Hard Decisions…

Another CLM Internship comes to an end for me. It has been a summer of new friendships, learning opportunities, and experiences. I reflect back on everything with happiness in my heart, but I can’t help feeling a little melancholy at having to say goodbye. Regardless, I look to the future with renewed vigor.

This summer’s projects have been nothing short of amazing. From learning all about endangered sucker fish species and assisting in efforts to restore their populations to helping out with wolves and Oregon Spotted Frogs. I ventured into the most beautiful regions of Oregon and met people whom I hope to have in my life for a long time. My resume grew exponentially and so did I.

Checking wolf cameras in Fremont-Winema National Forest

The same forest after driving 1000 feet higher in elevation! Beautiful!

I graduated college two years ago with the expectation that I would land a full-time, permanent job pretty easily, as I assume most college graduates expect. I mean, I have the shiny degree now, so how could I not easily land a job!? I am everything an employer is looking for!! Was I ever wrong. As thankful as I am to the Chicago Botanic Garden for giving me this incredible opportunity two years in a row, I have found that it is very hard to live when you don’t know what you’ll be doing six months from now. It is a constant stressor. I seek stability.

I have applied and applied and applied and I cannot seem to get even an INTERVIEW. I feel as though I have tried my hardest for the last two years to get a full-time, permanent job in wildlife or botany and that it is time to set that endeavor aside for now. I do believe very strongly in never giving up on your dreams, but sometimes you have to make a decision that is smart and looks out for your future self.

That is why I have decided to re-enlist with the Air Force. The Air National Guard to be exact. I previously served six years with the Kansas Air National Guard, which was a very positive experience and it allowed me to get my degree and graduate debt-free (very thankful for that, I can’t even imagine surviving these last two years with insurmountable debt). There is a guard unit right here in Klamath Falls, Oregon where I did my internship, so I will be staying here for a little bit longer 🙂

I feel very good about this decision. Although I am saddened about putting my dreams of Conservation aside for now, I am looking forward to the future. The career field I am moving into with the Air Force will be in Bioenvironmental Engineering, so I can help the environment in a small way while helping people and getting to do research and science. Things I really care about. This opportunity will be a good one. I can earn veteran status if I deploy (I didn’t deploy in my previous enlistment so technically I am not considered a veteran) so that if I choose to get out after the four year enlistment, I will have preference when applying for jobs on usajobs. I will also receive 12-months of additional school benefits which would pay for half of a Master’s if I decided to pursue that option. A new career field will be opened up to me so I will have even greater options when applying for jobs. I can also choose to be a drill-status guardsmen if I don’t want to work full-time for the military and then I can go work full-time in the civilian world if I wanted to.

All in all, the military is going to give me great stability. I will be able to start putting money towards my retirement fund, which is a big thing that young people really need to take into consideration. I will have extra money to put into investments. I will be able to travel. I am really looking forward to this next chapter in life!

Thank you to the Chicago Botanic Garden for providing me with this fantastic internship two years in a row! I cannot even begin to express all of the thanks that I have.

“At the end of the day, you’re responsible for yourself and your actions and that’s all you can control. So rather than be frustrated with what you can’t control, try to fix the things you can.” -Kevin Garnett

Marissa Jager – U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Klamath Falls, OR

I’m Going On An Adventure!

Not much has changed here at the Klamath Falls Field Office, so I thought I would include a million photos of some of my favorite things I have seen and done in Oregon over the last several months!

Umpqua National Forest is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been in my life! Filled with waterfalls, rushing rivers, deserted campgrounds, and crystalline lakes, it is a dream.

The North Umpqua trail!

Umpqua hot springs has the best views

Toketee Falls is one of my favorite waterfalls in Oregon!

Lemolo Lake at sunset was an absolute dream.

If anyone is passing through Oregon and hasn’t experienced Umpqua National Forest, you absolutely must!

Off of the McKenzie Highway, east of Eugene, you will find enough waterfalls to last you a very, very long time! There are more popular falls right off of the road and there are more discreet falls you can spend several days backpacking to. I haven’t been able to spend near as much time there as I would like, but I’ve included a couple of pictures of some of my favorite sights.

