Another CBG Season Comes to an End

Well, my final days as a CBG intern at the Salt Lake Field Office have come and gone. Once I wrapped up the last of the collections and entered all the data, I had the chance to work on some side projects. One of these was to greatly spruce up the office herbarium. The old herbarium was contained in two old, fake wood cabinets that were literally falling apart. Every time I opened them, it seemed like a chunk of weird, spongy material fell out of the inside. One of the doors was completely off its hinges. There was hardly any space left either. By some miracle, we had enough room in the budget to order a shiny, new, and huge herbarium cabinet. What’s more, we were able to convince the powers that be to put it in the “intern bullpen” area so that next year all the seasonal teams can have access to it. The old herbarium was located in a part of the office that not many people visit and a majority of the office had no idea we even had an herbarium. Not anymore!

New herbarium cabinet with all specimens inside!

It was quite comical to hear everyone’s opinions of the new herbarium. Some people called it an eyesore. Others were very enthusiastic. The other herbarium side project was to digitize all the plant specimens in case some disaster happened or if someone wanted to do a quick look up of a species. This involved stamping and photographing every single specimen, which amounted to 1390 vouchers! Some were in horrible shape, some were very old, and then I got to add the ones I made this SOS field season in to the mix. It felt very satisfying to accomplish all that.

One of the vouchers I made from this year’s collections

During my very last week, I got the opportunity to help out the new wildlife biologist with a Bat Week presentation at a local elementary school. This turned out to be a cool experience and we were relieved to find that the kids were super attentive and willing to participate. Their curiosity was very refreshing! I’m sure the teachers enjoyed a break from their regular schedule as well.

Reflecting back on the entirety of this field season, I am proud of what I and my coworker accomplished. Despite some difficulty along the way, we surpassed our collection goals, camped in awesome places, and improved on many botany skills. Having a good coworker certainly makes or breaks a field season, so I felt really lucky to once again have an awesome field partner. It also helps to have a good mentor, and ours was definitely a great one, striking a good balance between being available when we needed guidance and also trusting us to get work done on our own(and not micro-managing!). Hopefully next year the communication between the various organizations doing seed collections will exist and that next year’s crew will have a less confusing time of things on that end.

As far as the next step in life goes, I am in a state of limbo. I definitely want to spend the winter in Utah and see how that goes. I’m conflicted as to weather to pursue other seasonal opportunities or try and get the elusive full-time job. This field can be frustrating at times, but I am determined to keep pursuing it at the moment. I can’t thank the CBG enough for giving me two amazing field seasons in two great locations, and for opening my eyes to all that the West has to offer!

Rolling into September

The days are still hot here in Salt Lake, but the nights and mornings are starting to get a tad cooler which makes me excited for fall. It will be so nice to eventually get a break from the desert heat!

August had Theresa and I scouting for seed, keying out plants, and checking them under the microscope once more. We were disappointed when we headed to the higher elevations in our field office in Rich County. The two of us had envisioned fields of wildflowers in the mountains. Silly SOS pipe dreams! We should know better by now that BLM land is typically not in the best shape and that it typically doesn’t contain the lush meadows of the mountains. We did find an abundance of Cordylanthus ramosus and tons of rabbitbrush, and while those aren’t the most exciting or showy or our target plants, the sheer numbers we found of them were quite impressive.

As one of our last big scouting/collecting trips together before Theresa leaves to begin the journey of grad school, we decided to head to the Deep Creeks. The Deep Creeks are a range of mountains on the border of Utah and Nevada that take quite a long time to drive to, thus camping or staying in the nearby field station is logical. We got a great recommendation of a camp spot from the aquatic AIM crew as well as other co-workers at the office, and it hands-down was the prettiest remote camp spot we’ve had all season. Gorgeous rocky canyon walls dotted with P/J, sweeping views of the valley and mountains in the distance, an epic sunrise, and no wind at night!

Part of the epic sunrise during our time in the Deep Creeks.

