This will be my last week as a botany intern with the Carson City District Office in Nevada. During the last 10 months, I have learned a great deal about myself while developing my professional skills and my understanding of land management practices in the west. My greatest professional growth has come in the form of improved communication with co-workers and supervisors. Prior to the start of this internship, I worked primarily alone or in small groups. It was a huge adjustment trying to coordinate with nine other people and get organized and mobilized for field work. I quickly learned the value of clarity, brevity and repetition. As a perfectionist, I am somewhat predisposed to micromanagement, but I am working on trusting my co-workers and delegating tasks. I hope that I have become a better team player as a result of working in a large group.
One of the most important learning experiences was the significance of field safety, such as following safety protocol and maintaining communication within the group. I believe that all of us will leave this internship with a greater awareness of the risks associated with field work, as well as a better understanding of how to avoid or minimize those dangers.
I was also given the opportunity to strengthen my botany field skills and develop a plethora of new skills and experiences. For example, I am far more comfortable and efficient with ArcGIS, and I have a much better understanding of relational databases. In addition to the methodology and plant identification that we covered as part of our field training, we attended a variety of conferences and workshops. My favorite by far was the Rapid Vegetation Assessment/Relevé training in Truckee, California. After focusing so much on transects and square meter frames, it was refreshing to change my perspective to the vegetation community as a whole. The internship exceeded my expectations in terms of the skills gained, but I must admit that I was somewhat disappointed by the amount of office work that we had to tackle. I was expecting to spend far more time in the field. However, the time spent in the office did give me some insight into the inner workings of the federal government.