Proxy falls is my favorite waterfall I’ve ever had the joy of hiking to!

The Tamolitch Blue Pool is a very cold 37 degrees! I did swim in it for about…. 5 seconds 😀

The last adventure that has really stuck in my mind from this summer is the first time I went rock climbing OUTSIDE on REAL ROCKS! Oh boy! The other intern I am working with, Jeff, purchased a butt load of climbing gear and we went out and had a grand adventure!

Climbing rocks and stuff

A beautiful view of Northern California after climbing to the top of a spire at Castle Crags!

I am looking forward to more adventures and fun times in Oregon!

Marissa – Klamath Falls Field Office – U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Fun galore!

Currently, Oregon is LIT! As in it is literally on fire. Here in Klamath Falls we’ve had about a solid month of smoke-filled skies. It is heart-breaking that so many forests are being burned down (usually at the hands of inconsiderate folks) and hopefully things will begin to clear up soon with the weather getting a little bit cooler. Because of this, it has been slightly difficult to get out in the field at some points. We have made due, though, and there is much to share! Yippee!

Jeff and I were working on a little project at the Lower Klamath Wildlife Refuge that ended up being a bit of a disaster. We placed 300 juvenile sucker fish in controlled nets at different levels of the water column to observe what might happen and when we headed out to the ponds a week later to check on them, EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. WAS. GONE. We found a couple of holes that must have been snagged during the placement of the nets that the fish escaped through. So long as the fish are alive and well, it’s quite alright. Science doesn’t always work like it’s supposed to.

My field supervisor put together a rather exciting field trip to Crater Lake National Park. We were taken out on a research boat for a private tour by David Hering and Mark Buktenica with the National Park Service. We were told all about the creation of the crater, the crystalline water, and several interesting odds and ends associated with the park. We eventually made our way out to Wizard Island, which is a small caldera (within the large caldera that is Crater Lake, CRAZY!) and we got to hike to the top. The 360-degree views of Crater Lake were breathtaking.

My field office posing for a group photo in front of Phantom Ship!

On top of Wizard Island!

I also want to give a shout out to my field Supervisor, Laurie, AGAIN, for putting together an awesome field trip to the Klamath Marsh to watch the eclipse. We weren’t in the path of the eclipse for totality, but we got to see it at 94% which was pretty incredible. It was wonderful getting to share the experience with everyone from my field office. Laughs were shared, new acquaintances were made, and enough food was eaten to feed a small village (I also got a bit sick after eating 7 cookies)!

(from left to right)
Emily, me, Jeff, and Sam gettin’ weird at the eclipse!

Aside from all of the amazing adventures my field office and I have been fortunate enough to have, Jeff and I have partaken in a few activities in the last month. We have done some electro-fishing, stream survey’s, wolf tracking with ODFW, and monitoring a few streams and lakes.

Getting sensual with my dip net 😀

I want to give a HUGE shout out to CLM for being such an incredible internship program and allowing me the opportunity to be a part of something so amazing. I’m pretty sure I end every single blog post this exact same way, but there really aren’t enough thanks to be said. Oregon is amazing. This field office is amazing. Life is pretty amazing!

Marissa – Klamath Falls Field Office – U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

(Insert witty title here)


Things have tamed down a little bit here at the Klamath Field Office. Most of the projects that usually take place during the season, aren’t, so Jeff and I have been delving into some new projects of our own.

One such project that I’ve started working on involves taking x-rays of sucker fish and categorizing them by number of vertebrates. Eventually, the x-rays that I’ve saved will be used in morphometric analysis in order to see the shapes of specific types of species of sucker fish! How cool!

Another project involves taking juvenile sucker fish to some designated ponds and performing an experiment to see what results in the highest levels of survival. We designed four floating cages with three smaller cages inside each of those. The cages will float at the surface of the water and the fish will be placed inside. Each of the smaller cages will provide a controlled environment where we can manipulate what is taking place inside. We are thinking we will have our control (nothing in the cage), a cage with vegetation, and a cage with only silt on the bottom. We are really looking forward to getting this project rolling!

