It was an incredible season. That’s really all there is to it. I was able to do so many different things and meet so many new people to expand my knowledge and I am incredibly grateful for those opportunities. I will never forget my season at the BLM in Lander. It was wonderful. Life is moving on now, though.
I recently got a permanent position as a Natural Resources Analyst with the Land Quality Division of the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality in Lander. I am beyond excited to start this new adventure and see where it leads me. The natural resources field is where I know I need to be.
To keep it short and sweet, I will end this post by encouraging anyone out there who isn’t sure about applying for a job or taking an opportunity presented to them to just do it. Take the job, submit the application. It may be scary at first, but the majority of the people in these fields are some of the kindest people you will ever meet and are more than willing to help you along your way in any way they can. I thank the Chicago Botanic Garden Conservation and Land Management Internship for this last season. It was great!
It’s almost that time where the seasonal positions end and winter begins. This summer has been an absolute blast and I wish it didn’t have to end. The people I have had the opportunity to work with, the sights I have been able to see, and the skills I have learned have all left a huge impact on my life. Luckily, I get to stay in Lander because my husband has year round employment here. I don’t ever want to leave this place. Getting to know the field office was awesome. There are so many hidden beautiful places. It’s a secret gem that I wish more people knew about, but also want to stay hidden.
I don’t really know what to say right now. It’s always sad when the season comes to an end. I’ve been through it so many times now you would think that it might get easier. Unfortunately it doesn’t, at least not for me. Wyoming in general is an incredible place. If you’ve never been here, come take a look. You won’t regret it.
I’ve still got about a month left at work here. There’s going to be some seeding on a burn area, letting down a fence in an antelope migration path, and lots of office work. It’s all hard to say goodbye to. The picture below is of hoarfrost from a couple mornings ago. We went out early to clip small plots on some riparian areas and the whole field office seemed to be frozen in time. The sun came out, burned off the fog, and make the frost sparkle. It was beautiful. I’ll never forget moments like that. I hope you all have memories from this season that will stay with you forever. This is all worth it.
I’m going to assume that quite a few, if not most, of the people in the natural resources field grew up in a family that spent time in the outdoors. Whether it was camping, hiking, hunting, fishing, bird watching, or visiting National Parks, it seems that most people in this field are influenced by childhood memories. I know I am in this field because of my upbringing. My dad has worked for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for over 30 years, my mom owned a pet grooming business, and as a family we spent all our free time outside. I’m lucky and I know it. Now, I’m married to a man that currently works for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department doing some of the coolest research on bears and wolverines. Our free time together is spent outside, mostly hiking and fishing. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Unfortunately, not everyone was granted the opportunities to get outside and develop a love for the natural world.
I called this post “The Things We Take for Granted” because of a recent trip my husband and I took through Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks. To us, seeing a bison, elk, or bear is common. It doesn’t phase us. We were there for the scenery and hiking opportunities. Watching all the people there stop in the middle of the road to take a million pictures of a bison seemed silly. We were mad that the traffic was stopped all because of one – not that impressive – bison. But, then we got to thinking. How can people grow up and not know their animals? How can someone be in their 40’s and not know what the difference between a white-tail deer and a mule deer is? We had taken our upbringings and current experiences through our jobs for granted. We were fortunate that we had people in our lives that took us out into the woods and taught us more than a course in college ever could. We have backcountry skills. Seeing the other tourists in their yoga pants and flip flops in 45 degree weather makes us cringe. But, they don’t know any better.
My job with BLM this summer has allowed me to be outside almost every single day. Through rain or shine, I’m outside. I haven’t seen anything new in the way of wildlife, but I have gotten to know a new area that I have developed a love for. I get to watch the antelope fawns grow up. I get to see the circle of life feed a hungry golden eagle. I get to continue to be blessed to be outside and increase my knowledge of the natural world. I’m lucky and I know it. I know I take things for granted, but I know I’m one of the luckiest people in the world. I wouldn’t trade this life for anything. I hope all of you are enjoying your jobs this summer as much as I am and I hope you know just how lucky you are. Keep up the good work, everyone. The world is counting on us.
What does this mean to you? Wildlife and rangeland. Does it mean conflict of interest? Does it mean working together? Or does it mean two completely separate entities that should never have anything to do with each other? To me, they are one in the same. I have a Rangeland Management degree with an Option in Wildlife Management. Basically, this means that I took not only all of the range courses but all of the wildlife courses as well. I wish everyone had to do that.
