Final Reflections

November 2010

Hello Current and Future Interns!

As I reflect on my internship experience, I am flooded with positive thoughts. I have benefitted greatly from the training and practical experiences and have significantly expanded my botanical knowledge and comfort with common techniques and protocols. Thanks to the CLM program I possess proficiency keying out plants, collecting voucher specimen, using GPS and GIS technologies, designing plans for and carrying out monitoring of rare species, using a Munsell soil chart to determine soil color, and writing up technical reports for both public and internal audiences. In the last weeks I also got CPR/First Aid Certification. I think it would be very valuable if this was incorporated into the initial CLM training workshop, because many of the interns spend significant time out in the field in often isolated conditions.

Still, the greatest rewards of this experience were the personal ones. Spending everyday outdoors in such a majestic landscape has truly ignited my passion for conservation work. As I wandered the sanctuary of trails other flock to on their days off, I was constantly filled with appreciation. My job was a privilege and, even more importantly, by doing it I was contributing to the preservation of the landscape and the feelings of elation and tranquility we get as its visitors. Getting to work with a fabulous group of people, my mentors Carol Dawson and Peter Gordon and fellow interns Lorenzo Ferrari and Teresa Olson, was a pleasure. Carol’s animation made even the most commonplace tasks seem exciting and Peter’s polite encouragement contributed greatly to our learning. Lorenzo’s caution, Teresa’s focus, and my optimism made for a well-balanced team despite, or perhaps because of, our very different assessments of the situations we encountered. I would also like to thank Krissa (CLM Manager) and Marian (CLM Coordinator) for always making themselves available to assist with any questions or problems that came up. Thank you all for making these 5 months such wonderfully memorable ones for me!

Best of luck to all my fellow interns! I am sure you will continue to do great things!

Here are some photos to illustrate a snippet of my CLM experience:

Paintbrush and Pea.

Valley of the Foothills

We weren't the only ones interested in the flora...


The bull snakes mimic of a rattler is too good! They get killed in the confusion.


Prickly Pear juice is yummy as long as you remain cognizant of the glochids.

Sometimes if you spend enough time with people, you start to feel like the same person. Here is a morph of my fellow interns and I.

How the West Was Fun

Landscape with a face.

Did you know Colorado has pelicans? This is their home.

Rocky Mt. High

Red Rocks


I am a mountain girl.

Monitoring at an oil shale mine.

Paint Mines Interpretive Park

North Park Sand Dunes a.k.a. Planet of the Apes

Lorenzo, Me, Teresa

Mt. Evans, me, mountain goats.

Autumn Aspens


Diana DelleChiaie

Conservation and Land Management Intern

Colorado State Office of the Bureau of Land Management

Kolb Brothers Studio

July 2010

Hello Current and Future Interns!

Here’s a brief history lesson of some amazing people and the building that houses their legacy:

The Kolb Brothers Studio, located on the South rim of the Grand Canyon, currently houses art and historical exhibits. While attending the 2010 training trip at the Grand Canyon and checking out an exhibit on plants, I happened to run into the husband of the main historian. He had the most hilarious business card I had ever seen: his name with the word “Retired” underneath, a majestic picture of mountains and clouds, and the words “I have that day off…” While giving me, Marian Hoffner (CLM Internship Coordinator), and two other interns a brief history lesson, he noticed our rapt attention and enthusiasm and offered us a unique behind the scenes tour of the studio that usually only 10 visitors get to see every year.

A glimpse of the grandeur of the South Rim.

Kolb Studio in the present.

The Kolb brothers, Emery and Ellsworth, were entrepreneurs who founded the Bright Angel Trail at the Grand Canyon and built a ramshackle dwelling offically labeled an ‘entertainment studio’ literally hanging out over the canyon rim. They used to charge 50 cents per person and animal headed down the trail. In an effort to attract more visitors, they would stage daring action poses and publish the photographs. They also shot the first motion picture footage of the Grand Canyon while floating down the Colorado River in 1911. As the visitors were making the arduous trek down, the brothers would take their picture, race 8 miles down to the nearest water source to develop the film, and then race back up so they could sell the pictures to the tourists before they departed. It turned out to be a very lucrative endeavor.

The Kolb Brothers

One of the "daring" staged shots used to draw visitors.

We got to tour their original living quarters and photography studio, complete with all the original furniture (Tiffany lamps and elaborately carved wood) and an original photo of Teddy Roosevelt riding down on a mule. The controversial history of the building itself was relayed to our eager ears. When the federal government first acquired the land, the building was viewed as an eyesore. The government officials reluctantly agreed that the brothers could continue to live there until their deaths, after which it would be demolished. However, one of the brothers lived well into his 90s, long enough to make his house eligible to be listed on the National Register of Historical places. Eventually the ‘eyesore’ evolved into a national treasure. In the 1970s when the building was renovated, it was discovered that there was no foundation or secure method of attachment. The house was just hanging out all of those years. Considering the Bright Angel Trail is located along a fault line, it is astonishing that it survived such precarious placement for so many years!


Diana DelleChiaie

Conservation and Land Management Intern

Colorado State Office of the Bureau of Land Management

National Center for Genetic Resource Preservation

September 2010

Hello Current and Future Interns!

One of the unique experiences I had this summer was a chance to visit and tour the National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation (NCGRP). Their mission is, ” to acquire, evaluate, preserve, and provide a national collection of genetic resources to secure the biological diversity that underpins a sustainable U.S. agricultural economy through diligent stewardship, research, and communication.” Getting to see where some of the thousands of seeds I collected this summer end up (in a minus 20 degrees Celsius freezer or vat of liquid nitrogen) really made my contribution seem a lot more salient. All the at times monotnous hours I spent out in the field in Colorado enables the valuable research that goes on here – to preserve food security and protect the biodiversity of our country. It was a nice reminder that even the seemingly menial and repetitive tasks you may have to perform as a CLM intern, such as seed collection, have important conservation applications and do make a positive impact.

