Outreach Assistant, Northeast Region Headquarters, Hadley, Massachusetts
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
 
How Christopher J. Poulin got involved with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
As a soon-to-be college graduate in the summer of 2010, I met the woman who would end up being my supervisor for a wonderful and challenging seven month term of service with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service, at the time I was dripping wet and standing on a public boat dock in Western Massachusetts. Having worked as naturalist and outdoor adventure guide for the last six years, dripping wet and/or some combination of muddy, mosquito-bitten and smelling of camp like fire were pretty common states for me to be in. That particular day I had just returned from an afternoon of paddling and primitive fire making with a group of local school children – amongst which were the son and daughter of Terri, the aforementioned supervisor. After returning her children, talking about our day on the water and showing off a deer skull that her daughter had found in the woods I noticed that Terri was still wearing her Fish and Wildlife service badge on a lanyard around her neck. I then, with the impulsiveness of a college senior looking for work, asked her for a job. After several months, a few e-mails and a monumental stack of paperwork I was working as a STEP (Student temporary employment program) intern and doing the last job I had every dreamed of doing in the last place I had ever expected to be: Journalism and outreach in the Northeast Regional office of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
 
Experience
A few weeks into my internship I realized that I wasn’t actually giving up my adventurous, muddy, mosquito bitten lifestyle. Over the course of my internship I climbed mountains, waded through rivers, helped catch and study endangered birds, stocked Atlantic salmon and even interviewed someone while inside an alligator pen. The most memorable experience of them all though was one breathtakingly beautiful morning on top of Mount Mansfield in Vermont. I was working with some biologists who were running a catch and release program to monitor a population of Bicknell’s thrush, an endangered migratory bird. Looking out over the landscape I was struck with an overwhelming sense of serenity – a welcome reminder of why I have chosen to pursue a career path that allows me to share my love for the natural world.
 
Christopher J. Poulin's accomplishments
During my internship I learned how to operate professional camera equipment, work as a videographer by shooting and editing my own video, conduct interviews, produce web articles and edit websites. Drawing on my experience of directing outdoor adventure programs I also worked as the liaison between 30 conservation internship students and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s Northeast Regional office. My primary duties as a liaison were to help manage the distribution of media equipment to the internship field stations, assist the interns in producing media products that showcased their summer experience and help keep an eye on the students overall well being. During my term I also helped design two new websites for the Northeast Regional homepage designed to help connect people with nature and educate students on the internship opportunities available to them through the Fish and Wildlife Service. On a more personal note, having never worked in an office before, I was able to expand my professional comfort zone. I have found that I am most at ease when working directly with the public and although through my work I have gained a new love for writing, I hope to eventually find a career in environmental education and interpretation. I realize now that my true passion is in connecting people with the natural world and helping them develop a sense of stewardship for their own environment.
 
Christopher J. Poulin's next steps
My current plan is to use my professional background and my recently acquired undergraduate degree to get a visitor services position with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. My ideal job would have me working as either a nature interpreter at a national wildlife refuge visitor center or a park ranger. In the meantime I will be volunteering my time at the Silvio O’ Conte National Wildlife Refuge in order to gain more hands-on experience in my chosen field.
 
Hometown: Hatifled, Massachusetts
School: Unity College
Major: Wildlife Conservation