My past five months working at the Redding BLM office has taught me a lot. The program gave me a goal to achieve within a certain amount of time but also gave me freedom in ways to achieve that goal. I believe I have grown professionally and personally from this experience.

The SOS program had many advantages. It gave me a chance to reach out and make connections to other agencies and people. It also gave me a chance to be in charge of my own project. Being able to accomplish something professionally gave me confidence in myself and my work skills. The program gave a lot of guidance to help me when I had confusion about certain tasks. The office I was in could not give me guidance at points to certain tasks, I was glad to receive guidance on the CBG side of the program. Other perks of the program were being able to explore places and different habitat types. Spending the summer outside gave me opportunities to see what the land communities were like and being able to understand the ecosystems better.

Some qualities that I did not like about the program were it lacked a purpose for the collections and the BLM was lacking knowledge in the program. I felt this because I do not see a purpose for the collections if they are not going to restoration projects. I believe that the program would be more helpful if it was only used if the BLM office had some sort of restoration project going on and need seed to grow. The BLM office was lacking knowledge in the program but they were still very helpful and eager to help me out in any way they could and for that I am grateful.

Over all the experience was nice and gave me an opportunity to grow professionally and personally. I would recommend this job to other people interested in similar job qualities.


–Amanda Weiss, BLM Redding Field Office

Exploring New Fields

This past month in the BLM office has been a lot of office work. Since collections have come to an end, I have getting the last bit of information wrapped up. With Seeds of Success out of the way, I have free time to help co-workers in extra work they might not have all that much time for. Many of my hours have been spent organizing the herbarium. The goal is to get our herbarium up on a symbiota so it can be found by fellow researchers who might be wanting to herbarium research in our area. This is a long and tedious process, since each herbarium specimen needs to be entering manually into the symbiota, but it sure does give me something to do.

Other extras I have had the chance to do is help out with the greenhouse. The greenhouse has been neglected for about 2 years now and getting it up and running again takes a lot of work. Special measures have to be done to ensure everything is sanitized and ready to use. We also get to do a education outreach with the greenhouse for 6th graders from the nearby elementary school every other week. This is a good experience because it gives me skills in working with children and education.

Mussel surveys have been another task that filled my spare time. This was a nice change from other tasks I have been doing. The surveys would of been a great thing to do when Redding temperatures were out of control, but it was still cool to wade in the cool water and count native fresh water mussels that were fastened to the stream floor.

With one more week to go in my internship my emotions are feeling scrambled. I am excited to take my new found skills and apply them to other jobs in the future, but am also scared to leave the secure feeling I have here. I have made friends and I like my co-workers; I will be sad to leave them. Life will go on though and I am eager to see what comes next.


-Amanda, Redding BLM Field Office

Adventures and more!

August has provided some great opportunities for me both in learning field trips and adventurous times. Starting off the month, a seed collection for Western needle grass (Stipa occidentalis) took place just north of Mt. Shasta in Siskiyou county. Unlike the normal chaparral and pine forest I am used to, northern Mt. Shasta provides a unique sage brush habitat. The plants that dominate this area are sagebrush and juniper, but others strive, like common woolly sunflower, yarrow, and many native bunch grasses. We also strolled upon a snowy thistle patch which painted the landscape with bright fuchsia and a light pastel green.

View of Mt. Shasta from the north side of the mountain.


Standing next to this thistle to capture it’s beauty and height.

My first thought upon seeing this thistle was “great another collection”! However, when the time came to collect it I had found most of the plants were being predated on by some species of lepidopteran. The caterpillar did not seem out of place. It’s color matched the flower head completely and it resided nestled away in the flower munching on the plethora of seeds that were in their process of maturing. After collecting from about 50 plants, I decided to call it quits since many of the seeds were getting eaten and I did not feel like decimating this insects population.

Mystery caterpillar eating all of the seeds I was planning on collecting.

Multiple days were spent collecting seed for the western needle grass. On the first day of collection, I found out that most of the seeds had not filled. In disappointment, I still decided to push on and collect knowing that I would need to collect from a lot more plants than if most the seeds had been filled out. Out in the grueling heat, me and my co-worker decided to take our lunch break in the caves that were on the property of our seed collection. These caves had been created from old lava tubes; they were massive and you can see as the lava cooled it created really neat rock formations. As I approached the caves, I could hear bats yelling from above and got to see a packrat sitting on one of the crevices not too far from the cave opening. It was a great sight to see and a nice break from the harsh sun.

Our lunch break cave spot

Aside from collections, I got to go on a couple pollinator outings. We learned about native bees and went out in the field and caught bees with mist nets. Upon capturing them, we identified them the best we could without a dissecting scope and released them or killed them for the learning collection. This was a great time because it was a nice change of scenery, as I got to see high elevation mountain meadows and many neat plants that I was not used to seeing.

Me standing with a bee gun, which is a device that has a slight suction and used by kids, but is great because it is efficient in capturing insects.

As August is coming to an end, I am interested in what my future will hold. With my new knowledge in plants, I definitely want to take my career working with them and widening my knowledge in restoration work. One more month is all I have left with the Redding BLM and I hope to make the best of it.


