This past month, we finally got to the point where the majority of our time was spent in the field!!!
The first week of April, however, was a week full of trainings. Days one and two were spent at ArcPad training and day three was GeoBOB Mobile training. As someone who has spent countless hours entering GeoBOB data and trying to decipher handwriting, I am excited to be able to put this new technology to use so, hopefully, all data can be input in the field which would save so much time!
After our GPS trainings, we took a defensive driving course and, finally, on day five, we got to practice driving off road! We didn’t do much plant monitoring, but it was so nice to be outside after a week in the office!!!
The next week was a little more exciting! First off, we got to organize and put away our herbarium which had been returned after being scanned for a digital herbarium database. Ok, I guess that wasn’t super thrilling, but it was nice to finally be able to look at our local herbarium sheets to visualize the species we would be seeing in the field.
Later in the week, we finally got to go back in the field!!! Our first task was to monitor a sage grouse lek and, since we had to make it there before sunrise, our day started bright and early at 3:45 AM. Sadly, we did not see any of the little guys lekking, but it was to be expected as it was the end of the lekking season. Don’t worry though, that wasn’t the end of our adventure that day! Next on the agenda was a spotted frog survey! This involved walking two miles of stream bank and capturing GPS coordinates of any egg masses or frogs that we came across.
The day started out with few egg mass spottings but, as we made it further down the stream, we started coming across hot spots teeming with frogs and covered in egg masses!
Friday was driving test and tire changing day! Bill Lutjens taught us how to change the tire on our rig and then each of us had to change a tire by ourselves. I learned that I am a weakling and F350 tires are super duper heavy, but I am so glad I have experience changing the tire now, so if we were to get a flat in the field I would be way more confident!
Tire changing was followed by our driving test, which involved driving around on some steep sandy hills outside of town. Bill uses this course because it looks really scary, but is actually quite safe. After our driving adventures, Bill gave us the thumbs up and we are officially signed off on driving now!!!
This past week we were finally allowed out on our own, which worked out well since our mentor was out sick most of the week. We were pretty much given free reign over what we wanted to do for the week, so we would choose a different spot with some sensitive species we could monitor each day and practice driving and navigating to the areas and surveying the sites.
Last week gave me a taste of what the rest of the summer will be like and I am super pumped and look forward to the months to come!