From these same ponds, we have been collecting water samples and observing zooplankton under microscopes. We have looked at a LOT. OF. ZOOPLANKTON. They are incredibly interesting, though, and really get the wheels turning about how often you forget about this magical microscopic world that is happening all around you all of the time (and also of all of the strange creatures that swim in the water with you).

Yesterday, Jeff and I went electro-fishing at Gerber Reservoir in Northern California and it was my first time! We didn’t get any suckers, but we got a few minnows. It was great practice for future electro-fishing. We also came across some petroglyphs and got to do some hiking along a stream making observations and twiddling away in our notebooks.

All work and no play makes Marissa a dull girl.

Other than work shenanigans, life in Oregon has been pretty spectacular! I’ve been trying to explore as much as possible! Jeff and I just got some piercings, too (his ear lobe and my nose)! Klamath Falls is a fun city with a great night life and a lot of recreational activities in the area. I couldn’t ask for anything more 🙂

Marissa – Klamath Falls, OR – U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Getting Klammy in Klamath Falls

I am so late on my blog post because I have been busy, busy, busy!!

The last month and a half since my last blog post has been full of crazy awesome happenings! We have had projects galore here at the Klamath Falls Field Office and I just got back from an incredible American Association for the Advancement of Science conference on the Big Island of Hawaii!

The AAAS Conference was everything I’d hoped it to be. The conference was located at the Hawaii Preparatory Academy which included several lecture halls, a dining facility, outdoors facility and dorm rooms. Because everyone was able to stay right there on campus, it created a very tight-knit environment. I got to meet all of the speakers, admins, AAAS employees and organizers, and so many more! I feel as though this allowed me to network a lot better. I made some wonderful friends and connections while I was there that I’m hoping will allow me some opportunities in future endeavors!

What I really loved the most about this conference is that it hosted a wide range of the latest research in science topics from Environmental Science to Anthropology and from Psychology to Conservation Biology! I sat through some incredibly interesting presentations about hammerhead shark conservation, algorithms for conservation biology, and the death of the Hawaiian Ohi’a tree. Seeing everyone’s passion for their research has me really motivated about specializing and pursuing a Master’s degree (and maybe one day doing a presentation of my own at this conference!). Doing research or working in conservation in Hawaii is one of my ultimate goals! The islands are so secluded and their wildlife populations so specific to the island that conservation is of huge concern there. It would be so rewarding to be able to make a difference for such a unique and beautiful place! I want to thank Chicago Botanic Garden and my mentor for allowing me the opportunity to do my alternative training at this educational and unforgettable conference. It has been one of the most incredible experiences of my life!

A really beautiful hike that I got to do around the conference in Waimea, Hawaii!

On top of the excitement of the conference I attended, we have worked on several projects here at the field office! One such project led Jeff and I into the Fremont-Winema National Forest to check for evidence of cattle grazing in the riparian areas of the North Fork Sprague and Sycan Rivers. Lo and behold, we found evidence of those darned cows, trampling around where they weren’t supposed to be! Photos and GPS points documenting where everything was should hopefully lead to future projects and initiatives to keep those cows out!

Fremont-Winema National Forest is rull pretty! Working here wasn’t so bad!

A second project that we were very fortunate to help out on with was with Canada Goose banding! Early in the morning we had about eight kayaks and two air boats go out on the water while everyone else stood along the shore lines to deter the birds from fleeing onto the road or into vegetation. Using the air boats and kayaks, we corralled the birds into one large sitting group in the center of the lake. After that, the air boats and kayaks “pushed” the geese into a large net at the other end of the lake. This mostly amounted to us slowly paddling behind them while they nonchalantly swim into our trap 🙂 After the birds are all rounded up, we take each bird and sex it and band it! It was such an experience unlike any other! I am so thankful for the opportunity to be able to work on such a fun project!

Banding a Canadian Goose!

How hilarious is this photo? Me driving an air boat for my first time. Yes, I am yelling.

Aside from these fun little side projects, Jeff and I have been working on a couple of bigger projects that should keep us busy for the entirety of the summer. One of them involves taking endangered larval sucker fish and testing them in different scenarios (having or not having vegetation, etc.) at our ponds to test for rates of survival. A second project involves using a computer program to trace around the heads and mouths of sucker fish to create an analysis for future identification. Both should involve some scientific writing and statistics so that is exciting (I need a refresher)!

