Unexpected Adventures

Luna Moth
Photo: Kayla V.

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. These are my unexpected adventures!


My days off consist of prepping for programs, volunteering, and hiking with new friends. I’ve learned that programs require a lot of prep, so usually I go into work on my days off to perfect them. Even if programs are scheduled on my days off, I always have to prepare myself mentally to make for a great program, which is very important to me. This has allowed me to coordinate wonderful and exciting programs.


Since coming in on my days off, I have also gotten to meet and speak with other refuge employees and have even been invited to dinners and lunches. On some of my days off I will go to Cypress Creek to do water bird surveys, to the Cache River Wetlands to do frog/toad surveys, helping out other environmental education organizations, or working with the pollinator group here at the refuge. I have a blast every time I volunteer to survey. Through these surveys, I have made connections with other people in other fields. It turns out quite a lot of people know quite a lot of other people! Volunteering has been my favorite way of making connections.


Due to programs, I’ve also made connections with the “Friends of Crab Orchard” group. I have been invited by Friends for lunches and dinners, been on hikes with some of them, housesat for them, and even bought a kayak from a Friends Member. Friends members have been absolutely vital to the success of our public and private programs. Because of this I feel honored to know all of these experienced people. Most of which have been retired doctors, nurses, science teachers. There are even some Master Naturalists in the Friends group. I’ve also met people through some of the programs that I set up or lead. I met a friend (an actual friend of mine) through my wildflower hike, who then took me to the local fish hatchery and I got to meet some more state employees. I also met a friend who took me mothing for the first time.


This internship has really opened me up to new experiences and in return, I receive lots of friendships and knowledge.

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