My second year as an intern for SOS East has come to an end, and its been a heck of a ride. I’ve done 571.5 hours of driving (just shy of 24 days), 308 hours of seed collecting (nearly 13 days), and 254 hours of seed cleaning (about 10.5 days). To say I’m sick of driving would be a huge understatement, but I’ve loved everything else. Well that’s not true, I don’t like dealing with the odd anal retentive land manager, or the absolute nightmare that has been Enterprise Rent-A-Car, nor have I been a big fan of the dreaded location details on our data sheets (all of you SOS interns out there know what I’m talking about).
But even with those annoyances, I can truly say I’ve loved being a part of something so dear to my heart. Not enough people care about the natural world the way I suspect all of us CLM interns, mentors, coordinators, etc. do, but it has been my mission over these past two years to help educate those that I encounter. My family is sick of me talking about seeds, my friends are tired of hearing that their beloved plants are invasive and need to be removed immediately, and I’m sure many of my friends on Facebook want to throw their phones into traffic each time I post another plant or seed picture on Instagram. I’ll be honest though, I don’t really care. If my annoying, persistent message reaches anyone, then that’s one more person on our side.
On a more drear note, just in these two years I’ve seen beautiful, natural areas go to pot. I’ve seen subdivision after subdivision built on what used to be pristine forest, grassland, or wetland – and of course, just to add insult to injury, they’re named “such-and-such Preserve”, “blah blah Reserve”, or “this-and-that Farm”. In addition, I’ve seen Phragmites growing in the woods, Lespedeza in crotch of a tree, and powerline corridors filled with the majestic Miscanthus sinensis. It’s sickening.
But at the same time, I’ve seen such passionate people working to reverse those trends. I’ve spoken to countless park rangers, land managers and lay people that all have a common goal. They want to see the natural areas around them become what they used to be. They want to educate the public and get younger people interested in the environment. They want more reasons for us all to come together for “the greater good”, and that’s not such a bad thing.
On the subject of meeting passionate and hardworking people, I’d like to give a shout out to my fellow interns from both years: Emily, Lauren, Maggie, Sammy, Melanie, and Caroline – it’s been a pleasure to work alongside each and every one of you. You each taught me something, plant related or not, and I wouldn’t trade the memories for anything. I wish all of you the best in your future endeavors.
I can’t wait to get back out into the field, be it for work or leisure. I know that this internship has affected me greatly and positively, and I feel that my place is definitely in Field Botany and Conservation Botany. I couldn’t think of a field I’d be happier in. Even to this day, with 2 days left in my internship, I can’t believe I get paid to do this!
SOS East – North Carolina Botanical Garden