Skip Navigation

Jumping in to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 

Danielle Costantini
The amazing thing about fishing it that, with a little bit of patience and perseverance, almost anybody can do it. This was brightly on display earlier this summer, as nearly 1,500 people attended the I’m Hooked, “Making a Reel Difference” event at Henry Hagg Lake June 1st and 2nd, and most didn’t leave empty handed.
It was a busy day guiding guests, many of them children, through all the aspects of angling. It was also my fourth official day on the job after I arrived in Portland, Oregon, from my home in North Carolina on Tuesday and started my 11-week Directorate Fellowship with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.


This summer I am working for the Pacific Region Fish and Aquatic Conservation Program. Here, I am developing communications and outreach products for critical issues like Pacific lamprey, aquatic invasive species, and habitat restoration. But what better way to learn about the community I am living and working in than jumping in and actually meeting them firsthand? 

Directorate Fellow Danielle showing participants at the tote-bag station a beaver pelt. Credit: Sean Connolly/USFWS


To kick off the start of the 2019 National Fishing and Boating week, I headed out to Hagg Lake to help with the I’m Hooked event. While there I learned about the Service’s Urban Wildlife Conservation Program, and their efforts to connect urban audiences with area National Wildlife Refuges and natural resources. A co-sponsor of the event for the past five years, the USFWS team went all out with the colorful ‘Get Kids into Nature” trailer and three stations of activities.


It was not only an educational experience for the kids and adults in attendance, but for me as well. I’m not an angler, nor am I familiar with habitat and species on the West Coast. But when I engaged with visitors, like as they colored fish-themed reusable totes at a rest station, I had the opportunity to learn from their personal experiences in the outdoors and share my own knowledge about conservation. 


At another station, I had the chance to learn about Pacific salmon, which are apparently a Big Deal out here; I had no idea how significant salmon are and how concerned many people are about the health of their populations. Through the interactive and hands-on salmon migration game, I walked with families through the life cycle of salmon and learned about the challenges they face at each step of the way.

Kids going through the lifecycle of a salmon at the salmon migration game station.
Credit: Sean Connolly/USFWS
My personal favorite, however, was the casting station. After first learning how to cast a fishing line that same morning, I was then able to assist kids of all ages and skill levels to perfect their cast before leaving land. Seeing the determination on kids’ faces as they worked towards catching the ‘backyard bass’ on the lawn was inspiring, and they often quickly surpassed me in skill.


Overall, this experience -- one of my very first with both the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Portland area-- showed me how something as simple as fishing can bring the community together for a fun, and hopefully educational, experience. It set the standard high for my summer, which so far has gone swimmingly. 


Danielle Costantini is a master’s student at North Carolina State University working on her degree in natural resources. She is a part of the 2019 Directorate Fellowship Program and is spending 11 weeks in Portland, Oregon with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.


Last Updated: July 3, 2019
Return to main navigation