Goodbye Wyoming

As the days grow shorter, the Bighorn Mountains are adorned with white caps of snow and my little cars’ windows freeze over each night. My internship comes to an end and I find myself thinking fondly of the long dry summer I spent wandering these plains and hills. Upon arrival in Wyoming I was rather dismayed by the dry and seemingly bleak landscape. But now I feel sad to leave it.
I moved from Cheyenne to the Buffalo Field Office, Wyoming, in July and found myself busied with various tasks, including participating in Outreach and a Visual Resource Inventory in New Castle, Range assessments, Riparian monitoring, Limber Pine and Sensitive species work. And of course, Seeds of Success!

Particular highlights include the 2 week camp I participated in on the Wyoming- South Dakota border. This involved entertaining a bunch of crazy middle schoolers for 11 hours each day with various games, activities and lessons about nature. We “tricked” them into collecting seeds for SOS and I even got them excited about lichens! Awesome. On another outreach excursion we worked with high school kids, whom I had writing poems about tree stumps; they were actually very enthusiastic about this and it still makes me grin.

It was also a great feeling to help people out in the field office with some projects they didn’t have time for. My fellow interns and I hunted around the mountains for healthy Limber Pine trees for cone collection. We also spent hot days wandering across bentonite scarps and getting stuck in drainages looking for sensitive plant species.  

I’ve really enjoyed this internship. I gained invaluable field work and organizational experience and have been really lucky to work with amazing and fun people. It was tough at times, adjusting to life in Wyoming/ USA but I think I’ve found a kind of balance- just in time to move on! My only other complaints really were listening to Kyle’s pop music during the VRI and the time that I ate some Atriplex canescens to see what it would taste like. It was yuck.

I’m so glad I came out here to do this internship and I would recommend Wyoming to anyone who is up for a wild western twist to a budding natural resources career.

The Limber Pine

Limber pine, some blisterine, dropping orange fascicles of needles

Your old friend Ribes now carries disease that makes you weep from your branches,

All around you, your fellows stand dead, tall and small, dried and rotting.

Poked and prodded, the humans drill holes, spray paint your trunk, leave little cages over your cones.

And then the silence returns

Kiwi in Wyoming

Hi, I am Alex and I’m Interning this summer with Adrienne Pilmanis, the state lead for Botany, BLM based out of the Wyoming State office.

The past four weeks have been a huge jump for me, moving from the now seemingly tiny and temperate country of New Zealand and being plonked down in the middle of a gigantic, dry continent. I’m having fun getting my head around the way “things work” in this country…banking, insurance, driving on the right hand side of the road [Insert long and ever expanding list here]…you know, all those things you take for granted when you’ve grown up with them and your parents showed you how to do them?? It seems many of my instincts are nul and void over here.

Despite necessary evils of getting my life organised, I’m absolutely loving being here! I guess it helps that the first weeks of work involved driving up to Lander and into the Big Horn Basin area with Adrienne. I spent the past 2 weeks visiting beautiful places and learning about what plantey things people are doing in this state, especially with regards SOS, plant conservation and reclamation planning/studies. Its fascinating and I’m really excited!

Here are a few pictures taken on said adventures, I have many more if anyone is interested in seeing lots of pictures of landscapes, flowers, often with bugs in them… also small mammals (we don’t actually have native mammals in NZ, and I’m a fan, so this place is full of endless entertainment for me).

Fossicking for forbs

SOS Scouting the sagebrush near gashills with Lander interns botanizing in beautiful places

Barneby's clover (Trifolium barnebyi)

Looking for dieback in sensitive species endemic to Wyoming

More plant hunting

Botanizing in Beautiful places

 Back in the office this week to do some “real work”… But looks like more explorations are lining themselves up soon 🙂