The WiRED Experience: Matthew Francis
On May 25th, I received a call telling me that I had received an internship in west Tennessee and had a week to prepare myself for the exodus. I quit the job I received an hour before the call, canceled my hiking trip on Enchanted Rock, sold my Astros versus Yankees baseball ticket, and called Uncle Mark to say I was not coming to the farm in Crockett. I consider this opportunity important enough to drop all my prior plans, drive thirteen hours, and start a new life entirely.
Despite the oddity of a student with a Geology major and an Education minor working at a wildlife refuge, I would have to say the experiences I have gained here can be applied to just about any job for the Department of the Interior or used to learn from for any work. I have received training and certification from the Department of the Interior for driving an ATV/UTV for the US Fish and Wildlife Service, as well as operating other machinery, tools, and vehicles. Also, there are certain tasks which fall directly in the field that I am pursuing. For instance, one week I worked together with an archeologist on an excavation which required us to identify the varying levels of cultural residue, breaks in the layers of the soil, and operate a screening board.
Most of the internship involves work outdoors, such as restoring the integrity of various structures, obtaining information on the waterfowl and songbird species during banding events, aggressively managing the ecology and biology of the refuge, and various other activities that occur sporadically. The job tests for endurance, flexibility, and professionalism which are all traits that employers seek in all they’re employees. I can say from my personal opinion that all the employees and volunteers who work to better this refuge are the embodiment of those qualities. I have learned from Heavy Machinery Operators the ins and outs of various things ranging from the operation of constructing a concrete spillway to what there is to do in the local area in terms of diversions. I have learned from Managers the necessities to put on a resume, how to properly answer questions on USAJobs, and the virtue of paperwork in the long run. Lastly, I have learned the necessity of people skills from just about every single person I meet.
Once someone told me that if I want to do something and if I can do that something, I had better speak up and do it. My fatal flaw is my shyness, which I figure can only be solved by participating in these drastically different activities. This internship is a leap of faith, a sort of shock therapy, and an anthropological journey for me. Though that may sound odd, this internship is a personal trial as much a professional one. I believe that is the most important thing I will take away from this memory.
– Matthew Francis, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Intern