Unfortunately we realized that we missed out on some great native grass populations there due to our focus being elsewhere all season. We did find a surprise collection of Cleome lutea, one of our target species, though so that was pretty neat.

Many Cleome lute plants had these little fellas hanging out in the center of the flower clusters

Other recent explorations throughout our field office have revealed Cleome serrulata populations that have tons of pollinators, our pygmy sage site finally flowering, surpassing our collection goals, and making a pit stop for the “famous” raspberry shakes near Bear Lake. As the field season slowly winds down, and more days are dedicated to data management and office-type activities, I feel beyond grateful to have seen so many places of remote Utah that not too many people get to see.

Cleome serrulata with various pollinators around and on it

Microscope photo of H. annuus

Corinne Schroeder
BLM Salt Lake Field Office

Inching Closer to our 30 JZ’s

Theresa and I are so close to our target of 30 collections and it’s kind of amazing. In all honesty, if it wasn’t for some bad timing, we likely would have hit our 30 and surpassed it. Sometimes though, you just need to roll with what the season throws at you. Recently, we camped in Fillmore’s Field Office to collect the seeds from plants we scouted there about a month ago. It was moving along at a slower pace, and we thought we timed it pretty accurately. Unfortunately, Utah decided to have a week straight (and then some) of days over 100 degrees F and when we went to collect our seed, we were dismayed that the plants essentially got fried before the seed could even develop properly. So, instead of our trusty work truck being full to the brim of seed bags, we got about half the collections we intended to get. All is not lost however. Since we GPS everything, next years crew will be able to get the ones we missed out on this year.

Rural Utah has a sense of humor I can appreciate!

Return to Crystal Peak in Fillmore’s Field Office.

As of last week, we wrapped up a cool rare plant monitoring project by collecting a tiny amount of seed for a grow-out project the office is interested in. It was hot. It was dusty. Fire ate away one of our populations. And somehow, a road flooded, and we strategically had to maneuver off-road around it. Our truck hasn’t let us down yet though, which is a miracle considering we’ve logged over 7,000 miles on every sort of road and non-road imaginable. I probably just jinxed that luck now.

When not sweating out of every pore in my body during our work days, I have been enjoying the cool hikes the Wasatch front has to offer. I’m looking forward to some upcoming scouting in the higher elevation areas of our office since the mountains have seemingly exploded into bloom. It’s a breath-taking sight to see meadows thick with color.

Saving a mantis dude from our debugging process that we put the seeds through


Approaching Month 4 in the SLFO

As the third month of my SOS internship closes out and the fourth month begins, it’s hard to wrap my head around all that Theresa and I have seen and all the seed collecting we have yet to do. The beautiful Phacelia and Camissonia species we have come to love have already budded and faded, and all of a sudden most of the species we have been monitoring in various places of our field office seem to be about to have their seeds ready all at the same time. All. At. The. Same. Time. While the prospect of this seems daunting, it’s also exciting. I’m very much looking forward to the trials and errors of my first seed collections. Due to some tragic personal events, I missed out on our actual first seed collections and am now eagerly awaiting my chance to collect seed.

The field office is definitely buzzing with the huge amount of seasonals that have gradually came on in the last month. Our little intern area is no longer quiet; it’s now a beehive of activity between the 3 AIM crews, aquatic AIM crew, weeds people, and other seasonal vegetation crews. The competition for a computer might get quite fierce. Thankfully, Theresa and I are out in the field most of the time, so we can escape the office.

My favorite location in our field office, the Silver Island Mountains

Other highlights include our first camping trip for work (I remember now what being coated in dust feels like), finding some interesting forbs out in the West desert, and finally finding an acceptable Great Basin Wild Rye population.

Sunset from my tent during our first overnight

Trying to Stay Hydrated in the West Desert,

Corinne Schroeder

Back In The West, Utah Edition

For my second CBG stint, I have been sent to the Salt Lake Field Office in Salt Lake City, Utah. Instead of focusing all my energy on AIM, I now join the vast league of interns who have and who currently are participating in the Seeds of Success program. I have been here with the other SOS intern, Theresa, for about a month now. In that time, we’ve tried to educate ourselves on our focus species, other species that our office has a particular interest in, and some opportunistic species that we may have the ability to collect.

