It’s finally time to end my internship with the BLM at Fort Ord National Monument. I had a huge number and variety of experiences here, and I’ll definitely miss all the people, places, plants, wildlife, and ecosystems that I’ve gotten to know.
I’ve learned a lot during my time at Fort Ord, way more than I would be able to describe in this post. Some of the main things, though – I gained a lot of experience with plant, wildlife, and ecosystem identification, as well as plant anatomy and taxonomy. I’d be able to tell anyone how to ID a Fort Ord grass based on its ligule, or the subtle differences between Ericameria ericoides and Ericameria fasciculata seeds (not that anyone would ever ask haha). I’ve also seen first hand what conservation work is like, as well as work in a federal agency, which has been invaluable in helping decide the next steps for my career.
And, one last lesson Fort Ord taught me before I left was how to respect and deal with poison oak. I’d touched poison oak before and gotten small rashes here and there, but a week ago I carelessly worked through a stand of it while repairing goat grazing plot fences, and sure enough now I have big angry rashes across my arms, shins, and stomach (even after washing with Tecnu!). I now realize just how nasty and uncomfortable poison oak can be, but I also feel that I deserved it to an extent – I didn’t really respect it enough until that experience set me straight.
Overall though, I am really glad to have had this amazing opportunity. I feel very grateful for all I’ve had a chance to learn and do, and to all the wonderful people I got to work with, especially my mentor, Bruce, who guided and supported me in more ways than I’d possibly be able to articulate.