistant. These seemingly disconnected ventures each contributed experience to her overarching goal to promote public environmental awareness and conservation through both artistic and scientific problem solving. Abby is a DFP Intern* at San Luis National Wildlife Refuge Complex in Los Banos, California.


Alexa Bracken

woman smiling for camera   Alexa is a student at the University of Rhode Island with a double major in Environmental Economics and Anthropology who seeks to understand the interpersonal relationship between people and the environment. Dedicated to her studies, Alexa has been on the Dean's List many years in a row. She was an intern at Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge in the summer of 2019 and later served as the Environmental Education and Community Outreach Intern with Providence Parks. Alexa is an intern with the Providence Park Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnership in Providence, Rhode Island.


Allison Salas

   woman with bird on handAllison earned her B.S. degree in Ecology and Evolution from the University of Maryland, College Park. After graduating, she traveled for a few years conducting ornithology field research for several different projects in the U.S. and Canada. She started her master’s thesis research at New Mexico State University, where she is currently studying the nest survival of Bendire’s Thrashers, a rare passerine species that is facing population declines. Allison is a DFP Intern at the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge near Honolulu, Hawai’i.


Anabel Rosero

woman in jean jacket   Anabel, a first-generation Ecuadorian American, is currently a junior at Rutgers University pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Ecology, Evolution, and Natural Resources with a minor in Environmental Geomatics. While earning her Associate of Science in Environmental Science degree with honors, she participated in two internships, including water quality analyses and wildlife research, presented at the NJ Water Environment Association Conference, and actively engaged in her community including stream and beach clean-ups. Anabel is passionate about water quality and other environmental policy issues, especially those impacting under- represented communities of color. Anabel is a DFP Intern at the FWS’ Sacramento Regional Office in Sacramento, California.


Ariel Martinez

   woman in front of mountain Ariel graduated from Smith College in 2019 with a degree in environmental science and policy and a minor in economics. She is passionate about equitable access to the outdoors. She has worked for the government in various capacities over the past 4 years, most recently with the US Forest Service as a volunteer and partnership coordinator for the South Platte Ranger District. Before that, she was an economics intern for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and a two time cross programmatic intern for the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Ariel in an intern with the National Wildlife Refuge System at Headquarters in Falls Church, Virginia.

Armando Porras

   man in blue shirt Armando discovered his true passion for conservation and sustainability through enjoyment of outdoor activities like fishing, camping and hiking. Course work at Sacramento State, a job with the Sustainability Technology Optimization Research Center (STORC), and years of experiences in engineering, have lead Armando to pursue his interests in environmental/water engineering. Armando is an Intern at the Sacramento Regional Office in Sacramento, California.



Ashley Oelsen

woman in hiking gear   Ashley has a degree in International Business from the University of Southern California. In addition to serving as a sustainability consultant for corporations and sitting on the Board of World Education Connection, she has fieldwork experience studying chimpanzees in Tanzania and orangutans in Borneo. In addition, through a Federal Policy Fellowship with the International Fund for Animal Welfare, she has experience working with Congressional staffers on legislation. Ashley was awarded the Earth & Environmental Science Research Grant from the University of Pennsylvania, where she is earning a master’s degree in Environmental Science with a concentration in Biodiversity and Wildlife Conservation. Ashley is a DFP Intern with the Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office in Carlsbad, California.



Cassandra Doll

   woman with butterfly on forehead Cassandra, a Cuban American from Miami, earned her Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Florida. During  her undergraduate studies she discovered a passion for insect ecology and conservation while conducting research at the McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity. She is currently pursuing a Master of Science in Biology at Washington State University. As a graduate student, she is evaluating the effects of using selective herbicides as a management tool in the habitat of the federally threatened Oregon silverspot  butterfly.  Cassandra is a DFP Intern at the San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge Complex in San Francisco, California.


