Making the Big Trip Across the USA

My internship with the CLM program is beginning to come to an end. I have had great experiences out in Nevada that will help prepare me for the next step in my career. I have met some amazing people who have turned out to be good friends and I plan on keeping in touch with them even after we’re separated by time and distance.

My original interest in the CLM program was sparked by many of the benefits listed on their web site and I can confidently say that I did receive the benefits that I was so enticed by in the beginning of this journey. I have learned about working at a federal agency, my resume has expanded, I was able to explore new habitats and landscapes more intimately then I first even imagined, and I felt proud to be working in the environmental sector soon after graduation. My 7 months with the CLM has been quite the adventure.

So now it’s time to start packing up my things and saying my goodbyes. I’m excited to go back home and be close to friends and family for the holidays but I have a feeling I’ll always feel a pang of nostalgia when I think of my time spent out west.

Adios! Farewell! Ciao! I bid you all adieu!

Far From Home

My time spent in Nevada has been divided by many different activities. Each week doing field work includes new adventures and learning experiences. I’ve spent a lot of time collecting native seed, monitoring field sites, engaging in fire rehabilitation projects, enjoying time working with the other interns in my group, and learning invaluable lessons from my mentor.

When monitoring a field site we are usually looking for species of concern or special status species as well as documenting all the species found at the site. We collect data that helps us determine the density and frequency that a plant species can be found occupying the area. We also test the soil in the area to get an idea of its properties and stability. Lately we’ve been monitoring sites that have suffered from fires and have been either seeded with natives or have been left to regenerate plant life on their own according to natural processes of dispersal and the fight against competition for resources.

When we’re not busy collecting seed or data, or after a long day of work it’s always rewarding to take a minute and break away from the routine and take a look around and absorb the natural beauty of the lands I’ve had the opportunity to work in. It becomes hard to be overwhelmed with the stresses of life, work, missing home and loved ones, or whatever the case my be when you stop and chew on the idea that I’m extremely lucky to be getting paid to do work I truly enjoy in an area most people will never get to visit.


Travels And Experiences

In the past few months I’ve been busy visiting several places and taking part in plenty of different activities. Recently we had the Conservation and Land Management Workshop at the Chicago Botanic Gardens in Chicago, IL. I had a great time meeting other interns and CBG Staff (my bosses), and exploring the gardens as well as the City on some of my own spare time.

During the workshop we had a few crash courses in plant identification, population genetics, and approaches to monitoring. There was a lot of valuable information I took back to Nevada with me as well as great memories. I learned about different approaches to monitoring and how to build a work plan where the most efficient monitoring methods could be applied to answer the questions you are setting out to uncover.  I was also impressed by the diversity of the entire intern group the CBG had recruited to take part in the CLM internship program. There were people from mostly scientific backgrounds but everyone was very unique and had different qualities to offer.

I was particularly interested when my mentor gave an Ethno botany talk about the many uses of plants as food, medicine, fiber, and regular products used in everyday life. As someone deeply interested in plants I found this talk inspirational and will share with you something Dean Tonenna shared with the group that night. He explained that all of the information passed on through the generations of native people about the natural world can sometimes seem lost but is really still out there sleeping, waiting for someone to take the initiative and look closely at the natural world around us and awaken that deeper knowledge. I liked this and not just in a cultural sense where one could delve into nature to find their roots but as a lesson to everyone that there are a lot of secrets we still have yet to uncover about the natural world. I feel like the talk instilled a sense of adventure and wonder that I try to take out into the field with me when I’m at work.


A Different Perspective

I traveled over 3,000 miles to get to Carson City, Nevada. Once here, I found out the surrounding lands were very different from what I originally imagined it would be like.

This internship proved to provide me with multiple opportunities to expand and grow though my experiences. The Drive across the nation was one of the most amazing journeys I took. I drove out with my two best friends Doug and Lady, the dog I rescued in high school. All of us were on a limited budget, we had with no reservations and only vague ideas of national parks and general destinations we wanted to camp at and visit. I felt a little like Kerouac embarking on the ultimate adventure, a right of passage almost.

Since I began my internship I’ve met great people and have been able to participate in various projects. Our team of nine interns accomplished a great task of planting 21,000 Bitterbrush seedlings as a fire restoration project. Although the work was challenging we made each day entertaining and unique. While we were busy helping establish the bitterbrush seedlings into their new homes I was able to begin to become introduced to the plants of the west. I became familiar with the landscape and as time went on and we took on monitoring, and conservation projects I found myself adjusting to life out west.

I still have a lot to learn so off I am on another busy work week in Carson City, Nevada.