— Amanda, SOS Intern at the Redding BLM field office

Wrapping up in July

As July is coming to an end, many of my collection goals I had made at the beginning of my internship are wrapping up. I find myself with a higher confidence in collecting seed. I have realized that 10,000 seed is actually not that much. Many of my plants (and many plants in general) produce so many seeds that I only need to collect from a handful to reach 10,000. This plant below has about 4 seed per little capsule and hundreds of capsules per plant!

I am still learning plant identification skills everyday! I love knowing what plants I am seeing and which ones are native or not. Plant identification is something I will never get tired of.

I got to meet with a botanist in the Forest Service that does active restoration in Siskiyou county. Having a day just to hear what she does and how she does it was awesome! It really made me think about my career path and that I may want to guide my career into restoration. My mentor is not doing restoration and may not start any projects till a few years from now, so unfortunately gaining experience in that field is unlikely. However, it does motivate me to look into jobs in the restoration business and hopefully get a job in that field after SOS.

The temperatures have been rising since May and now they seem to have reached a plateau. They oscillate around 100 and 107, usually the latter at the end of the week. Thank goodness most of my seeds have been collected and I can enjoy the AC more often. Although, I find myself day dreaming about the outside as I get chills every now and again from the AC being turned up too high.

The BLM office hosted and participated in a float trip down the Trinity river. We all set afloat on rafts to head downstream. The mission of the trip was to monitor a long-term restoration project. The goal of the project was to create more inlets from the main river to create more fish and wildlife habitat. This was a really fun float and gave a different view of the river. The public was also invited on this trip and they got to see the improvements on the river. Overall this was a great learning experience!

-Redding, CA BLM office

Troubleshooting upcoming issues…

Rolling into my 9th week, I am getting more comfortable with my surroundings and the lay of the land. Thanks to the SOS workshop I can more confidently scope out for possible seed collections and have a better grasp on what I need to do.

As time progresses us more into the summer the temperatures are increasing. Last week and all week long temperatures peaked at 112 degrees Fahrenheit. To deal with those temperatures, we had to be in the field early, before the heat took over. Thank goodness this week had highs of only 95 degrees, although I see another heat wave in the near future. With increasing temperatures, things are drying out quickly. Much of the Redding’s BLM land is covered in invasive grasses. They are now dried to a crisp and create fields of golden yellow-brown.

Sacramento River Bend Recreational Area

Seeds are starting to ripen with aid from this heat! Another collection has been made of a California fescue. This is particularly exciting because A) it is a big population of this fescue and has not been taken over by non-native grasses and B) it would come in handy for any future restoration projects. The collection was done under the canopy of grey pine so it was nice and shady when collecting and I did not have to stand out in the sun. This most definitely will not be true for other collections but at least there are some that can be done out of the sun.

California fescue collection sight

I have had one failed collection so far. I started a collection of Arnica discoidea before the training week. When I came back more well informed, I realized that this population was not big enough for a 10,000+ seed collection. Most of the seeds had been predated on or aborted and what I thought what a 50-60 seed flower head was more likely a 20-30 seed head. Oh well, it was a good experience learning the plant and now I know for future collections!

Some other issues have arisen in this past month as most of my collection plants start to ripen. I still feel as if I am not confident on when some seeds are ready to collect. Ceanothus integerrimus has explosive capsules, so I need to make sure to get there before the seed explode out of the capsule, but when would it be too early? Also, predation is a thing! My whole Kotolo milkweed population got wiped out by grasshoppers. All the flower heads had been eaten and only the vegetation remains. It will be hard to get seed from that one without any flowers! Looks like i’ll have to do some more scouting for more milkweed or just possibly another plant that has a large enough population!

This is the beautiful kotolo milkweed that we would of gotten seed from if not predation!

So being not a very picture oriented person, I have not taken too many photos of the field from last time I posted. But, I do have a nice photo of a Pyrola aphylla. This is seeming to pop of everywhere now and is always fun to see as it adds color to a brown landscape.

Pyrola aphylla



  • Amanda at the Redding Field Office- BLM

A Rocky Start to a Beautiful Beginning

Starting as the only Seeds of Success intern at the BLM office was a bit of a rocky start. This particular program has not been run in at least 2 years and the staff that were familiar with it are long gone. However, this does leave a fresh start for me! Scrounging through old archives, I was able to find previous plants collected for seeds and where they might be. Calflora has become my best friend, as it is a necessary source on plant identification and conveniently has locations on where particular plants of interest may be. After making a tentative list of what plants I might collect, I was out in the field.

California has some beautiful landscapes. The photo below was taken near the Oregon border. Our mission that day was to find a rare lily, Fritillaria gentneri. We found two small different populations of this lily growing next to its look a likes, Fritillaria recurva and Fritillaria affinis

Blue oak woodland. Just south of the Oregon border.

Fritillaria affinis

After being at this job for about two weeks, I am able to get a better grasp on what is feasible and what I need to do. Right now I go out in the field on various pieces of land owned by Redding BLM to survey what is in mass. Collecting 10,000+ seeds per species is not an easy feat, so I need to find large populations of plants that will produce a lot of seed. So far so good, I have found about three species of plants that have a sufficient amount of plants to give me enough seed. These plants will be great for restoration and are pollinator friendly!

Not a collection plant, but one of California’s native succulent type plants! It grows on a rock face; this seeming difficult to achieve. However, the Lewisia thrive in this environment and I am thankful because this species makes for a beautiful picture.

Lewisia cotyledon


Redding Field Office – Bureau of Land Management