Farewell from the Land of Enchantment

A little more than eight months ago now, I packed up all my things in the back of my Ford pick-up truck and headed cross country from Maine to New Mexico. I had no idea what would be in store for me there or any idea of what New Mexico was like… all I knew was that I was traveling West for a position within the Bureau of Land Management as a CLM intern! Fast forward those eight months and I am so glad that I was willing to take that leap into the unknown, especially as a recent marine science graduate taking a position in the desert. Now looking back after completing my eight month internship, I can now see all of the benefits of this experience.

One major benefit of being a CLM intern is the opportunity to challenge yourself in more ways than one. I was able to challenge myself personally and professionally. Personally, moving cross country and establishing yourself in an area where everything is new to you and you know no one was a challenge, however, I was able to meet that challenge head on and I know that I have grown as a person from that experience. Professionally, this was my first opportunity to work within a federal agency yet with any position there is the challenge to do the best that you can do. Over my internship I did just that and worked very hard and challenged myself to do the best job that I could do, and as a result not only did I gain more experience, but I also made great connections with my co-workers and supervisors.

Another major benefit of being a CLM intern is the experiences and new skills that you gain.  As I mentioned previously, I graduated with a degree in marine science so as you can image when I received an internship position working as a range technician, I learned and gained a whole new set of skills. Although it may seem odd, the skills that I gained through this experience will help me in the future whether my path be in marine science or rangeland science because the skills that I gained can be applied in many different biological fields. I gained skills and experience in: a variety of monitoring methods, GIS, NEPA documents, data entry, and many more! These new skills and experiences will help me achieve my career goals.

One last benefit that I will mention, granted there are many more, is the ability to make connections with people in your field office both professionally and personally. After eight months of working with numerous people in the office, I entered as an unknown intern from Maine and leave as a co-worker and friend! My relationships with the people in the office made this experience even better. I want a chance to thank everyone at the Roswell Field Office for making me feel as part of the team! Honestly, everyone at the field office went out of their way to make me feel comfortable and a part of the group. I learned something from everyone there. Thank you again!

One last thing before I wrap this last blog entry up is a little advice for any person who is contemplating to apply for the CLM program… my advice is DO IT! You will honestly not regret in joining this program. This program is amazing! In this program you will gain experience, skills, and connections!

And last but definitely not least, I want to thank all of the people who make the CLM program possible! From the application process to completing the internship, this program has made the journey easy! The steps to apply and the steps to take during the internship have been laid out for you and are very easy to follow and for that alone I thank you! On top of that, everyone in the staff who I have had the opportunity to meet or speak with has been knowledgeable, helpful, and extremely nice! Thank you very much for this opportunity to be a part of the CLM internship program!

This was an experience that I will never forget… Thank you!

Stephanie Burkhardt

Roswell Field Office

Treasure Hunting BLM Style

As I sit down to write my second to last blog I cannot help but to reminiscence about my experience here in Roswell for the last seven months; however,  I will write more about that in my next blog which will also be regrettably my last. But for now, here is my second to last entry.
With only a couple of weeks left at the Roswell Field Office, I am still exploring and learning from every section of the office. This week in particular I am getting to work with the Archaeology section! When one of the Archaeologists on staff asked if I would be willing to survey for ancient artifacts I of course said yes! So today we headed out east of town to an area where a pipeline is being planned. Archaeologists for the BLM not only survey certain sites where there is known and/or could possibly be artifacts but also any area where the surface is going to be disturbed. We walked in total about 6 miles up and down the sand dunes on each side of the proposed pipeline looking for any evidence of historic value. I was so excited to help that I probably asked about a half dozen times if this rock or piece of metal was of any importance, which unfortunately they weren’t, but they told me to keep it up and that I was getting closer. Then finally after we had completed about three-quarters of the loop I found something and it was a confirmed Isolated Manifestation or IM as the archaeologist call it! I was so excited to have found something of historic value, which is something that is 50 years or older for the BLM!!! Although that was the only historically valued item we found along the pipeline, she took us out to an already discovered site just a little north of where we were and there we got to see a wide variety of pottery and tools!!! And although we did not find much today, we are going to have the chance in the next couple of days to hopefully find some more!