So far this internship is exceeding my expectations! I’ve been able to add a plethora of experience to my resume. I’ve started applying for several jobs and I should be taking the GRE within the next couple of months so that I can apply for some graduate programs. The future is unknown, but I am hopeful and excited!

Marissa – Klamath Falls Field Office – U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Suckers and Pelicans and Frogs… Oh My!!

Is it even possible to cram this last months activities into one blog post? Not likely, but I will do my best.

I left Kansas at the beginning of April with my 5th-wheel trailer and two kitty cats in tow. With my internship starting in a couple of weeks, I decided to have myself a little adventure getting out to Oregon. I followed two strangers into the wilderness of New Mexico to a community of hippies (you could call this reckless behavior), I was humbled by the enormity of the Grand Canyon, I wore the soles of my shoes thin hiking around Zion National Park, and I nearly lost my home in Death Valley. All in all, the adventure was off to a pretty good start.

Bringing the ol’ home out to Oregon!

The Subway at Zion National Park

The adventure continued upon my arrival to Klamath Falls, Oregon and my first day at the field office! Introductions were made and I thanked my lucky stars for getting such an awesome mentor and group of coworkers. I established myself at a local RV park and took a tour of the town and surrounding areas. Wow, is this a pretty area! I can hardly even believe that I get to spend 6 months here!

Upper Klamath Lake- home to thousands of endangered suckers!

Rogue River National Forest is a large forest outside of Klamath Falls!

One of the first projects my fellow CLM compadre, Jeff, and I were given was assisting with the juvenile, endangered Lost River Suckers and Shortnose Suckers at the local fish hatchery. We started out by preparing the juveniles for release. Several days were spent going through each juvenile (over 1,000) and measuring, weighing, and checking for PIT tags on the fish. Once every fish had its data recorded and tags were ensured, the fish were taken to two separate locations and released. It was pretty incredible getting to be a part of the final release. You get to stand back and take in all of the work that went into that particular batch. Quite rewarding, if I do say so myself.

Me, neckless, on the right, measuring a juvenile sucker. Jeff, on the left, is checking the Ranger for PIT tags.

Jeff measuring one of the babies! So cute! (They are very squirmy.)

The transportation tank used to move the juveniles from the hatchery to the release site.

Releasing some juvenile suckers into Klamath Lake

Another project that we were fortunate enough to help out on about once a week was with the Bureau of Reclamation netting adult Lost River suckers and Shortnose suckers from Lake Ewauna for transportation to the Williamson River where better spawning habitat is offered. The nets were laid very early in the morning and pulled out of the water several hours later. This entails someone driving the boat while two people pull each side of the net out of the water and into the boat. Data is recorded for what species of fish are captured and any suckers are kept in a holding tank on the boat. We always have a good time when we are out with the Bureau of Reclamation guys. From ridiculous jokes to a group of American White Pelicans that follow us around, we are never short on laughter.

This group of American White Pelicans always follows us around in hopes of getting a fishy snack from us

Jeff and Brock pulling in one of the nets

Jeff and I have also been helping out with Oregon Spotted Frog surveys! Seven mile creek is located in beautiful Winema National Forest about an hour outside of town. The first time we went out we didn’t have any luck in finding egg sacks or adult frogs (unless you call it lucky that we still got to hike several miles in the wilderness, uh heck yea). BUT upon returning to the site a couple of weeks later when it was warmer, we came across several egg sacks and adult frogs! Data sheets were filled out with site locations, stages of the embryos (these were all hatching!), specific measurements, etc, pictures were captured, and GPS points were taken. It was a beautiful, sunny day in good company and not much more could be asked for.

Seven Mile Creek. More like seven miles of the most beautiful forest I’ve ever seen!!!

Adult Oregon Spotted Frog and bottom right is an egg sack full of hatching larvae!

What else are you supposed to do when you come across bear scat?!

The most recent project that Jeff and I have been helping out on is with larval sucker collections. This involves us getting to the office at 3AM, driving out to the site, throwing some plankton nets into the water and catching little tiny larval suckers! They are then transported to the local fish hatchery to be treated and raised into larger juveniles for later release. You have to be extremely careful when handling the larvae or moving them from one tank to the other because they are very sensitive to changes in water temperature (kind of like me with the cold lol). The perks to being in the field at 3 in the morning is that you have some seriously beautiful sunrises. It’s hard to not be completely content in moments like those.

