Jack Frost Does Not Like Oregon

Hello everyone! I hope everyone is doing well and having a good time in the new year! January has been quite the busy month here in the Umpqua, but that has really made time fly by! The first few weeks were relatively quiet. We worked on seed cleaning and started the new process of extracting and packaging Douglas Firs and Ponderosa Pines for an assisted migration project, which addresses their geographic distribution in regards to climate change. It is a monotonous task; however, it does make the time pass because there is always something to be done. At Dorena, there is always something to be done, which I kinda love. I am never bored here.

Buuuuuuut, mid-January a gnarly ice storm hit my area and caused major damage to the community, native deciduous trees, and the power-grid. This storm created a temporary ice rink on every exposed surface and allowed me to slide to the grocery store rather than walking there. Do not get me wrong, it was beautiful, but it was also incredibly dangerous. Although I was lucky and only was without power and water for 6 days, others in the community did not receive their power for almost two weeks. After this experience, I think I take the doomsday preppers a little bit more seriously. This storm left my city in shambles from houses and cars being squashed by trees to fallen telephone lines across roads and sidewalks. Throughout the past few weeks, the community is still recovering and has dramatically increased their supply of firewood.

Post ice storm, Dorena regained power and normal activities returned. We continued on extracting and packaging the Douglases and Pines, but we had the awesome experience of having multiple jobs corps groups and volunteers come in to help the project. It was incredible. The extra hands turned the expected end date from two months to two weeks. Without their help, we would have been extracting and packaging for weeks.

Overall, this month has flown by. I am sure I am missing a few events here and there but that is kinda the gist. There was definitely some good moments, like sowing oaks with everyone in the greenhouses after the storm, which was so fun to drink our coffees and chat, but there were also some learning moments. Life is not life without both sides. This month definitely was a wild ride, but I am excited to see where February takes me. Also unfortunately, last week I did break my laptop; thus, I will have to share all my photos for next month 🙁

Hope y’all have a good February!

Christmas Season at the Umpqua

December 2023

Hello dudes, hope everyone is doing well. This internship is flying by and refuses to slow down. This month has been a combination of cleaning seeds and a few other projects like propagation and transplanting. I have worked on Ratibida tagetes, Prunus virginiana, and Achillea millefolium this month, and man are these guys dusty. The propagation of POC and transplanting of Foxtail and Limber pines were exciting and different, which I love. As it grows colder here in Oregon, I have resorted to wearing as many layers as possible, the top number has been 4 jackets (quite cozy honestly but maybe I should buy a wearable sleeping bag at this point).

In my professional opinion, “podcast-studies” should be normalized, like instead of books it’s a podcast. Anyways, my podcast theme this month was murder mysteries with a sprinkle of conspiracy theories. Some favorite topics include the Black Sisters and the theory that Sun Tzu (the supposed author of The Art of War) never existed and is actually a collection of authors. Anywho, there is quite a variety of podcasts to listen to and I cannot wait to explore a few more.

This month has been packed full of festive cheer and incredible sights. I am trying to hike as much as possible, but it seems there are too many things to do in this short amount of time. I have seen some incredibly beautiful waterfalls this month, and I am in love with the forests of the PNW. I am really becoming a weekend warrior at this point, but my hiking boots were made for walking and that’s just what they’ll do. Our office Christmas party was a hit! The food was immaculate. The White Elephant gift exchange was hysterical. Wreath making was gorgeous. Dutch Blitz was riveting. The people were incredible. I think it was the best work Christmas party I have ever been to. In addition to having a blast at Dorena during the Christmas season, I also got to go home and see my family and pups for the holidays. There was telework involved, but researching plants barely counts as working in my opinion. I am quite a fan of learning about plants so it was kind of a holiday treat.

I also have a confession. I told myself I would not fall for it, but I in fact do think Dutch Bros is better than Starbucks. I have truly embraced the culture of the West. It is a hard realization to come to, but I am at peace with it. I am also now addicted to their dirty chai (it is a problem physically and financially). Thank you for understanding and acceptance everyone.

This month did not have any wild or crazy stories just the constant anticipation for the holidays, but the quiet excitement and giddiness around the office was unmatched. As the festive season winds down, the daunting time between January and April, which have minimal holidays, has begun. We will make it through this, but it is going to require a substantial amount of coffee, tea, and a few sweet little treats here and there. Good luck everyone and I will update y’all next month or should I say next year?!

(that joke hurt me too)

bye! 🙂

Start of Something Incredible

Hello everyone! It is so cool to see all the incredible projects and places people are working in right now. My name is Brenn Kurtz, and I work with the Forest Service at Dorena Genetic Center in Oregon. So far, it has been an incredible experience! My position revolves around extracting and cleaning native seeds from different locations along the West Coast, which will be sent back and planted. The focus here is restoration work, and I love it. I feel like I am actually doing something. I have had numerous opportunities to learn other aspects of the nursery and other projects at Dorena. For example, the Port Orford Cedar (POC) conservation project is working to increase the species’ natural resistance to Phytophthora; thus, I have had the opportunity to help with cone collection and serial propagation efforts for this project. Additionally, I have had the opportunity to treat and sow germinating oaks for future nursery stock and dispersal. This position has allowed me to work with species I have not heard of and familiarize myself with the incredible species on the West Coast.

I am a big fan of fieldwork, and this job has the perfect balance of fieldwork and indoor work. I get to help maintain a nursery and research the plants. It is so sick. While cleaning seeds, it is a great time to listen to podcasts and music. I love a good murder mystery podcast or conspiracy theories podcast on a seed-filled rainy day. The other day, I was cleaning Ratibida tagetes and listening about how Antarctica may simply be the guarded entrance to the center of the earth (very scientific arguments obviously). There is never a lack of tasks to do, which I kinda enjoy. I am never bored here and there are always great people to talk to.

There have been so many firsts in this position. First time cleaning seed. First time seeing Oregon. The first time accidentally creating a geyser by tripping over the irrigation system. There have been so many firsts, and this position is truly a plant nerd’s dream (or definitely my dream at least). I get the opportunity to explore Oregon as part of my job. How sick is that! I have met so many incredible people, and I am stoked to see how the rest of this season goes.

Oh my goodness! I almost forgot, but I would also like to say we have an office cat. His name is Teo, and he loves to try and steal mashed potatoes. 🙂

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful day!