Hello Blog-o-sphere,
This is my penultimate (fun word, means second to last) blog and then I will have ended my second, and final, tour with the CLM program. I will spend my last blog musing about what I have learned, how I have changed, and a few thoughts from a young “scientist.” As the year slows down, we have less and less field work to do and more office work. We are focusing on going through the herbarium back log, collecting what we can from late season seeding plants, and general housekeeping to organize physical and digital clutter. The remaining interns and I are going to create a list of tips and advice for next year’s interns to make their life easier. Simple things like making sure you add metadata to shape files and adding extra information to a voucher collected in the field will make life easier for your future self. Hopefully we can save the next interns time and frustration. Hopefully things wind down quietly and I’ll have plenty of time to job search and figure out my next step. Until next time bloggos.

Blog Blog Blog

So I really have to begin this blog post about the furlough, which is an unavoidable topic.  The furlough was really a mixed bag for me. However, I used that time to study for the GRE, spend some time with my girlfriend, and had a much needed break from a long hard field season.  I tried to make the most of a bad situation and I feel like my time wasn’t wasted. 

On to happier things. We interns participated in a CNPS training that was really interesting and something I hope to use in my career in the future.  The focus of the training was using a system developed by CNPS to characterize an area by its vegetation quickly.  This allows for quick reconnaissance of an area that will give you a good idea of what can and can’t occur in the area, botanically speaking.  We stayed near Truckee, CA in the Sagehen experimental forest, which was an incredibly beautiful place in the middle of the Serra Nevada Mountains.  The training was very helpful and I am hoping the methodology catches on around the country due to its speed and ease.

Finally, we also held a national public lands day seed collection day at Washoe Lake state park.  It was a lot of fun interacting with the public and teaching them how to collect seed and why we collect seed.  The turnout was smaller than expected, but what it lacked in numbers it made up for with enthusiasm.  We made several collections that day of Ericameria nauseosa and Grindelia squarrosa and then we had a nice lunch with the volunteers.

As the internship begins to come to a close, my last day is at the end of December, I am beginning to look toward my next step.  Looking into grad schools and for a job takes a ton of time and I am keeping my fingers crossed that I won’t be unemployed for too long.  Along with thinking about my next move, I suppose it would be a good time for some reflection of my experience here in Carson City.  Perhaps that will be my topic for the next blog post.  Until then blogosphere, until then.

Dog days

Hello Blog-o-sphere!

Things have been going well in the Great Basin. We have wrapped up all our fire monitoring field work and we are on to the data entry and IDing the unknown plants. It will be really nice to get back out in the field and enjoy the last days of summer before autumn rolls around. We also have been working on the methodology for a rare butterfly survey and have been out to Sand Mountain (SE of Fallon, NV) to establish the transects. Soon enough we will be on to seed collecting, seed collecting, and more seed collecting.

Half time

As of the end of this week, I will officially be half way through this internship. After 5 months I can easily say this has been the most challenging and rewarding job I have ever had. I have grown a lot, personally and professionally. This is the first real botany job I have held and the learning curve has been a bit steeper then I thought but I really feel like I have made a lot of progress and am able to contribute to the team. There isn’t much to add, we are camping a few times a week, working on fire rehab and range data collection. The days can be hot and long, the land can be harsh, but it is all really rewarding in the end. I can only hope I can grow as much in the next 5 months as I have in the previous ones. Fingers crossed.