Dip netting later in the morning for larval suckers

My experience so far with this internship is nothing short of amazing! I am so thankful for this opportunity to acquire knowledge, meet wonderful people, and immerse myself in some new adventures. I am looking forward to what is to come and getting to share my experiences with those who will listen. 🙂

Marissa- Klamath Falls Field Office- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service


Goodbye to Shoshone-igans!

Everyone from this summer before entering Gypsum cave.

Everyone from this summer before entering Gypsum cave.

Things are coming to an end. The leaves are falling off of the trees. The plants are curling in on themselves. The sun is drifting farther and farther away. And my internship is passing along the last of its knowledge as I wrap up in Shoshone and prepare for my departure. It is a time for reflection.

My resume has grown exponentially as I’ve added experience in various vegetative protocols, Seeds of Success activities, and a multitude of side projects allowing me to dabble in new experiences. Most recently, my fellow interns, fuels crews, and I collected 235 lbs. of sagebrush seeds! We delivered them to Lucky Peak Nursery in Boise for cleaning. The seeds will be planted and grown into seedlings for future restoration projects!

All 235 lbs. of sagebrush seeds we collected!

All 235 lbs. of sagebrush seeds we collected!

The future is hopeful, yet slightly grim right now. I was unable to lock on a job so I will be heading back to Kansas for the winter. I will find some work in my college town and I’m going to look around for some volunteer opportunities in wildlife to gain more experience. I am going to buckle down and study hard for the GRE and take the test this winter. I would love to get a Master’s program in bat conservation (thank you to this internship for introducing me a little bit to bats)! I would love an opportunity to do this internship program again next summer, so there is that to look forward to, too!

I will miss the West in the mean time and hope to return as soon as I can! Living life in my 5th-wheel trailer makes picking up and moving easy.

I am so thankful for this internship and all of the experiences I’ve been fortunate enough to have. I will never forget the people I’ve met at my field office nor the beautiful lands of Idaho. I have been so inspired by this state that I hope to live here one day in the future. Idaho is a best kept secret. Thank you to the staff, the Chicago Botanic Garden, and my fellow interns for making this such an incredible experience!

Everyone from this summer before entering Gypsum cave.

Everyone from this summer before entering Gypsum cave.

Marissa Jager – Shoshone Field Office – Idaho

The Girl With the Sagebrush Tattoo

Many happenings have taken place since my last blog post! I turned 25 years old, I biked across the Idaho Panhandle, plus had a few other grand adventures, I attended The Wildlife Society Annual Conference, and I’ve had to say goodbye to two interns here at the field office.

For my birthday at the end of September I decided to take myself on a bicycling trip across the Idaho Panhandle on one of the most beautiful rail trails in the Pacific Northwest! I cycled the farthest I ever have: 150  miles. I broke it up into 3 days. This adventure was one of the highlights of my life! I saw a male, female and baby moose, I received countless saddle sores from all of the biking, and saw panoramic views like any I’ve ever seen. And the best part is that it was during autumn so the leaves were as pretty as they could be!

"Autumn shows us how beautiful it is to let things go." This is the rail trail in the Idaho Panhandle that I biked.

“Autumn shows us how beautiful it is to let things go.” This is the rail trail in the Idaho Panhandle that I biked.

After completing 150 miles across the Idaho Panhandle!

After completing 150 miles across the Idaho Panhandle!

An intern and I went on an adventure through the Idaho Sawtooth mountains to Alpine and Sawtooth Lakes. What a view!

An intern and I went on an adventure through the Idaho Sawtooth mountains to Alpine and Sawtooth Lakes. What a view!

