These past six months as a CLM Intern at the Vale BLM district office have been wonderful. The things I have learned, the people I have met, and the places I have gone have all made me a better person both professionally and personally. After completing this internship and collecting countless seeds, the number of plants I have learned to identify has doubled, if not tripled, and my love of botany has grown even more. Being stationed in Vale, Oregon allowed me to experience a part of the country that few people live in or ever think about visiting. Working everyday in such a remote place allowed me to really get in touch with nature and understand how a desert ecosystem operates. Working in the BLM office also furthered my understanding of how a government agency works and has given me a much greater appreciation of all the people who work to manage our public lands. This internship has been one of the greatest experiences of my life and I would recommend it to anyone who is looking to learn more about environmental science and working for a government agency.
CLM Intern Vale, OR
This is the fourth month of my CLM internship in Vale, OR and I feel that I have learned so much. My experiences to this point have been wonderful. I love being able to wake up each morning and go out into the field. The large size of the BLM district here in Eastern Oregon has allowed me to see so much country from mountaintops to canyons to the high desert it has all been a visual treat.
The large size of the district requires a lot of driving time on 4×4 roads which are so much fun to drive but not without their dangers. One day in July the battery in our truck died while we were monitoring a plant population on the top of Cottonwood Mountain. We had to walk eight miles to ask a rancher to use his phone. Even this possible bad experience turned out to be be a good, allowing us to see a lot of country we otherwise would not have covered and learn about ranch life from the family we stayed with until the mechanics from the BLM motor pool came with a new battery.
My ability to identify plants has improve greatly as well as my appreciation for plant life. Whenever there is a plant I have not seen before I always have to pick it up and ID it. I attended a Grass ID course in July which was extremely beneficial. Before attending I had very little background in Grass identification. The class helped me to not only key out and ID more grasses but also learn how to better assess their phenology. I am scheduled to attend a Willow ID course in a couple of weeks and am looking forward to gaining as much knowledge about willows as I did about grasses.
My mentor has been great. Not only have I learned about plants, seed, and how to work within the government system from her, she has also given me great tips about places to go camping and backpacking on the weekends as well as info on other possible jobs after I finish my internship. I don’t think I could have been placed with a better mentor.
These four months have been great and I am looking forward to the next two here in the Northern Great Basin.
BLM Vale, Oregon
The first three weeks of my SOS internship have been great. Although I didn’t start working until May 24, I feel that my experience really started several days earlier when I began driving from the North Carolina mountains to Eastern Oregon. Watching the landscape slowly change from forested hills to the flat treeless prairie to high rocky mountains to sagebrush filled foothills was amazing. On the actual first day of my internship I realized how much work was ahead of me. The amount of BLM land in the Vale district is immense and there were tons of plants that I needed to learn, the majority of which I had never seen before. I feel that I am slowly starting to learn the plants here but I still have so many to learn. However, I already have noticed an improvement in my ability to use flora keys. It is really exciting to find a wildflower that I have never seen before and figure out what it is. My mentor Gillian Wigglesworth has been so helpful. She has made my transition to this new work and place extremely easy. My favorite thing about my new home and work has to be the isolation. We will be driving around to different places collecting and monitoring seed, and see maybe one or two other cars the entire time. Over memorial day weekend I went backpacking and didn’t see another person for two and a half days it was a very refreshing change from the densely populated east coast. I also attended Seeds of Success training held here in Vale. Marian from the CBG and Mary from the BLM office in DC were very helpful. I learned so much about seed collecting, plant identification, and especially about the entire process from seed collection to reclamation. So far I am loving my internship. I can’t believe I get paid to see all these beautiful places and have all these new experiences.