May in NV

Since my last entry the field season has really picked up. We have started to camp and really started to pick up on plant id now that everything is starting to flower and seed out. I am really surprised at the amount of diversity there is in a desert. From a distance everything is sagebrush or PJ forest, but once you start to take a look the diversity it’s really incredible. It has really been challenging (and equally rewarding) to learn about these plants and really work on my botanical skills for ID’ing their characteristics. Each new plant is like a small mystery waiting to be solved; every characteristic is like a different clue and it’s great to have those light bulb moments where it all comes together and you know what the plant is (bonus points if you don’t have to use a key!).
Aside from normal field work, we attended a rangeland indicator health conference. It was really interesting to see what goes into evaluating rangeland health. There was some stuff I thought was subjective and it was difficult for me to understand and agree with everything, but overall it was a really good experience, and I came away with a better understanding of what goes into range work. The biggest take away was soil.  I know very little about soil science, but after the conference I was really inspired to learn more.
So far the only downside to this internship has been the sequester. The restrictions due to budgets isn’t anything new and I know in every job there will be limited funds, but it is grossly apparent with the sequester. It is still fairly early in the field season, but I am curious to see if we are able to meet deadlines and collect the necessary data with the current restrictions in place. The worst part is that if the data isn’t collected, agencies will essentially be flying blind when making decisions which could really adversely affect the land and the people that enjoy and depend on it. I suppose it’s too early in the season for doom and gloom, but I am not optimistic about it.


Field season is coming……

We are only a few weeks away from really kicking off field season and it can’t come soon enough! So far we have had a few days a week out in the field but still split with a decent amount of office work and I am going a bit stir crazy. I am really looking forward to seed collections, weed surveys, rare plant surveys, and everything else we will be doing this summer. I have been keeping busy in the office with designing outreach materials. My favorite is “ecosystem jenga”, it consists of a jenga blocks each colored differently to represent plants, animals, soil, and water. There are event cards that go along with the game that describe an alteration to the ecosystem which results in the addition or removal of blocks. It needs some work still but I think it worked really well to get the point across to show the fragility of an ecosystem that has been altered too much. We used it at an Earth day event and I was hoping the kids would be interested but they were way more entertained by coloring. Maybe next time I’ll bribe them with candy and stickers to keep their interest. The most entertaining day of work since my last entry had to be our ATV training. I have never ridden one before and it was a blast, I am looking forward to using them in the field. Not much to report on other than that; looking forward to some training events coming up in May (which will be saved for the next blog entry) and just getting out in the field.

Until next time,

-Nate T, proud member of Team Manatee

Oh dear sweet blog, how I have missed you.

Hello, howdy, and salutations!

I once again have the responsibility, nay, the honor to blog about my experience through the CLM program (and one of the things I’ve learned is how hard it is to write about yourself).  So an introduction is in order, my name is Nate Teich and I am a returning intern (last summer was in Worland, WY) to the CLM program in Carson City, NV.  I am roughly 2.5 months into the internship and my mind is already buzzing with everything I have learned so far. This internship is far more technical then my last and I feel like I can truly use the term botanist (…..loosely) to describe my position.  It has been challenging in the best way possible and I am thrilled to be given the chance to develop myself professionally.

The differences between the internships is interesting.  I feel like I have an uncommon opportunity among the interns to see how the BLM operates from office to office.  I think the biggest differences so far are the fact that the Sierra Front field office is practically in the middle of a metropolis compared to Worland.  With more people, I feel like the BLM is much more in the public eye here, I’m not sure yet how I feel about that but it will be something for me to think about during my time here.  The second biggest difference is I’m not the only intern here (hooray!).  My coworkers have been great so far, we have all come in with fairly different backgrounds and each brings something different to the team.

As far as the actual work goes it has been incredibly varied so far.  We have worked on SoS vouchers, put in fire transects (hiking in some amazing areas to do so), worked on plant identification, created conservation management plans, began restoration efforts on weed infested areas, and become certified pesticides applicators.  I am really excited for the field season to start up, to get moving on transect monitoring, seed collection, weed surveying and eradication, and who knows what else.  One of the best things about this job for me is that fact that I will rarely spend too long doing one thing.  Variety is the spice of life!

I am really looking forward to this year, I plan on making the most of it and really doing some solid exploring of Nevada and California.  Hope you enjoyed the snapshot of my life!