A vat of liquid nitrogen.

Where the genetic material is kept.

This is how the seed is packaged for long-term storage.

Here is a current germination trial.

If you are interested in learning more about NCGRP, I encourage you to check out their website and take the virtual tour:


Diana DelleChiaie

Conservation and Land Management Intern

Colorado State Office of the Bureau of Land Management

A Trip to the Natural Areas Conference in the Ozarks

October 2010

Hello Current and Future Interns!

I am going to tell you about the exciting opportunity I recently had to attend the 37th Annual Natural Areas Conference in Osage Beach, MO, part of Lake of the Ozarks. The 5-day experience was a great chance for me to interact with conservation-minded professionals, hear about current research, and hone my public speaking abilities by giving a formal presentation.

The majority of participants in the conference were career professionals and I was one of few students/recent grads/jobseekers in attendance. However, the theme of this year’s conference was “Connecting Across Generations and Disciplines” and the conference organizers expressed interest in attracting more younger participants in the future. They also expressed their frustration with lack of able communicators in the industry, and the difficulty of finding recent graduates who have applied experience, like the hands-on experience we have been fortunate enough to get from the CLM Program.

I attended talks on a wide variety of topics including the history of conservation and the Natural Areas Movement, identification of grass species, invasive species, pollinators in the natural system, and fire ecology. Each room had a separate lecture series workshop and each conference attendee could also attend a field trip related to one of the workshops. I chose to go to the hands-on application of prescribed fire. Had the weather been favorable we would have done a controlled burn on a 100 acre plot, but due to lack of rain we were unable to do so. It was still very interesting to see all the equipment, walk the area perimeter, discuss the various steps necessary to carry out a burn, and learn about typical fire behavior. We also visited burn sites in Ozark Caverns and Ha Ha Tonka Parks and compared the vegetation found there with that found in unburned areas.

Attending the conference cemented my desire to work in the field of natural resource management. Meeting so many individuals who were so passionate about their careers and able to make a real difference was very inspiring. One of the sessions I attended was a ‘World Café’ where we broke up into small groups and discussed how we could improve certain aspects of career preparation or effectiveness such as internships, higher education, and job skills. We rotated three times. In the first two rotations we listed any ideas that came into our heads and in the third session we prioritized the most important ones. A representative from each team then presented these ideas to the whole room. In the interest of allowing younger generations to acquire necessary communication skills, I was chosen to present the priorities of the higher education group to a room of over 60 people. This audience proved much larger than that present in the smaller session where I presented the CLM Intern Experience with Krissa (Conservation Scientist and Manager of the CLM program at the Chicago Botanic Garden) and my peers. While speaking in front of so many accomplished people off-the-cuff was a nerve-wracking experience, it made me a lot more confident in my abilities. It also served as an introduction that led to many more people coming up and talking with me than might have happened otherwise. If you have the chance to apply to attend the conference in the future, I would highly recommend it. It is a great learning experience and a lot of fun!

You can learn more about the Natural Areas Association here:


Diana DelleChiaie

Conservation and Land Management Intern

First Impressions

June 2010

Hello Current and Future Interns!

After growing up in New Jersey and going to college in Maine, I decided that I wanted to see some of the western United States. Having double majored in biology and government, I thought that the CLM internship would be an ideal combination of both my interests. Throughout my internship I will primarily be monitoring rare plants and collecting seeds for Seeds of Success Program with my co-workers at the Lakewood Office of the Bureau of Land Management.

From the moment I arrived at the office, I knew I was in for an interesting 5 months! On my first day on the job we went to Lair ‘O the Bear Park in the Jefferson County Open Space to collect Pulsatilla patens seeds. When the seeds are ripe for picking, the delicate wisps of this wind-dispersed plant easily fall off into your hand. We were able to make a substantial, but incomplete collection since many of the seeds were still green and needed more time to mature.

The very next day we drove to Dolores on the western slope where we collected Gilia ophthalmoides in Negro Canyon inside of Canyon of the Ancients National Monument. The landscape was unlike anything I had ever seen before! In addition to exposing me to many new plants, this trip also led me to encounter some ancient pottery and nasty gnats in the field. Luckily we were prepared with net jackets! After work, my co-workers and I had the opportunity to venture to Mesa Verde to further explore the natural history of the area.

During my second week we returned to Lair ‘O the Bear to finish our Pulsatilla patens collection. We were worried that the seed might have been lost in a violent storm the night before, but after scouring the hillsides we were able to successfully complete our collection. The next day we went to Green Mountain to scout for other potential seed collections. We found upwards of 5 species abundant enough to make collections, but they were still in flower. We will return later once the seeds are ready to be harvested. We spent Wednesday through Friday on Raven Ridge in Meeker monitoring the rare Penstemon grahamii. We used transect surveys of the total number of rosettes to assess the health of the population. Once we have performed our data analysis we will be able to see any changes that have occurred since last year. Past monitoring revealed no change and hopefully the population is still going strong! While monitoring the penstemon, we chanced upon a population of Astragalus chamaeleuce with collection-ready seed and made the collection.

So far I have really enjoyed learning about new flora and am excited about our upcoming training in the Grand Canyon!


Diana DelleChiaie

Conservation and Land Management Intern

Colorado State Office of the Bureau of Land Management