In addition to learning about these grass and forb species, we have been fiddling around on GIS trying to make adequate maps for where we can potentially find some populations. Theresa and I have the unique experience in being the first official SOS interns this field office has ever had. While that is exciting, it’s also kind of difficult at times. Compared to the last BLM office I was in, this office lacks a lot in materials available to us. Luckily, we have a substantial budget that gives us the ability to order all the supplies we think we’ll need this season. The most valuable thing to us so far has been a copy of Utah Flora and a small grasses booklet.

The best key we have to use

I can’t help but compare where I was last year in Buffalo, Wyoming to where I am now. For being neighboring states, there is already a whole bunch of new vegetation and landscapes to get to know. Luckily, there’s some old favorites that I can recognize as they start to pop up in the warming weather. Technically I am in the West Desert district now, so it’s going to get super dry before I know it!

When I’m not attempting to be a botanist and also not on the hunt for housing (SLC is notorious for a large housing demand it can’t keep up with I have learned), I’m trying to explore the area as much as possible. SLC feels more like a big town than a city, and it’s not a bad thing. There’s plenty of cool hiking trails in the Wasatch Range in the city’s backyard that I’m eager to check out and there’s plenty of museums and other things to occupy my time. I’ve never lived in a place so dominated by one religious sect, so that’s been a new and interesting experience for me as well.

Overall, I’m looking forward to this field season and contributing to the SOS network of native seeds!

-Corinne Schroeder

Trading Mountains and Sage for Iron Hills and Deciduous Trees

It’s Christmas Eve and I am back in Jersey after the four-day trek from Buffalo, Wyoming. As I left Buffalo and the Bighorns got ever more distant in the rearview, I couldn’t help but feel sentimental (ok, and a little choked up, I admit) about my time spent at the Buffalo Field Office and exploring Wyoming. The past 8 months have been nothing short of amazing!


The last month of my internship consisted of updating and hunting down correct information for the RIPS database (range improvements), observing a pile burn with the remaining fire crew (super cool!), and scanning photos that were as old as I was into the computer. I also had the opportunity to attend the Petroleum Association of Wyoming’s Reclamation Conference in Casper to hear about how different monitoring technologies, treatments, and other reclamation efforts are effecting pesky species such as cheatgrass and medusa head. One of our own, Dusty, also gave a speech on how AIM was a useful tool in monitoring efforts, so that was pretty neat.



I knew coming out West would be a very different experience. As an East Coast person, the pace of life, lesser volumes of people, and wide open lands were something I had to adjust to. It was nice to live in a traffic-free and more friendly environment for the majority of the year! I also knew I would learn a lot and hopefully further narrow down what I want to do with my career. Between all the trainings and then being able to get a whopping 30+ AIM sites accomplished with Nick, the summer 2016 field season was a success (despite the wind and the extreme dryness).

Over the course of this internship, my botany skills have improved greatly. While I wouldn’t consider myself an expert (yet!), it’s definitely become more interesting to me and I look forward to further improving upon those skills at whatever job or internship comes my way next. I’m also proud to say I never once accidentally sat on a cactus while working on our AIM sites, which may seem silly, but was a small personal victory.

I definitely will miss being able to escape into the mountains and working in such a great field office. When I think of Wyoming, I’ll be able to smell the sage and remember the mountains, badlands, and high plains. Nick and I had the good fortune of working in some cool country, seeing public lands that are difficult to access. The places we saw are rarely seen by others, and I’ll always be grateful of the opportunity to have spent time in those places. So, with that being said, it’s been a wonderful time and I can’t thank the CLM program enough for giving me this incredible chance!