-Stephanie Burkhardt

Roswell Field Office

RFO’s Public Lands

As our numbers of interns have dwindled over the past few months, with most of the interns returning back to school, we are now down officially to two. The last two standing are both CLM interns and we are working as one well oiled machine! As I have been at the Roswell Field Office for over 6 months and Jaci has been here over 5 months, we both have a very good idea of what we need to do. We have seen and learned the full process of the monitoring aspect of range. We can now independently perform all of the different types of monitoring needed at the field office, process and enter our results into the database, and write the corresponding NEPA documentation needed for that allotment. I now fully comprehend the work that I do and why it is needed. The reason I say this is because when I first began my internship I learned the monitoring techniques and the plant species, which was no small task, but I focused most of my attention on learning this first step. After this step, I learned how to analyze and enter our results into the database; consequently, increasing my understanding of why the BLM needs to monitor and obtain certain data. Then recently, I have begun writing the NEPA documentation for the field data that we have collected and entered and this is the step where it all clicked. I have now completed the process and now I truly understand why monitoring is such a vital part of the BLM. And this process is never ending as the Roswell Field Office alone manages 1,490,000 acres of public land. All of those 1,490,000 acres needs management which for the most part includes a certain type of monitoring and that is just the first step in the process. I understand what a huge task the Roswell Field Office takes on, and that this is just one field office within one state of all of the BLM. The task to properly manage all of the public lands is a colossal task but it is a crucial one. I am very thankful for all of the people who work hard to not only maintain our public lands but who fight for access to these lands so that everyone can enjoy them. Here are some pictures of the beautiful public lands managed by the Roswell Field Office!

Journey to the Center of the Earth

In the past five months I have been exposed to and have experienced many different aspects of the Bureau of Land Management ranging from rangeland to wildlife… and recently I had the opportunity to experience an aspect of the BLM which I had not experienced yet… recreation! Although I do think that the recreation section of the BLM is wonderful, I was very excited because we were going to be working with the section that involves… CAVES!!! So, when our caving specialist asked a few weeks ago if we would be interested in going on a caving expedition with him, we all nodded our heads feverishly and anxiously replied yes! To start out the expedition, we prepared our caving outfits, which included: full body suites, knee pads, elbow pads, helmets, and head lamps. These outfits were very important as he explained because of the epidemic of the White Nose Syndrome that has been witnessed throughout the West. White Nose Syndrome is a fatal disease that has caused the death of millions of bats in North America; therefore, our caving outfits had been specially sterilized for the expedition. After we prepared our outfits we headed out to Little Angora Cave! We got to enter the caving system from various entryways and to explore all of the tiny nooks and crannies of the cave which was unbelievable! We climbed and crawled until our heart’s content! We even found a roost of male bats which was exciting! But of course, we turned around and left them to their hanging around even though our disturbance would not be not be crucial as it would be during the winter season. Here are some pictures that captured our experience!

Our caving outfits!


Stephanie Burkhardt


Roswell Field Office

Moonsoon Season Was Here!

Truthfully, monsoon season had never really crossed my mind. Of course I have known about this season but in the locations where I have lived before, there is ample precipitation, so heavy rains don’t have the same effect. It is a totally different story here in Roswell!

We were warned that monsoon season had arrived, but that statement did not carry as much weight as it does now. Let’s just say, monsoon season matters here! First there were a couple of light rains, which were pleasant, but when these light rains turn into normal or heavy rain it definitely makes a difference when you are driving on the back dirt roads! We figured this out rather quickly on one of the first days of monsoon season. We were surprised when the clouds opened up and rain came down hard and fast while we were in the middle of an allotment without a compacted road within miles…. we have learned to take monsoons seriously in Roswell, and here is the picture to prove it!

Evidence that monsoon season is serious in Roswell!

-Stephanie Burkhardt


Roswell Field Office

Owls, Grasshoppers, and Aliens… Oh My!

Howdy Howdy!
I have been living in the good ol’ desert of Roswell, New Mexico now for a little over two months and the whole experience (my position within the BLM and my newer Western location) is getting even better! As for the BLM portion, the whole gang is finally here now (as the two last interns arrived a couple of weeks ago) and so we are well underway! We are a self-sufficient team that can choose, prepare, and complete range health assessments (RHAs), perform 1, 2, or 3 line monitoring along with annual production, and all the while fill out compliance checks! It is very rewarding to be able to perform the tasks that are needed! Our week consists mostly of going into the field and performing the tasks listed above which is always fun because you can never guess what is going to happen which makes every day interesting! Since my last post so many things have happened that it would be difficult to tell you all of them so instead I figured I would just show you some of the moments and experiences I captured by means of pictures!

A Great Horned Owl we saw in the field!


A grasshopper on Thistle!

Dove eggs we found underneath some Choia!

