Goodbye- For Now! – Samantha Ayala

I can’t believe the conference is here already! The summer has truly flown by so fast, it’s almost sad to think about the fact that my time at my park is coming to an end. Thankfully, I live within driving distance of Fire Island and am already looking forward to volunteering in between school breaks and continuing to stay in contact with all of the lovely people I’ve met at my park.

One thing I did recently that I’m really excited with was our Latino Conservation Week video, featuring myself and former LHIP intern and current Park Ranger, Roxana Saravia. Roxana and I discussed our introductions to the National Park Service as well as what Latino Conservation Week means to us. It was really exciting to create this video and have it supplement my social media takeover as a way to inform more people about Latino Conservation Week and it’s importance from two Latinas firsthand. I feel so honored to have gotten a chance this summer to see what it’s like to be a part of the National Park Service and to see that people like myself can be involved in it. I also could not be more grateful for the people I was lucky enough to work with who made everyday so exciting and taught me new information with every interaction.

Taking a photo at one of Watch Hill’s new selfie stations, a monarch butterfly/pollinator exhibit.

On a personal note, I’ve dealt with a couple of hard things this summer, like the passing of a loved one and health issues within my family. I really experienced firsthand how beneficial nature is to ones mental and emotional health, because in the midst of all of these emotionally straining personal events, work at my park never failed to put a smile on my face and to make me feel like the day was worth living through. I can honestly say that my time this summer was something that kept me afloat during hard times. It doesn’t hurt that the place I work is absolutely stunning.

Oh! One last thing- I spent a lot of my internship telling everyone who would listen how badly I wanted to see a whale. And guess what? I saw two! It was the most breathtaking thing to witness, and I can’t comprehend that something so large and graceful exists so close to where I live- it’s like we’re neighbors! I also had the loveliest chance to see dolphins again, alongside my family who joined me on a program recently.

A photo at the Full Moon Breach Hike in July with a horseshoe crab.

I’m so fortunate to have had this experience and to teach others around me, like my family, about this beautiful and special place we have so close to us. Fire Island will always hold a special place in my heart, and I can’t wait to continue being involved with the park.

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