Photo courtesy of Justin, legendary BLM intern

-Corinne Schroeder, Buffalo Field Office

Another Month, Another Post

With about a month left to go, I have started to reflect on all that has happened since I made the move to come out here. I’ll save those reflections for my last post though.

The past month has consisted of office work for the most part. I’m getting (slightly) better at finding and mapping fences on GIS, which has been the main project these days. I’m grateful that Google Earth exists for the times the map layer on GIS isn’t ideal. When I’m not fence mapping, it seems like the office is a-buzz with someone’s birthday or a going-away gathering. I’ve come to enjoy the atmosphere in this field office. Everyone I have talked to has been extremely friendly and willing to help if I ask them a question.

The few times I have been able to get out of the office were to finish weeding the last plot up at Welch (wooooo!) and to help my mentor with the (re)installation of a gate at a frustrating fence site. It’s safe to say that that was my first time installing a gate of any kind and while it wasn’t rocket science, it did require some thought, measurements, and re-adjustments (as well as some girl muscle!). The gate day also reminded me that unfortunately, people can be really disappointing. Our gate-duty doubled as a chance for my mentor to look at and address some issues she had with a contractor who was supposed to put in a new fence around some BLM property. To make a long story short, the contractors did a horrendous job, tried to hide a huge pile of garbage, and were super rude (in my opinion) when my mentor was speaking to them. Their behavior reminded me of some unsavory customers I often had to deal with when I was working as a barista. Needless to say, I was impressed at how she handled the situation, as sometimes it is hard to maintain your cool when these things happen.

Gate installation complete!

Gate installation complete!

Not much else to report except that I am taking full advantage of this unseasonably warm weather to squeeze in some hikes before some serious snow falls on the Bighorns.

Until Next Time,

Corinne Schroeder
Buffalo, Wyoming BLM Field Office

Is It Awkward If Nick and I post In The Same Day?

Well, coincidentally Nick also chose this day to post on the blog, so here goes making a post that isn’t so redundant! Wish me luck…

Wrapping up AIM

With our AIM sites wrapped up in early August and a healthy layer of dust coating the truck we’ve been using, it looked like Nick and I were settling in for the office life. Luckily, various people around the office had some small projects for us to do or help out on, and Nick and I typically jump on those opportunities faster than you can say “I’ve never seen Longmire”.

An ongoing project has been to help a former CBG intern-turned-grad-student on her experimental plot at Welch Ranch Recreation Area. Damen and Justin typically help us out with this as well, because it is incredible how all of the plots are basically weeds. Trying to pull out bindweed, get the roots, and leave the grasses that she actually planted in the plot intact has been quite the challenge. Luckily, an interesting discussion, banter, or moments of temporary insanity help pass the time while grappling with all the bindweed, Russian thistle, and various other weeds.

Other projects have included learning how to map NISIMS species, cheatgrass monitoring, and helping teach a local high school’s field trip. During the NISIMS trips, we have been pretty lucky to see some awesome moths and butterflies, as well as interesting mushrooms as a result of one of the first entirely rainy days here in the high plains. I also narrowly avoided stepping on not one, but two snakes that I could have sworn were funny-looking sticks. At least they weren’t rattlers!

Hera buckmoth found on a NISIMS excursion

Hera buckmoth found on a NISIMS excursion

Legendary BLM intern Justin showing Nick how NISIMS is done via Trimble

Legendary BLM intern, Justin, showing Nick how NISIMS is done via Trimble

Office work has been…office work. After all the data entry into DIMA had been entered, it was time to print and file it. Not the most exciting of tasks, but necessary none the less. I will say, the benefit of now being mostly in the office is that I can actually use a restroom when nature calls instead of scouting out an acceptable shrub to duck behind. Luckily, the current NISIMS project seems to be much bigger than anticipated, so Nick and I could be looking at more field time in the near future to break up the monotony of the cubicles.