As for the daily living in Roswell, it is going splendid! This last weekend was one to remember, as it was the annual UFO Festival!!! It was great, Kelder (CLM intern from Carlsbad) came up and joined in the fun! On Saturday morning I ran in my first ever 5K called the Alien Chase whose profit benefited a local charity!  Then later that evening was the UFO Parade! I had heard so much about this and how festive everyone can get that we ran out to the store and bought some items to create our alien costumes! After 2 hours of alien costume preparations, we walked to the festival to find that we are the only people dressed up who are not in the parade! Although this did not bring us down, instead we had a BLAST taking pictures with people and by joining in at the end of the parade! And as promised I have attached some pictures of that too!

All three of us at the UFO Parade!!!

So overall, so far so good!!!
-Stephanie Burkhardt
BLM Roswell Office

The Mixing Pot in Roswell

Hello again!

I have now been working at the BLM here in Roswell, NM for a little over a month and still love it! The staff here at RFO is just amazing and to add to that recently a few more people were added to the mix! A couple of weeks ago, two more range interns arrived in Roswell which has made this experience even better! It is really nice to have some fellow interns along for the ride and that ride was really jump started when they arrived! Before they arrived I got a chance to experience pretty much all of the aspects of the BLM which was very interesting but it is great to get all trained up for the next seven months of work! When they first got here we got to undergo some official training, such as: CPR & AED, First Aid, Radio, H2S, GIS and GPS. We have also started training for compliance checks and traditional and post-treatment monitoring! We have gone out a couple of times now to perform compliance checks on our own which is nice! Just the other day we were out on an allotment and were exploring some of the land… We saw what looked like a natural reservoir but it was actually a large gully with a couple small caves, so we got closer to take a better look and then sure enough we found a BOBCAT!!! This was awesome… a little frightening but awesome! We also found two doves’ nests with eggs and of course a bunch of cattle that day as well! Also I have recently been going out with some of the range staff to perform post-treatment monitoring. The post-treatment monitoring more specifically is looking at the effectiveness for mesquite treatments around the Roswell area. Overall so far, being here at Roswell and working at the BLM has been a wonderful experience which I think will only get better as my internship continues and of course more interns arrive (on Monday!)!!!


Stephanie Burkhardt

BLM Roswell Office

Greetings from Roswell, New Mexico!

Hi, my name is Stephanie Burkhardt and I am a recent Marine Science graduate from Eckerd College in Saint Petersburg, Florida. I was hired by the Chicago Botanic Garden as an intern for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in Roswell, New Mexico! Now,  I know what you are thinking.  Why did a marine biologist take a position in the middle of the desert? Well… the reason I decided to take this position is because it was a new experience that would enhance my scientific skills in a part of the U.S. that I have never lived in before! It seemed like a new and exciting opportunity that I could not pass up!

Now, I have been working here for a little over a week and love it! Everyone here at the Roswell Office has been amazing! The entire staff here has been so nice and friendly! Last week I had a chance to go into the field with staff from most of the different sections of the Roswell Office. My first day on the job, I went out with the range staff (who I will mostly be working with during my internship) to track feral horses in the Fort Stanton area, west of Roswell. We did succeed in tracking the horses which was good news but they also got to show me some of the Fort Stanton area which was icing on the cake! The Fort Stanton area is gorgeous! From this area, you can see at least four different mountain ranges and some of the El Malpais National Monument! El Malpais is definitely a sight to see, it is an area of black basalt terrain in between the mountains caused by previous molten lava spreading from volcanoes! This as my first day on the job was a great start to an 8 month long internship!

I also got a chance to go out into the field with some of the wildlife staff! One of the days I headed out again to the Fort Stanton area to fix a well and to monitor the water supplies in the mountains. One of the major concerns for maintaining the wildlife here in southern New Mexico is the water supply. Unfortunately right now Roswell is in a year and a half drought, so making sure that the wildlife here has access to water is crucial. I am keeping my fingers crossed for some moisture, as they call it here.  This week  the weather forecast says there might be a chance (knock on wood).

This past Friday I got the chance to help the Fire section at BLM! We supported Fire Prevention week at local schools by bringing in a Smokey Bear hot air balloon and talking about fire prevention. A little fun fact is that Smokey Bear, the correct name not to be misnamed as Smokey the Bear as I found out, is from New Mexico! Smokey Bear was saved from a fire on the mountain named Capitan, just west of Roswell! It was a great time!

I cannot wait to see what the other sections of the Roswell Office do, such as: Archeology and Oil and Gas. Until then I am very excited to working here in Roswell for the next 8 months and to start my official training as a range staff member!


Stephanie Burkhardt

BLM Roswell Office