Bye-bye Bend!

My time in Bend, OR has been an amazingly fun adventure. Taking a leap of faith and moving out west all the way across the country was one of the best decisions I could have made for myself. I got to see so many different parts of the country and explore all new kinds of territory.

I think a large part of what has made my time in Bend so enjoyable is my job. I have truly enjoyed working at the Bend Seed Extractory. I have learned so much professionally and gained so many skills which pertain to the field I want to pursue. A few examples include: species identification from looking at the seed (I can’t do this with a lot of species, but I have learned a few), seed anatomy, how to process seed, and I’ve learned so much about west coast flora and fauna. Professionally, I have learned what it is like to work for the Federal Government.

My expectations for this internship were beyond exceeded. I really did not know what to expect when I moved here and started my job. To be honest, I didn’t even understand what my job was. I mean what is a “Seed Extractory”? On my first day, I went through an orientation process and learned so much new information (just on that first day!). I didn’t even know a place existed that would process seed for you. In addition, my co-workers immediately welcomed me as a part of the crew. They made OR feel like home and became more than just co-workers but my friends.

In conclusion, I have loved every part of this experience and highly recommend taking a leap of faith, moving to a foreign location and participating in the CLM program. I am excited to start my cross country road trip back home this weekend and will definitely miss my life in Bend!

Lastly, I leave you with a lovely view of the “Sisters”. My everyday view that I will surely miss. 🙂

National Parks meet Extractory

Life at the extractory has been busy, busy, BUSY. Before Christmas, we received over 600 lbs of seed from Arches National Park. This order was to be processed and shipped out before the end of January. Though this is a lot of weight in seed, the order only consisted of 6 species / lots. They are as follows: Artemisia filifolia, Chrysothamnus nauseosus, Sporobolus giganteus, Atriplex, Machaeranthera, Krascheninnikovia lanata and Artemisia tridentata. I’m unsure if these species names mean anything to you…but if they do… you’re welcome. 😉 This seed is going to be used for a restoration purposes and planted around Wolfe Creek at Arches National Park. The seed will be planted using a process called, hydroseeding. This is where the seed material is mixed with a variety of organic matter and sprayed out of a large hose in the desired planting area.

In case you don’t know what Arches National Park is / looks like, here is a pic!

Image result for arches national park

I was in charge of extracting the 211 lbs of Atriplex that we received. This was, by far, the largest order I’ve ever processed at the extractory. I even got to learn how to use a new machine, the BIG brush machine (compared the the small brush machine that I am accustomed to).

Big brush machine!

It took me almost three whole days to run the seed through this machine and then to clean everything up (as I made a HUGE mess).

In addition, I also processed the Krascheninnikovia (aka Winter Fat) and the Machaeranthera. We received a little over 50 lbs Winter Fat and 25+ of Machaeranthera. I was in charge of running this seed through the Missoula (a machine that I have talked about in previous blogs). Because Winter Fat is so fluffy it takes multiple runs through the machine and does not flow through the machine by itself (so I manually pushed it). Machaeranthera, is an Aster and has a pappus that needs to be removed, however, it can be pesky to remove and also required additional runs in the Missoula.

While it was tedious, time consuming, and seemed endless, the reward and pleasure I found in finishing both of these lots was enormous. Looking at the final product after putting in so many days of work made it all worth it. Here are some pictures of the final products all neatly packages and ready to be shipped back to Arches!

Here is the Atriplex! Four huge bags full.
The middle bag- “ARCH19-02” is the Winter Fat and “ARCH19-03” is the Machaeranthera.

Starting in February we will begin to process seed for the, Petrified Forest National Park. This seed will be used for roadside restoration purposes. This seed will go towards re-vegetation efforts in order to control non-native / weedy pants and increase genetic variation of native species.

Stay tuned for my FINAL CLM blog coming in February.

Tis the Season

Ho, Ho, Ho and hello!

So, Bend is definitely starting to feel like home. However, with the holidays approaching I will be heading back to Virginia for Christmas! I am super excited to see my family, friends, and be back in the Shenandoah Valley.

I figured I would use this blog post as a summary of my time and work at the Bend Seed Extractory. Our assistant manager recently went on detail and the person who usually works with me in extraction has taken on her position while she is away. This has left me to be the only person in extraction most days. At first, I found this to be very intimating (as I am still somewhat new and lack knowledge compared to more experienced employees). However, as time began to pass, I became more confident in my extraction skills and begun to have a new found faith in myself that I know what I am doing.

Here is a picture of the room that I work in everyday (usually alone, but some days people join me :-)) We call this room, “the big room”.

As you can see, we have many different types of machinery such as eclipses, Missoulas, brush machines and sieves of every size you can imagine. I recognize all of those names mean nothing to you, but they are vital in our process. The two machines I predominately work on are the Missoula and small brush machine.

