Nancy Fernandez got her start working in public lands through the SCA’s NPS Academy program. After graduating from the Academy in 2015, she served at various national parks throughout Oregon, Washington and Georgia, performing tasks like environmental education, youth mentorship, outdoor leadership and community outreach. Today she serves as the Urban Outreach and Volunteer Coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at the Savannah Coastal Refuges Complex. As the only bilingual park ranger for the southeast region, she is working diligently to build new relationships and connect with underserved, nontraditional, communities of color.
One of her main projects is to establish an official Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnership. As part of the Service’s Urban Wildlife Conservation Program, she is partnering with various community groups and individuals to educate and install pollinator gardens throughout the surrounding towns.
“My biggest challenge is being the only Hispanic woman of color in my workplace. I don’t have someone near doing the type of work I am. It truly feels like I am a one-woman force, trying to make connections with people and groups that have never been introduced to the flora and fauna in its most pristine state as found in the refuges. Even though I am starting from “scratch” and I feel overwhelmed at times, the passion I have for this type of work is what keeps me moving forward.
“My experience living in various parts of the country working in the conservation field with people of all backgrounds and cultures has really provided a unique insight as to how people in this field do conservation work differently depending on what part of the country they are in and what agency/organization they are representing. Now that I am working with USFWS in the south, I have found myself educating my coworkers as to how to engage with people of color. Sometimes the way to engage these groups is by doing outreach differently. I use non-traditional methods to engage non-traditional groups.”
Nancy is a member of the 2017 Emerging Leaders Program.