By Hazel Rodriguez, public affairs specialist
I recently sat down (virtually) with one of our newest administrative assistants, Maria Carrillo. Maria keeps our ship sailing even through unpredictable winds. She shares her journey through federal employment, her conservation heroes, and, she even spills the beans on some of her hidden talents.
Hazel Rodriguez: Can you tell us how you found yourself working for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service?
Maria Carrillo: I came to the Fish and Wildlife Service after years working permanent and seasonal positions with national parks and national forests. I had a lot of experience working with the public and wanted to be more involved “behind-the-scenes.” My career started as a park guide at Mount St. Helens with the U.S. Forest Service, and I absolutely love volcanoes!
HR: Sounds like you spent quite a bit of time on West Coast. Where did you grow up?
MC: I’m a California native! I went to California State University, Fullerton for both my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in anthropology.
HR: Do you have any conservation heroes?
MC: I have many conservation heroes—the people that go to work every day protecting our public lands. Jim Quiring, who was the visitor director at Mount St. Helens, remains my friend and mentor. I think of him like the John Denver of naturalist interpretation.
HR: Those are my favorites: everyday conservation heroes! Do you have a particular interest in any of the species we work to protect?
MC: I currently have a fascination with the California tiger salamander. Amphibians seem to have superpowers for me, living in water and on land.
HR: They do have best of both worlds, and I can definitely see myself as an amphibian. Okay back to the questions; is there a project that you are proud to be a part of?
MC: I love stewardship overall, but I was particularly proud when data I collected helped protect a tiny little habitat for cactus wren in Crystal Cove State Park. It was definitely a highlight.
HR: Whoa Maria, that is something to be very proud of! Do you have any cool hobbies?
MC: I love to dance, particularly hula, and I can sometimes be found in an outrigger canoe. My hula group has been “Zooming” classes during the COVID-19 crisis, and I am so grateful to use modern technology to keep up with this ancient practice.
HR: Maria you have some rad hobbies, and I might ask for a lesson through Zoom. Any hidden talents you want to share with us?
MC: My hidden talent is poetry—although now it’s not so hidden.
Maria Carillo is an administrative assistant working for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Ventura. Maria collaborates with biologists and project partners to ensure materials supporting the Endangered Species Act are delivered with timeliness and accuracy.