5 months in the desert, I can’t believe it’s almost over and that I’m writing my last blog post. I have just a few days left and then I pack all my things into my car along with my two cats and head back across California to the North Coast, about 860 miles away. It’s a bit scary too because I have not yet found a job and am currently planning on living off my savings from this internship. More than that though, I feel a great sadness, that I’m about to leave all this behind. It’s been 5 months and I am now familiar with the land, the plants, I know my way around, I know the people, the politics and feel very vested in this project. I defiantly plan on keeping in touch with my mentor and with the field office here to see how everyone is and how the project goes.
I am currently helping to edit a document that summarizes our summers worth of vegetation monitoring out at Dos Palmas. Other current projects include conducting ACEC (Area of Critical Environmental Concern) monitoring. We just went to the desert Lily Preserve last week and did an evaluation of the land. It looked really good out there. I have also wrapped up the seasons SOS work, sending in our last collection, wrapping up and sending in the vouchers we collected, and packing things away with good notes for next years intern.
I hope to get a field job this coming spring somewhere in the Pacific North West region, though at the same time one thing I have learned with this internship is that I am more of a long term person and as such would like a permanent position some place. Leaving and saying good bye is difficult, and when you have become attached to the land it’s even harder.
This is only the first chapter of my post college life. I am beyond excited to see where I go from here, weather that is back to school for a higher degree, to work who knows where, or what, I just know it will be fantastic. One thing this internship has really showed me is that I love working, and there are really honestly and truly jobs out there that will hire me where I can make a difference and contribute to something that I believe benefits everyone.
I learned so many things this summer, including how to use a plant press to make herbarium vouchers!!!
A long time ago my grandma asked me if I had all the money in the world what would I do? I said (thinking of the central valley of California and extending up all the way into the mountains eastward) that I would like to own thousands of acres and restore the land with native plant and animal species, including reintroducing mega fauna. Possibly build a large stone wall around the huge strip of land and reintroduce fire to the landscape in regular and healthy intervals. She said I was crazy and that was just a dream, maybe so, but now that I’m here and working at the BLM I feel like I have actually found that dream. There are thousands of acres of wild lands, millions in fact. I get to work and help restore them, protect them, and maintain them. I get to work on native seed collections for future restoration efforts and scientific research. I feel that I am living my dream actualized (and this is only my first job out of college!!!!!). I would love some day to become a a full time and permanent BLM employee.
Thank you Chicago Botanic Garden.
You have done more for me than you could ever know.
Crystal S. Neuenschwander
CLM Intern, BLM, Palm Springs, Ca