Chloe Hansum

woman in red shirt   Chloe is a biology and environmental science major at Dordt University in Northwest Iowa. Growing up, Chloe spend a lot of time exploring the outdoors and was active in 4-H. She has an interest in wildlife conservation and studying how climate change is impacting marine ecosystems. At Dordt, Chloe enjoys leading the Science and Faith Club and being involved in the Sustainability Committee. Upon completing her undergraduate studies, she hopes to attend graduate school to study marine biology. Chloe is a DFP Intern at Arcata Fish and Wildlife Office in Arcata, California.


Christina “Nina” Tortosa

   woman outsideNina is a first-year graduate student at Sacramento State University where she is studying conservation ecology with a focus in vernal pool research. For her master’s project, she will be researching the effects of competition and predation on large branchiopods in California vernal pools. She has two years of experience working in ecological conservation, including riparian native plant restoration, field research and data analysis, wetland elevation vegetation surveying, and raptor handling. She hopes to work as a conservation ecologist and help educate others on the importance of habitat and species preservation. Nina is a DFP Intern at Sacramento Regional Office in Sacramento, California.


Claire Yager

   woman on beach Claire is a currently a senior at Montana State majoring in Organismal Biology. Her research focuses on insect thorax material properties. In addition to ecology work during the summers, she works for the campus museum and does educational presentations at the local children’s stem center. Clair is DFP Intern with the Arcata Fish  and Wildlife Office in Arcata, California.


Erin Abernethy

   woman selfieErin is a PhD student in the Integrative Biology Department at Oregon State University. She grew up exploring the rivers of the Southeastern USA and is now researching the impact of dams on aquatic insects in the Colorado River Basin. Erin received a Master of Science from the Odum School of Ecology and Savannah River Ecology Lab at the University of Georgia. For her MS, Erin examined how invasive species carcasses and scavengers were incorporated into energy flow on the Big Island of Hawai'i. Erin received a Bachelor of Science from Appalachian State University, where she researched the impact of small dams on the population genetics of freshwater mussels. Erin is a DFP Intern with the Portland Regional Office in Portland, Oregon.


Fabiola Torres

   woman with  glasses Fabiola earned her bachelor’s degree in general biology in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, where she worked-part time as a Park Ranger at the Cabo Rojo National Wildlife Refuge. While there, she conducted wildlife surveys and restoration and conservation projects. After graduation, Fabiola started working as a full-time Biological Science Technician for the US Department of Agriculture studying Indian mongoose for a rabies project. She is a current graduate student at the University of California, Los Angeles. Fabiola is a DFP Intern with Oregon Fish and Wildlife Office in Klamath Falls, Oregon.

Jailene Hidalgo

   woman with glassesJailene earned a Bachelors of Science in Environmental and Sustainability Sciences with a minor in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Cornell University. As a wildlife biologist, she has been involved in field research that informed the conservation and management of various species including moose, seaside sparrows and marsh wrens. Additionally, she has practiced science interpretation and communication through public outreach education programming. She has worked with various agencies including the New York Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Jailene is an Intern with the Urban Wildlife Conservation Program at Headquarters in Falls Church, Virginia.

Jennifer Urmstom

  woman posing in front of tree Jennifer attended Monmouth University to study Marine and Environmental Biology and Policy, earning a Bachelor of Science. She first became interested in marine birds while working as an intern for New Jersey Fish and Wildlife, where she monitored beaches to protect endangered beach-nesting birds. She is currently pursuing a Master of Science in the Marine Science program at Hawaii Pacific University where she studies the impact of light pollution on Hawaiian seabirds. She plans to continue her path in seabird conservation to ensure a promising future for marine birds threatened by urbanization. Jennifer is a DFP Intern with the Honolulu Refuges and Monuments Office in Honolulu, Hawai’i.

Jessica Sattler

  woman in forest Jessica graduated from Michigan State University with a Bachelor of Zoology and a minor in Cognitive Science. She is currently attending graduate school with Miami University, pursing her Masters of Arts in Biology through the Project Dragonfly Advanced Inquiry Program. She is passionate about conservation, and all of the ways we can help our planet. Jessica is a DFP Intern with the Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office in Carlsbad, California.

