A woman holds a group of plants while surrounded by plants
A woman holds a group of plants while surrounded by plants
As the botany intern, Shannon was responsible for a nursery with ~4000 native plants. Here, she can be seen in a sea of willows to be planted out for habitat restoration. Marlie Perkins/USFWS

When I told my grandmother that I would be moving to Maine, she said, “Well! You do know that there are Cajuns up there, don’t you?” I, in fact, did not know that there were Cajuns in Maine, but during my 6-month term as Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge’s botany intern, I did find many connections to my home of South Louisiana.


There are only a few days left to find the perfect gift for the mother figure in your life. Why not give a gift that gives back? This Mother’s Day, show your appreciation not only to your mother but to Mother Earth by gifting pollinator-friendly flowers that return year after year.

Pollinators are animals that carry pollen from one plant to another. They are extremely important for the health of our planet, and at least 75% of plants rely on pollinators for reproduction.

a tiny bird with a long bill on a branch.
a tiny bird with a long bill on a branch.


Woman in sunglasses and a Service pol talking with a group of students in hard hats and green uniform shirts outdoors
Woman in sunglasses and a Service pol talking with a group of students in hard hats and green uniform shirts outdoors
Marilyn and students find a northern water shrew nest one summer while cutting red maples out of the impoundments at Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge.

There is a common misconception that biologists are not concerned with human connection. Marilyn Kitchell shatters this fallacy, believing that empowering others is one of our greatest conservation tools.

In a previous position at Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge in New Jersey, Kitchell designed and led programming for the Groundwork-Wallkill Connection Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnership. Through this work, she established connections with members of the Groundwork Hudson Valley Green Team, a hired group of local students from public schools in Yonkers, NY. …


two deer far out in a grassy marsh under a muted purple sunrise
two deer far out in a grassy marsh under a muted purple sunrise
An enchanting scene of a Rachel Carson NWR salt marsh at sunrise. Two white-tailed deer move through the marsh grass in the distance. Gavin Shwahla/USFWS

It’s 4:30 a.m., and I’ve already completed the hardest task of the day… getting out of bed. I pour myself a strong cup of coffee. Guessing the amount I’ll need for the day is my second biggest challenge. The purple hue of the sky that signals morning to all is in full swing. It’s 5:00 a.m., and I’m on my way to the field. The workday has begun.

That first whiff of salt marsh does more to wake me up than any amount of caffeine. By the time I’ve gotten my waders on and my gear all together, the first…


Using Nature to shore up coasts and communities from storms

Aerial photo of river with marsh and farm in background
Aerial photo of river with marsh and farm in background
Wetlands protect local communities along Maryland’s Nanticoke River. Photo by USFWS

After Hurricane Sandy mauled the Atlantic Coast in October of 2012, scientists and conservationists have been working to “strengthen” the shoreline and make it more resilient in the face of major storms. The Hurricane Sandy Coastal Resilience Program, led by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, involves countless federal and state agencies, as well as local and regional conservation groups.

Most of these coastal resilience projects are aimed at strengthening nature — restoring ecosystems that naturally withstand and recover from the inland and coastal flooding that has become more common because of rising seas, stronger storms and heavier precipitation. …


It’s always a treat to catch a glimpse of a soaring bald eagle or an osprey diving for fish. But when wildlife is out of sight, do you ever wonder where they go and what they do? Fortunately for us, wildlife can video chat too!

Well, almost.

The growing popularity of wildlife webcams allows citizens, scientists, and citizen scientists alike to drop animals a line anytime!

Answer an incoming call from…

Bald Eagles at the National Conservation Training Center in West Virginia

an eagle’s white head sticks out from a snow covered nest
an eagle’s white head sticks out from a snow covered nest


Ice, floods, drought, and invasions–and this rare plant hangs on!

The endangered plant clings by its small roots to silt-filled crevices in the steep rock outcrops along the Connecticut River. Jesup’s milk-vetch (Astragalus robbinsii var. jesupii) naturally occurs in only three locations, all along the river’s high water line between Vermont and New Hampshire.

Milk-vetches are part of the legume family, like peas and beans. With leaves comprised of many small leaflets, the Jesup’s milk-vetch has a slight resemblance to a fern. Bunches of small violet flowers bloom from these leaves in early May, followed by nearly inch-long pea-like sea pods in June.

the top of a stem covered in purple flower petals
the top of a stem covered in purple flower petals
The Jesup’s milk-vetch. Credit: Lisa Mattei, Native Plant Trust

By 1987, when the Jesup’s milk-vetch was…


Sun, sand, and shorebirds — signs of spring in the Northeast

Spit of sand in ocean with dozens of shorebirds
Spit of sand in ocean with dozens of shorebirds
Shorebirds at Cape May National Wildlife Refuge in New Jersey. Photo by USFWS

There are many telltale signs of spring’s arrival. The snow starts to melt away. Flowers bravely poke through the soil. The sun extends its curfew past 5 o’clock. Warmth and growth return after the long winter months…and so do the birds!

From Virginia to Maine, and even up to Canada, migratory shorebirds are returning from their wintering grounds in the Bahamas and the southeastern United States, as they do every spring. Piping plovers, red knots, American oystercatchers, semipalmated sandpipers, sanderlings, and least terns are a few examples of the species you might see. …


Who says there’s an age limit on playing in the mud? Former Refuge outreach coordinator, Marlie Perkins, squishes the mucky marsh peat between her fingers. Photo by Rachel Stearns/USFWS.

To evoke a sense of wonder, you must think like a child. Children are naturally curious and fascinated by the things they experience in the world. Usually, it’s because they are experiencing something for the first time. Gradually, as we get older and have repeated the same experiences, our senses begin to dull, and we become used to the way things are. This is natural and, evolutionarily, a good thing!

Either through experimentation, or by watching and learning from our caregivers, we learn that paying attention to certain things keeps us alive─ or at least saves us from an unpleasant…


This Valentine’s Day weekend, think “outside” the box and bring your sweetheart to a local national wildlife refuge!

Sharing love for the great outdoors with your significant other can be a bonding experience for both. Walking is also a great way to boost creativity, which may make conversation more engaging with that special someone you’d like to know better, or for creating new memories with someone you already know well. Don’t let recent snowfall deter your date, snow covered trails just mean you’ll have to keep each other extra warm!

John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum, Pennsylvania

Nestled in Philadelphia, PA, John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum offers more than 10 miles of trails for you…

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Northeast Region

Conserving wildlife and habitats from Maine to Virginia, New York, and Pennsylvania.

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