Just a few days ago I got home after spending 7 days in Raleigh, North Carolina for The Wildlife Society Annual Conference! I cannot thank this internship enough for allowing me to attend this conference! I networked extensively, received great feedback on my resume, attended a forestry workshop where I got hands-on training that I hope to apply to my job one day, tested my wildlife knowledge at the annual quiz-bowl, and attended 3 field trips to surrounding areas in North Carolina! I took in the Hemlock Bluffs and the beautiful long-leaf pine forest as I rode by horse-drawn wagon through the trees with bagpipes playing in the background (yes, there was an Irish man playing the bagpipes for us, it completed my day), but my absolute favorite field trip was to the Duke Lemur Center where I learned about their conservation efforts to preserve these beautiful creatures and got up close to the Coquerel’s Sifaka lemur! If you are interested in finding a wonderful organization to donate to, SAVA Conservation is the place!

Coquerel's Sifaka lemur! So cute!

Coquerel’s Sifaka lemur! So cute!

Here at the field office we’ve been getting a lot of rain so it’s been preventing us from getting out into the field as often as we would like. We’ve been catching up on a lot of data entry, though, and having a lot of laughs with our co-workers. We recently lost an intern because she received a “big-girl” job. We were all sad to see her go, but happy at the same time because she was so happy. We lost our only male, too, because he finished his internship. It is just myself and two others now! We are slowly dwindling (sad face)!

For my last note, I wanted to mention how hilarious it was when we went out into the field the other day and found a BATHTUB! Yes, a bathtub. We find strange things in the desert sometimes. It wasn’t just a ditched bathtub either, it was cemented into the rock and had stairs built up to it lol. The chrome even looked freshly cleaned. Hey, people will do what people do, can’t blame them for wanting a bath with a view! (I rhymed, giggity.)


Marissa- Shoshone Field Office- Idaho

Good Times Ensue

I have written all about the work that takes place here at the Shoshone Field Office, so I thought I would go into a few details about some of the amazing adventures I’ve been fortunate enough to have while living in Idaho!

Within the beautiful state of Idaho itself I’ve experienced several miles of trails throughout the Sawtooth, Boise and Salmon-Challis National Forests. I’ve biked the 25-mile Boise River Greenbelt, which is a rail trail running through the city and extends outside of the city both ways. I’ve kayaked the Snake River in Twin Falls to beach caves, waterfalls and underwater lava tubes. I’ve gazed upon dozens of breathtaking waterfalls all throughout the state and I have big plans to bike the 71 miles of paved path from high mountain splendor, through the historic Silver Valley into the chain lakes region, along the shore of Lake Coeur d’Alene, over the Chatcolet Bridge to Heyburn State Park, and finally climbing to the Palouse prairie in the Idaho Panhandle sometime soon!

Alpine Lake in the Sawtooth National Forest

Alpine Lake in the Sawtooth National Forest

Biking the Boise River Greenbelt rail trail

Biking the Boise River Greenbelt rail trail

The Boise river off of the Boise River Greenbelt rail trail

The Boise river off of the Boise River Greenbelt rail trail

Kayaking the Snake River to beach caves, underwater lava tubes, and waterfalls!

Kayaking the Snake River to beach caves, underwater lava tubes, and waterfalls!

Inside one of the beach caves on the Snake River during my kayaking trip.

Inside one of the beach caves on the Snake River during my kayaking trip.

Can you find me? Taking in Shoshone Falls in Twin Falls, Idaho

Can you find me? Taking in Shoshone Falls in Twin Falls, Idaho

Mt. Borah! The tallest peak in Idaho at 12,662 ft. I gave the peak my best effort but I chickened out at the notorious "Chicken-out Ridge" one thousand feet from the summit

Mt. Borah! The tallest peak in Idaho at 12,662 ft. I gave the peak my best effort but I chickened out at the notorious “Chicken-out Ridge” one thousand feet from the summit

Outside of Idaho I have been lucky enough to see some pretty incredible sights. One of my favorites has been Glacier National Park! From panoramic views to frolicking wildlife, it is easily one of my favorite places in the world. I’ve visited the park two times and have put in over 50 miles of hiking. I have also biked a portion of the infamous “Going to the Sun Road.”  I have seen more bears than I ever have in my life (an adult grizzly bear, a grizzly bear cub, and a brown bear), four moose (one of them a baby!), two ptarmigan, several mountain goats (I even witnessed a male-to-male fight!), and one billion deer! The surrounding areas around Glacier National Park, including Flathead Lake and National Forest, Swan Valley, and several other lakes are all equally breathtaking. Montana took a small part of my heart.