“Out where the handclasp’s a little stronger, Out where the smile dwells a little longer, That’s where the West begins.” – Arthur Chapman

So thus ends my 5 months in Wyoming, working with the BLM on weed management and so so so much more.  This has been an amazing experience for me and not only has my resume been improved by leaps and bounds, but I have grown tremendously as a person and I am so thrilled for unexpected opportunity.  Working with a completely different ecosystem and still seeing the over arching concepts I have learned about applied has been a great learning process for me, as well as trying a slew of new things like fly fishing and home brewing.  I would like to thank the BLM and the CBG for giving me this opportunity as well as all the helpful and friendly people in Worland that made my stint there fly right by.  As for my reflecting on my experiences, I am going to reuse the article I wrote for a press release because I think it summed everything up nicely.  Thanks for everything CBG, BLM field office in Worland, WY, interns, friends, and family.

-Nate T.

When I told my friends and family back home that I was going to Wyoming for five months, most of them responded with a puzzled look and the same question, “Why, what’s in Wyoming?” Being born and raised in New Jersey I really didn’t have a good answer. I knew I would be working on weed management, I knew Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks are there, and I knew it is the state with the lowest population in the U.S. Other than that, I didn’t know anything about Wyoming. I didn’t know the Bighorn Mountains exist, let alone how beautiful they are. I didn’t know that parts of the Bighorn Basin are practically a desert. I didn’t know anything about sage-grouse, or that there are actually more pronghorn than people in Wyoming. I didn’t even know what the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is or anything about public lands. I really didn’t know anything about the west, but in the short time I’ve been here, I feel like the Cowboy State has taught me well.

My internship with the BLM is through the Chicago Botanic Garden (CBG). The CBG runs a program called the Conservation and Land Management Internship Program in which it matches prospective interns with different agencies to help people get real world experience working in environmental and biological fields. I was lucky enough to be paired up with the BLM Worland Field Office (WFO), working in weed management. My mentor for the internship is C.J. Grimes, who has not only been a very helpful and informative mentor, but a friend and guide. The people at the WFO have been great and, most of all, patient with all of my questions. Learning what goes into managing public lands was eye opening; even though it isn’t always smooth, all the moving parts find a way to fit together.

The two most significant areas this internship has exposed me to are rangeland management and wildfires. I had no clue about the amount of foresight and thought that goes into rangeland management. It is so much more than just turning the cows out and then moving them after. The land is monitored and calculations are made to determine how much livestock the land can support, when the livestock needs to be moved to ensure the vegetation will be productive enough to support it next year, and to ensure there is enough forage and habitat for wildlife. It is a complex balancing act done on an enormous scale so that people can continue to make a living and habitat and wildlife can thrive at the same time.

Wildfires were also a huge change for me. Rarely are there wildfires in New Jersey and, when they do occur, they are nowhere near the size they are here. I learned that fire management is more than just trying to put a fire out. A lot of the management is done before and after a fire is actually burning. From measuring the amount of moisture in plants to thinning projects, there are many ways to figure out the risk of a potential fire and how to reduce that risk. After a fire is out, a number of monitoring and treatment projects are done to prevent the invasion of weeds. This reduces the risk and severity of future fires and ensures the land will be usable again for grazing and recreation. Fire management, or lack of it, can affect an area for decades after a fire and can be the difference between being left with thousands of acres of cheatgrass or a healthy landscape that has many uses.

While I learned about a lot about the BLM and what it does, my internship focused on weed management. I was able to see a lot of the Bighorn Basin by surveying huge chunks of land for weeds and driving on roads that I had no idea were drivable in a Ford Explorer. I worked on a number of projects using chemical, mechanical and even some biological methods of weed control. I learned what a pain it can be to deal with invasive thistles (literally) and how difficult it is to clip houndstongue seed heads without getting covered in them. I had prior experience with invasive plant management but the sheer scale of things in Wyoming makes it a completely different ballgame.