The machine above is the Missoula. This machine was originally used to break down conifer seeds. However, we have found many new purposes for it and actually do not put conifer seeds in it at all anymore. The Missoula mainly is used to reduce inert material through its vaccuum system, break down flowers in order to extract and isolate seeds, and lastly to remove pappus off of aster species. I would say the Missoula is most often used for pappus removal. This machine is made up of three rubber flaps, a mantle and an air vac system. The flaps move clockwise (at a speed of your choosing) and rub seed against the mantle causing seed to be released from flower heads or removing pappus. Then the air vaccuum system is used to suck up material such as the pappus that was removed or useless flower parts.

The next machine that I use frequently is the, small brush machine (apologies for the horizontal picture). This machine is mainly used for grasses or seed that comes enclosed in a capsule. Inside are three brushes which move in a circle against a mantle to work the seed. The mantle size can vary. For example, if you are working a lot that has a lot of flower material, you can select a mantle that the seed fits through. This way the seed goes out the bottom of the machine and through the mantle and all of the unwanted material continues to come out of the end of the machine. Another use for this machine is to reduce awns on grass species. Awns, are hairs that are attached to numerous grass species and reduce the flow of the seed. We will put these species in the brush machine and get the awns to come out of the bottom as the brushes rub the seed against the mantle and the seed will come out at the end.

Anyway, hope you enjoyed my short summary and update on life at the extractory.

Have a happy holidays!!!

Boise Adventures!

As you all probably know, CLM interns are funded to go to a conference at the Chicago Botanical Gardens for a week. However, if you are like me and start your internship late and not in the summer months and miss this conference, take heart, there is additional funding available to go to a conference of your choice as long as it relates to your internship (phew). Therefore, hence the title, I am using this blog post to inform you about the conference I recently attended in Boise, Idaho!

I attended the Intermountain Plant Summit conference held at Boise State University this November. This was a three day long conference filled with speakers, poster presentations, and ended with a happy hour at a brewery! There were numerous interesting talks; however, the one I found most interesting was about gum weed. A plant most think of as a weed (obviously) and undesirable. However, someone (I can’t remember his name, eek), suggested gum weed be used for roadside regeneration. This is because it is for more fire tolerant than species such as cheatgrass and can outcompete species such as this. It was very interesting to hear someone take on a whole new perspective on a plant that most people had accepted as being a nuisance.

In addition, my manager at the Seed Extractory gave me and my fellow CLM intern a poster to present at the poster session. We got to present a poster containing a summary of the work we do at the Bend Seed Extractory and the steps it takes to clean seed.

Also, (because we have the best manager ever), we got to visit Lucky Peak Nursery. It’s right outside of the city and in a beautiful location. We received a full tour from staff on site and even got to see their smaller scale extractory in the basement of the Nursery.

All and all, this conference was a great learning experience and a chance to explore more out west! So, if you miss the Chicago conference take advantage of this funding!!

New Beginnings in BEND

At the beginning of this month I started my new job at the Bend Seed Extractory and casually moved across the country to Bend, Oregon.

I have never been to the west coast before and was finishing up another internship in Pennsylvania when I was offered the opportunity to move to Oregon and start working at the Seed Extractory starting early September. I immediately said, yes.

Originally, there were a lot of logistics that I didn’t think through before initially accepting this position (such as finding housing and having a car). However, as I began to plan everything started to fall into place- shipped my car (this is pricey, yes), and found a dope girl on Craigslist to live with (craigslist can be weird but once you weed through the weirdos its rather helpful).

Anyway, the west coast has exceeded my expectations. It is BEAUTIFUL. I am originally from Virginia and accustomed to the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Cascades are a entirely different breed of mountain. In addition, I am extremely grateful to have been placed in Bend. This town is amazing! It’s full of hikes, climbing, breweries, and farmers markets that are essentially festivals.

Here’s a pic of me enjoying Black Butte (one of the many hikes Bend has to offer).

Another thing that I wasn’t completely prepared for when I moved here is how intensely different the vegetation is! There are about negative deciduous trees here and everything is a shrub (still beautiful though and let’s remember Bend is essentially a desert). However, I am enjoying learning to identify all the new evergreens in the area, as in VA we have about three options to pick from when there’s a conifer around.

Here’s a picture of a Ponderosa Pine that I can’t figure out how to rotate! (these babies are everywhere and the bark is so cool!!- sorry Im kind of a tree geek)

Anyway, figure I should talk about my new job a bit too and the reason I actually moved to Bend, but instead, I’ll leave you with a picture of the first seed I processed at the extractory and leave you on the edge of your seat to hear all about it next month!