Wildlife and rangelands need to go hand in hand. You can’t have one without the other. If you think you can, you’re kidding yourself. The BLM does a wonderful job of promoting multiple-use landscapes, and this includes wildlife. However, growing up in ranching communities, I know not everyone loves the idea of an elk eating their haystack. We moved into their space, not the other way around. I might sound preachy here, but it’s something that I feel more people need to understand. My internship this summer has allowed me to explore some absolutely beautiful and unique areas in Wyoming. I get to hang out in wide open spaces with little to no people within a 20 mile radius of me and little to no “improvements” on the landscape to ruin the view.
I’m lucky and I know it. Seeing exactly how the multiple-use landscape comes together is awesome. I have seen bikers, hikers, and horseback riders on the Continental Divide Trail, cows on rangeland, wildlife on rangeland, different agencies conducting research on BLM land, oil and gas exploration, and historical artifacts that take you back to the pioneer days. My passion will always be wildlife, but rangelands are important too. Maybe more important in many ways. There is beauty and importance in everything if you only take a look.
Well, I’m now two months into my position in the Lander, Wyoming field office and I love it! This place is amazing and the people are great. So far most of what I have been doing is monitoring riparian areas by taking photo points, stubble height measurements of two key species, and conducting bank trampling surveys. These riparian areas are in a very remote location in the field office, and I hardly ever see other people out and about. Recently, I have also started doing droop height measurements around wells and reservoirs to make sure that those aren’t being overgrazed as well. The next two weeks I will be working for another lady in the office doing a few different sampling methods that I haven’t done since college. It will be nice to refresh myself on how to conduct the surveys.
I’m continually amazed at how beautiful the landscape is that I’m working on. Most of the flowers are done blooming and the grasses are seeding out. But, that doesn’t take away from the beauty of the land one single bit. It’s such a diverse landscape! There are areas that are sandy and have natural lakes, rocky areas with seeps, clayey areas that will get you stuck in a heartbeat, and everything in between. The antelope are uncountable, the elk are a wonderful sight, the birds are singing beautifully, and the one coyote I have seen had a nice lunch of sage grouse. Probably the most surprising thing I have seen in the past two months was a six-legged sheep. Yes, a six-legged sheep. A picture should be attached to this post. I have always heard of that happening, but never thought I would see it myself. I have also attached a picture of a field of Wild Irises. They were at one of the riparian areas we are monitoring for bank trampling, stubble height, and photo points. The bugs were about to carry me away, but I couldn’t resist stopping for just a few seconds to snap a picture on my phone of the beautiful irises.
I look forward to continuing my internship for the next four months and learning so much more than I thought I ever would. BLM Wyoming has captured my heart and I hope to stay here for the rest of my life. I hope everyone else’s internships are going well and that you are as happy as I am. 🙂
Blogging is something I have never done before and never thought I would be doing today. I always saw “bloggers” as the people who sit in their houses all day and write about things that are of no importance to me or anyone else. My views have changed as the years have gone on, but I still thought I would never be writing one. Boy, life is strange. I am currently working for the Chicago Botanic Garden as a Conservation and Land Management Intern through the Bureau of Land Management in Lander, Wyoming. Never been there? You’re missing out. Of all the places I have lived, it is my absolute favorite. There is never a shortage of fun activities to do. In the winter you can cross country ski, skate ski, snowshoe, downhill ski, backcountry ski, snowmobile, hike, ice fish, etc., etc., etc. The list for summer is even longer. The trailhead for the tallest peak in Wyoming is not very far away and the fishing in the Wind River Mountains is absolutely incredible. The people are nice and always willing to help you even if they have no idea who you are. But, to get back to my internship… I have never worked for the BLM before and wasn’t sure how it would go. So far I absolutely love it. I get to be outside all day every day in remote country where the chances of running into other people are low. There are elk, deer, antelope, moose, coyotes, birds of all kinds, and a whole host of different bugs to be seen. The flora is even more impressive than the fauna. I will be monitoring several riparian areas to determine use by grazers and overall health of the area.
Being my first blog, I really don’t know what to tell you other than what is written above. I’m not a long winded person. Straight, to the point, short and sweet, blah, blah, blah. I hope everyone is having a great start to their summer and I look forward to meeting some of you at the upcoming CLM training workshop in Chicago. Till then, see ya!
BLM – Lander, Wyoming