The rocks at Glacier National Park are so rich in color!

The rocks at Glacier National Park are so rich in color!

The views on the Highline trail at Glacier National Park are unlike any I've ever seen.

The views on the Highline trail at Glacier National Park are unlike any I’ve ever seen.

Wild Goose Island at Glacier National Park!

Wild Goose Island at Glacier National Park!

Beautiful Iceberg Lake (minus the icebergs, I was too late in the season).

Beautiful Iceberg Lake (minus the icebergs, I was too late in the season).

Little grizzly bear cub!

Little grizzly bear cub!

Mother moose and her baby!

Mother moose and her baby!

Just recently I took a short trip to visit my sister, who lives on Whidbey Island in Washington. Along the way I stopped to visit the beautiful Columbia Gorge, which is jaw-dropping in its beauty with waterfalls and winding rivers every which way you look. I also had the great pleasure to hike through the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest to the Talapus and Olallie Lakes. Upon visiting my sister, we made a short day trip adventure to Olympic National Park, where the green forest was so vibrant it almost hurt your eyes. My sister and I spent a lot of time seeing the surrounding sights on Whidbey Island, hiking near the ocean, and playing with her hyperactive Boston Terrier!

Wahclella Falls in the Columbia Gorge

Wahclella Falls in the Columbia Gorge

Relaxing at Talapus Lake in the Mt.Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest

Relaxing at Talapus Lake in the Mt.Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest

The sister and I at Sol Duc Falls in Olympic National Park!

The sister and I at Sol Duc Falls in Olympic National Park!

I like bridges. Olympic National Park.

I like bridges. Olympic National Park.

A beautiful ocean sunset to finish off my last night on Whidbey Island, Washington

A beautiful ocean sunset to finish off my last night on Whidbey Island, Washington

I am so filled with thanks and over-joyed at the opportunities I have been given during this internship. I will never forget the experiences I have had and the people I have met. Every day I realize more and more just how beautiful the world really is.

Marissa – Shoshone Field Office – Shoshone, Idaho


Caves for Days

The past month has been wild with adventures and new experiences! We’ve learned some new protocols to include: Fire Re-entry, Utilization, Range Improvement, and even some spelunking!


With fire re-entry we use a pin-drop sampling method and determine the stability, species, and if seed heads are present in grasses present in pastures after fires and seedings. If the grasses prove stable and abundant, it is annotated and grazers will be released on the pasture in the next season.

With utilization, you walk a straight line and every five steps you annotate the key grass species of that pasture that has been grazed and ungrazed closest to your right big toe. This determines how much grazing is or is not taking place in the pasture. A bit of statistics is involved at the end, which is one of my favorite parts!

With the range improvement protocol (RIP), you go to structures on the range and determine if they are still structurally sound or need improving. So far, my group and I have only observed reservoirs but exclosures, troughs, etc. are all included in this protocol.

My favorite days of the past month have included spelunking, though! We are lucky enough to have some GeoCorps interns here at the field office who are thrilled to take us out to see a few of the many caves around Shoshone, Idaho. We have placed radon detectors in some of the caves, searched for bats, and received interesting information on the formation of these caves and geological features inside. They are very strict about wearing coveralls and sanitizing everything after it has come out of the cave in order to prevent the contamination of white nose fungus to other caves and potential bat populations.


From crawling through small tunnels to standing in chambers big enough to house entire towns, caving is absolutely spectacular! It has opened a door to my heart that has led me to want to pursue a future in studying bat populations. I would love to assist geological teams in caves! We will see what the future holds.

Tea Kettle cave has a huge skylight that shines rays of sunlight down onto a beautiful population of ferns.

Tea Kettle cave has a huge skylight that shines rays of sunlight down onto a beautiful population of ferns.

Today we join up with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to get training on how to tag Monarch butterflies. I am beyond ecstatic! I am so thankful for this internship and the opportunities it has afforded me. I am also thankful for having such wonderful supervisors in my field office that allow us to learn as much as we can and have such wonderful experiences!

Marissa Jager – Shoshone Field Office – Shoshone, Idaho