Last Week as an Intern

This is the last week of my internship. I have been an Intern out of Laramie, WY since last May. Through my internship I did a variety of jobs; I worked leading a SOS team for the University, as a lab technician focusing on the understanding of native seed germination and a general technician for the WY BLM State Office.
I started this internship straight out of college. To my friends at home, this seemed like a random move. I got a lot of “Wyoming? Is that one of those square states out there?” However, I knew this was a job I wanted to do. It combined my interest in doing field work and research, with conservation policy. After 11 months, I can say it has met my expectations and I have learned a tremendous amount. It has confirmed my continued desire to work in botany and conservation policy.
As someone who has been doing grunt work in the field, lab and office, it is interesting to see how this work was designed by BLM policy at the state office level. Seemingly abstract components of science (like plant phenotypic plasticity) and of national news (such as trillion dollar budget deficit) get combined together by hardworking people to create policy. To add more complexity, they must work to balance what often appear to be two competing goals, utilizing the land and at the same time maintaining a healthy environment. On a botanical level in WY, this policy means that rare plants are being preserved and native plants are being developed for use in reclamation of disturbed area where land has been utilized for minerals and energy development. My summer work and lab work were all part of the overarching policy to sustain healthy, diverse and productive lands for use and enjoyment.
Finally, I should thank all the people who have helped me out including both my mentors, Kristina Hufford and Adrienne Pilmanis.

Wyoming Winters

My internship is coming to a close soon. It has been almost a year since I moved to Wyoming and started my internship. I have learned a tremendous amount since starting last May.
Recently, I have been working to find uses for SOS seeds. I have been matching available seeds to projects we have going on throughout the state. Research projects include establishing seed zones for native forbs and experimenting with how our native forbs will respond to high carbon dioxide in the environment (which is predicted to happen with global warming). Another project has SOS collected seeds that will be planted in reclamation trials.
Although this desk work is not as immediately gratifying as being out in the field collecting seeds or surveying rare plants, it is very important. It is a whole side of the Seeds of Success program that many interns do not experience. I get to see that the SOS seeds will actually be put to use in the ground. It is an important part of the Seeds of Success program’s mission.

Winter in Wyoming

I have happily been extended as a CLM intern. As the weather got cold (there is a high of 18 degrees today) it was a transition from field work mainly focused on collections for the Seeds of Success Program to more indoor activities including lab and office work. My time is split between the University of Wyoming and the BLM state office in Cheyenne.
As the Sate office, I have been experiencing all the behinds the scenes work that makes the SOS program run. We have been coordinating reports and compiling data in a map. I also did a bit of research to find out what forb and grass seeds native to Wyoming are available commercially. I was struck by how few forb and grass seeds are available that represent the local genotypes and genetic diversity. Many of the plant species I collected seeds from this summer are not available on the market. This provided a lot of prospective on how important the SOS program is. Not only does it provide seeds for long term storage, but also for research with the hope that one day local seeds will be available for restoration projects around the United State.
This provides lots of perspective for the other half of my intern experience at the University of Wyoming. I work in a lab exploring germination variability in native seeds using many of the seeds I collected this summer. I record data on the germination totals for seeds and get excited when the root tip emerges for a new species. The variation in growth forms, germination requirements, and speed of germination both among and between species is amazing. I know that this work is an important step in the process to get viable native plants into the ground for restoration.

Laramie, WY

It has been a busy week since arriving back in Laramie, Wyoming from the training session in Chicago, Illinois. I have been working in both the field and the lab. In the field my team and I have been making SOS collections. We are up to eleven collections so far. Our collections vary by site which makes every field day interesting. We go to the mountains in the Laramie Range and the Sierra Nevada Range in addition to the surrounding sage brush step. This past week we went up to Thunder Basin National grassland. It was hot and dry as it has been all summer long. It has been perfect condition for fires which have been burning all around the state. One of my team’s potential SOS collection sites got burned in a recent fire at Glendo State Park in Wyoming. However, it is not all field work for me. As I am stationed out of the University of Wyoming, I also get to participate in research. I have been plating seeds from last year’s SOS collections in agar for germination studies. I have to be very careful to keep all my tools sterilized in order to grow plants and not fungi. It has been exciting to see two sides of the SOS program; the seed collections and the research.