As the United States progresses, expansion of different departments rises on the priority list. Refuges across the nation are beginning to reach out to the community around them, educating people about the importance of conservation. In order to interact with the general public, the refuge participates in outreach events where refuge employees attend particular community events to inform visitors about the refuge system, our mission, and programs we provide for the public. Over the summer, I was assigned Visitor Service position at Patuxent Research Refuge. My position entailed creating and implementing programs for children and adults, educating them about the environment and what we can do to preserve it. I was assigned an event at the Aquatic Gardens in Washington D.C. during the Lotus Blossom Festival. During the day of the festival the sun shone on the dew of the grass and the gardens looked greener than usual due to the light rain early in the morning. The lotuses and water lilies on the wetland grew tall and large, with intricate, colorful flowers blooming in an unimaginable fashion, representing the awe of nature’s beauty.
Our table includes a blue board with pictures to represents different activities and wildlife on the refuge. Then we set out the pelts and the otter mount to attract visitors. I began by observing the first few visitors, showing interest in the set up, but hesitating to approach us. After a few hesitant groups walked by, I started to stand farther away from the table and said “Hi, how are you?” to anyone who passed, even though I knew they were great if they were at this lovely festival on a bright day. Nevertheless, my technique lured more people to the table where they could touch the items we had, while listening about the general characteristics and behavior of the animal. As the kids continued touching the items, I enlightened the parents about the refuge system, Patuxent Research Refuge, and educational opportunities we provide for the public. This technique allowed me to share a little bit about wildlife, and provide insight to the variety of activities of interest many do not know about. The most surprising fact was that much of the public does not know that refuges exist. Hopefully, through the urban refuge initiative more people will discover the wonders that a refuge has to offer all around the country. By reaching out to people living in inner cities, we can permeate interests in conservation and sustainable actions.