Learning New Somethings: CONWR

CONWR Archery Program
Photo: Monty Tyner

Hello Everyone,

My name is Olivia Barragan Velasquez! I am a Visitor Services/Environmental Education intern at Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge in Marion, IL. Here are my new somethings:

Wildland Firefighting

I’ve been in Customer/Visitor Services for 10 years. I am good at my job, I am passionate, and I am a hard worker. I’ve worked many different jobs. I know my strengths and weaknesses. But not once in my life did I ever think I would be introduced into the world of wildland firefighting. I showed interest and the fire manager was quick to give me the training. Unfortunately, I have not been able to complete my training because of the high volume of visitors now that it’s warming up for spring. I am on my final course which is the longest. So far I have learned about high risk work environments, concepts of wildfire behavior, primary fire environmental components, and how fuels, weather, and topography affect fire. My interest begins to grow now that the team is out burning, but in the meantime, I have learned a lot about myself and a new work environment.

Other Lessons

I love working. Once I get past the training stage, I always feel better now that I’ve gotten the hang of things. I feel more confident and comfortable. This internship has thrown me lots of challenges. I love challenges, but I become overwhelmed very easily. I’ve learned that in order to keep myself engaged in my work, I need to prioritize, make lists, and write things down. I have learned that I need to ask for help even when people seem busy to me. I’ve learned that communication is key. When I am struggling, it’s okay to ask for help. I’ve learned to make decisions and not second guess myself. I’ve learned that although I am uncomfortable with facilitating programs, I can “fake it till I make it”. If I fake my enthusiasm, it might actually affect the group. And if it affects the group, it will affect me. All I want is to give people the best learning experience that they can get. During an archery program, I worked one-on-one with a young girl about 13 years old. Working together helped her become excited about launching the arrow further and more accurately. The program ended, and the girl gave me a hug. The mother came up to me and thanked me for working with her daughter who happened to be on the autism spectrum. That was when I learned that I love working one-on-one with people.


I’ve learned that we are all in this together. People strive to learn things. We strive to keep them curious and learning. Every day I am learning something new about myself or about the world.

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