Dealing with hundreds of acres of cheatgrass or miles of Russian olive stands make management difficult to say the least. While the size of the infestations makes things difficult, the public’s eagerness to participate makes a huge difference. It was encouraging to meet so many people who not only know what invasive plants are and why they need to be managed, but were eager to help and wanted to make a difference. Maybe it’s because more people in Wyoming make a living off the land, maybe it’s the number of hunters and anglers here, or maybe people out west just have more of an appreciation for the outdoors. Whatever the reason, the fact that there is cooperation between private land owners, nonprofits, county weed and pest districts and state and federal governments is not only amazing, but makes me very optimistic that this isn’t a losing fight against invasive species.

Coming out west from the east coast was a bit of a culture shock. There was definitely an adjustment from living in a densely populated area with every amenity within 15 miles, to towns of hundreds and having to travel more than 100 miles to buy things I couldn’t find in the local grocery store. After only a short while in Wyoming, I can see why people love it here. The Bighorn Basin has a rugged beauty all its own. You have to be tough to live in a place where it may only rain five inches each year and I am constantly amazed at the tenacity of the plants and animals that thrive here. The people are no different. Most of the people I have met here can roll up their sleeves and get things done and I hope a bit of that has rubbed off on me. I am excited to keep exploring the country and find my next place to work, but I know my experience in Wyoming will stick with me.

West Side Story

Another month gone by and another blog post typed.  The months are flying by and my time is growing shorter here in Wyoming.  September was an exceptionally quick month for me which included a small vacation home to see my friend on leave from Afghanistan.

I am finally at the point of this internship where I feel extremely comfortable with all the tasks assigned to me.  You need a basal bark treatment on some Russian olive? Finished. You need some seed clipping and post treatment monitoring of houndstounge? No problem.  You want some surveying done in a canyon? Handled. Transects, outreach and education, and GIS mapping. Done, done, and done. With a month left in the internship I feel very capable of any task assigned to me and if I don’t know how to do it, I know how to educate myself about it (50% co-workers, 50% Google).  I am looking forward to the final month of my internship: Russian olive cutting, spring treatment monitoring, a two day conference in Yellowstone, and who knows what else.  At some point I’ll figure out how to load pictures up here and put up a ridiculous amount of photos but until then keep your eyes open for weeds!

Wild Wild West

Wow, August really flew by.  This was a really great month; I am loving my job and really enjoying my time out here.  Earlier this month I organized a solo project that involves going out to potential leasing sites for minerals and doing a brief vegetation and wildlife assessment then taking a photo and GPS point.  At first, I wasn’t too thrilled with the prospect, it sounded…….uneventful.  I was mistaken; I have gone to so many places in our field office’s management area that I wouldn’t have been to visit otherwise.  I did field site visits from the western foothills of the Shoshoni forest to the eastern foothills of the Big Horn forest and all the wonderfully rugged sage scrub and badlands in-between.   I drove around on roads (I use the term loosely) that were so hazardous I was honestly surprised that my Ford Explorer could traverse them. I saw black bear, sage grouse, rattlesnakes, and a huge number of raptors.  It has been a really unexpected treat.  After that project ended, I moved back into bag’n and tag’n weeds and surveying.  The most interesting area I surveyed this month was a creek-carved canyon that was on fire in early June.  Over a hundred foot tall walls with blackened earth and vegetation made for an awesome hike through.  I’ve also been helping construct a shade shelter  these last few days of August — hopefully I’ll have some pictures of it to post next time.  On a personal note, I climbed my first mountain peak (going for a 14er this weekend!), started to harvest fruit and veggies from my garden, went fly fishing for the first time and I’m hooked (….I love puns….), had a birthday, and brewed my 3rd batch of beer (brown ale, pumpkin ale, and now a stout!).  I’d say that it was a pretty successful month professionally and personally and I am really looking forward for the next one.


-Nate T.