Kaitlyn Landfeld

   woman holding up bag of waterKaitlyn is earning a Masters’ degree in Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Prior to her graduate studies, she received a Bachelors’ of Science in Aquatic Biology from the University of California, Santa Barbara. She has worked extensively in coral reef and kelp forest ecosystems doing research focused on community ecology and nutrient dynamics. Kaitlyn is a DFP Intern with the Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office in Carlsbad, California.

Laura Gombar

  woman in front of treeLaura is in her fourth year at the University of Guam where she is pursuing a BS degree in Biology. From a young age she has been aware of the introduction of invasive species in Guam, which have caused many of the island’s native species to become critically endangered or extirpated.  She has conducted research through the National Science Foundation related to the phenology of native flora and watershed restoration and coral construction using DNA sequences. Laura is a DFP Intern with the Ecological Services Marianas Field Office in Hagatna, Guam.

Lea Crisostomo

   woman wearing ballcap on beach   Lea is a student at Washington State University (WSU) pursuing an undergraduate degree in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, and a minor in Forestry. She works as an animal care worker for the WSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital and is currently an undergraduate teaching assistant. Lea is an active member of WSU’s student chapter of The Wildlife Society and is also a group leader of the Wildlife Tracking Club. Born and raised on the Island of Oahu, one of her main goals is to give back to her island community by gaining experience in invasive species ecology and management. Lea is a DFP Intern with the Sacramento Regional Office in Sacramento, California.



Liliana Calderon

   woman in pink jacket in front of icy waterLiliana, a Latina from Chicago with Mexican roots, acquired her undergraduate degree in Integrative Biology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She has participated in various field jobs across the western hemisphere, and is currently working on her Master's degree in Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware. Her Master's project is focused on the stopover ecology of long-distance migratory birds that cross the Gulf of Mexico during spring and autumn migration. Liliana is a DFP Intern with the Portland Regional Office in Portland, Oregon.



Madison Mcgoarty

   woman smiling in front of waterMadison is currently pursuing a bachelor's degree in wildlife ecology and conservation at the University of Florida. She is fascinated by a plethora of research questions related to wildlife ecology, wetland conservation, and herpetology, which has transformed into research opportunities with the Santa Fe River Turtle project in Florida analyzing reptile isotopes and in the U.S. Virgin Islands studying coral reef and mangrove community resilience to climate change. She uses her Hawaiian indigenous knowledge with her formal education as tools to analyze and conceptualize the natural world around her. Madison is a DFP Intern with the Moapa Valley National Wildlife Refuge in Moapa, Nevada.



My Nguyen

   woman n jacket in front of waterMy earned her B.S. in Ecology, Behavior, and Evolution at University of California, Los Angeles, where she published a paper on marine invertebrate cognition and risk classification. She  also participated in research projects investigating the effects of climate change on wetland systems in California and coral reef systems in French Polynesia. She is currently earning an M.S. in Environmental Science and Policy at Johns Hopkins. In addition to improving and rehabilitating public lands with the AmeriCorps conservation corps, she has served as the Program Coordinator for the Keeler Dunes Dust Mitigation Project to help decrease air pollution impacts and reestablish native sand dune vegetation. My is a DFP Intern with the Sacramento Regional Office in Sacramento, California.



Samantha Betances

  selfie of woman in front of snowy hill Sam graduated in 2014 from Purdue University with a B.S. in Fisheries and Aquatic Science and a minor in Wildlife Science. After her undergraduate studies, she worked for two and half years as a National Marine Fisheries Service Groundfish Observer in the Bering Sea of Alaska monitoring commercial fisheries catch. Sam is currently a master’s student in the Fisheries and Wildlife Department at Michigan State University working with the Aquatic Landscape Ecology Lab. Her thesis focuses on how stream habitat features might change with changing climate. Sam is a DFP Intern with the Makah National Fish Hatchery in Clallam Bay, Washington.



