In college, I worked for a summer reintroducing endangered peregrine falcons to the wild and it was that incredible time working with a species on the brink of extinction that made me realize I wanted to dedicate my life to saving wildlife. That summer was the catalyst for the academic path I pursued and the amazing career in conservation I have enjoyed for decades.
Today, building future generations of conservationists who are equally passionate about wildlife is both important and significant to me. Without more of us working to protect species at risk of extinction, imperiled wildlife don’t stand a chance against the very real and escalating threats, like habitat loss, climate change, overexploitation, invasive species etc. they face.
Defenders of Wildlife’s paid internship is just one way we help bring about that change. We created a pipeline into conservation careers for students, especially those from underrepresented communities who otherwise may not be unable to afford to take an unpaid summer internship to gain professional experience, both in conservation and in our organization. We hope this will plant the seeds for those students to consider a career in wildlife conservation. “You can’t be what you can’t see,” as Marian Wright Edelman so wisely said.
Defenders’ summer interns come to us from a diverse array of academic institutions located across the United States. Working alongside our amazing wildlife scientists, conservationists and policy experts, Defenders’ interns gain valuable and practical knowledge in areas such as policy, science and communications. And, importantly, they are building a network that will help support them for years to come.
The hard work young conservationists put in now will serve them well throughout their careers. Wildlife conservation is definitely a long game. It’s about putting in the effort for things that matter, day after day and year after year, and one day seeing that work take flight – much like the peregrine falcon.
To the next generation of wildlife conservationists, be bold. Be passionate stewards of our planet. Be your authentic self. Your hard work, intellect and activism are what’s going to change the status quo of wildlife conservation and save species that otherwise would be lost forever.