Free-time Well Spent

Recently, I had the pleasure of showing my mom and sister around my little corner of Wyoming. After not seeing them for 5 months, it was awesome to grab them from the airport and do some things I have been meaning to do since arriving in Buffalo. While my mom was in town, we visited a neat little place called the Brinton Museum. This small museum features many Native American artifacts as well as local artwork and has a delicious cafe! We then had a slightly competitive game of Cosmic Bowling (read: glow bowling) at the local bowling alley that was something out of the Big Lebowski. After mom left, my sister and I had the chance to be outdoorsy. We hiked around the Cloud Peak Wilderness Area on an awesome trail, ending up at a very scenic lake. This was followed in the next couple of days by visiting a dinosaur museum & hot springs park in Thermopolis (dino museum was beyond awesome for such a small town!) and trekking out to Devil’s Tower in the Eastern part of the state. I was sad to see them leave, but grateful they could visit!

The Dinosaur Center in Thermopolis has one of two Archaeoptyrex fossils in the world on display!

The Dinosaur Center in Thermopolis has one of two Archaeoptyrex fossils in the world on display!

A bubbling hot spring in Hot Springs State Park

A bubbling hot spring in Hot Springs State Park

Admiring Devil's Tower

Admiring Devil’s Tower

Other brief highlights of the past couple of months:
-Hiking around and checking out some sweet waterfalls in the Bighorns
-Finding out about a free concert in Lander that featured Lake Street Dive
-Summiting a peak in the Wind River Range
-Relaxing by Lake DeSmet during the hot days of August
-Participating in a pick-up soccer league the town had for the duration of the summer
-Attending my first pow-wow

I believe that about covers things for now!

Forever Weeding,

Corinne Schroeder
BLM’s Buffalo Field Office

Getting into the Swing of Things in Wyo

Life in Buffalo has been an adventure so far. After what seemed like a lifetime of trainings, my co-intern, Nick, and I finally were able to begin going to our monitoring sites. Before we started going to our AIM sites on our own, we spent some time going out with the entire Range crew as they did their assessments of past year’s monitoring sites. This was not only a great way to practice our plant ID, but also a good way to learn about soils and other qualities of the land. It also gave us some insight as to what they’ll be looking for a year from now when they return to the sites Nick and I monitor this field season.

Arnie, the soil scientist in our office, showing us how it’s done. What a guy!

Some highlights of the past month or so:

-Getting stuck behind a herd of sheep on our way to an AIM site, and quite the massive herd at that…

-Camping for a week to accomplish AIM sites at the Hole in the Wall on BLM land.

-Meeting up over the Fourth of July weekend with some interns I met in Chicago (at the CBG training) and the Rocksprings training to camp and celebrate the holiday.

-Spending my free time hiking, camping, and exploring the Bighorn Mountains/National Forest as well as exploring other cool towns in Wyoming such as Lander and Sheridan. The picture below is of one of the various gorgeous wild flower meadows on the edge of the National Forest and the Cloud Peak Wilderness Area.

-Meeting all different kinds of people during my travels as well as in town since Buffalo is a tourist stop of some sort during the summer for people on their way to Yellowstone.

Time seems to be flying due to how busy I am, but I’m truly enjoying it. The learning hasn’t only been limited to plants and BLM related things but it’s also been useful to hone my skills as a camper (although if I am being honest, I still have a lot to learn in that department), learning to drive a truck on somewhat sketchy roads, and appreciating the Western lifestyle.

Until Next Time,

Corinne Schroeder
Buffalo BLM Field Office

Roaming Wyoming

As a newbie to the West, coming to Wyoming has been quite the adventure. The mountains! The badlands! Fossils! More cows than people! My time as a CLM intern has been rather short so far, roughly about a week. During this time, I have been a part of AIM training in Rocksprings, a hefty 5-6 hour drive from our Buffalo BLM office. This training emphasizes a protocol for collecting data that will be useful to certain projects that the BLM has going on and was a great way to learn new skills and techniques that will be put into practice once our team gets back to Buffalo. I’m looking forward to the work I’ll be doing through this internship and also to exploring the lovely state of Wyoming!


Corinne Schroeder

Buffalo BLM Field Office