Samantha Hermann

woman in cap and gown   Samantha began her journey toward becoming a conservation social scientist with a Bachelor’s degree in marine science. From there she continued on her educational journey to obtain two master’s degrees one in Environmental Science and one in Public Administration. She believes the best way to conserve animals and ecosystems is to provide a robust emotional connect between places and the public. She often says through good education comes appreciation and conservation. Samantha is a DFP Intern with Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge in Maui, Hawai’i.


Sandra Zepeda

   smiling woman in blue shirtSandra served as an Americorps volunteer where she had the opportunity to work on ecological restoration projects throughout the San Bernardino National Forest; an area with biodiverse chaparral and desert ecosystems. While attending Victor Valley College in 2019, she had the chance to conduct native plant research for the Seeds of Success program overseen by the Bureau of Land Management. She focused on propagating the desert species creosote bush and sixweeks grama for field planting and seed collection in a nursery setting. These experiences led her to discover  her passion for plant conservation and she decided to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Botany at Humboldt State University where she is currently a student. Sandra is a DFP Intern at Headquarters in Falls Church, Virginia.



Sasha Azeez

   woman with long dark hair Sasha graduated from the University at Buffalo with a B.S in Environmental Studies. While in college, she sought to connect people and nature as a Community Service Organizer for Alpha Phi Omega, President of the Gardening Club, and a Delegate of Students for Sustainability. Sasha is currently an Environmental Education and Urban Outreach Intern with the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge in Basom, New York.

Selena Flores

   woman smiles down at wildlife she holdsSelena received her BS from San Diego State University. In addition to teaching biology, rehabilitating seabirds and working with well- known natural history museums, she has worked on wildlife rescue and on conservation projects in South Africa. Selena is now conducting postgraduate research examining the effects of tourism on shorebirds along South Africa’s Garden Route with a focus on developing and evaluating conservation interventions as well as balancing human activity and environmental protection. A strong advocate for communications between stakeholders, she aspires to a liaison role to help ensure conservation measures remain effective. Selena is a DFP Intern with Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge near Honolulu, Hawai’i.



Steven Ochoa

   headshot of man with glassesSteven graduated from California State University, Northridge with a


B.A. in Sociology. Born and raised in Los Angeles, he is a first generation Mexican American driven by a passion to help his community, most recently as a community liaison for the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. Growing up in the urban metropolis, he has seen first-hand the disconnection between inner cities and green spaces. His goal is to inspire his community to take ownership of their public lands. Steven is currently the Visitor Services and Urban Partnership Intern at Silvio O. Conte National Wildlife Refuge in Brunswick, Vermont.

Taylor Curtis

woman with long light  hair smiles for camera   Taylor is a 4th year student at the University of California, Santa Barbara majoring both Environmental Studies and Ecology as well as Evolution Biology. She is a part of a research team at the Cheadle  Center for Biodiversity and Ecological Restoration that is studying native bee populations. Their projects include meta-barcoding pollen to understand the diet of local bees and baseline monitoring of bees. Additionally, she led a team of volunteers on a campus project to assess the effect of managed landscapes on bee populations. Taylor is a DFP Intern at the Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office in Carlsbad, California.

Terrah Owens

  woman wearing headlamp Terrah graduated from Humboldt State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Zoology in 2009. After graduating, she worked as a field biologist for the Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Geological Survey, the University of California at Davis, as well as several private consulting firms. She has experience surveying and monitoring threatened, endangered, and sensitive species such as northern spotted owl, fisher, marten, and greater sage-grouse. Currently, she is pursuing her PhD in Rangeland Ecology and Management at Oregon State University researching the effects of wildfire and avian predator densities on greater sage-grouse movement  and space use in eastern Oregon. Terrah is a DFP Intern at the La Grande Field Office in La Grande, Oregon.


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