My CLM internship is coming to an end and I am very grateful for having had this opportunity. I have gained more field experience and have had a glimpse into the world of government work. I have a better understanding of GIS through ESRI’s online training. I have developed botany skills that I previously did not possess thanks to the mentorship of Carol Dawson and Peter Gordon and to our daily outdoor adventures. I now possess a knowledge of and an appreciation for Colorado’s native flora. I had an excellent summer hiking through the foothills, mountains, and valleys of Colorado with my fellow interns. I appreciated the interest in our work that recreational hikers expressed and it was always fun to hear peoples’ reactions when I told them that I basically go on hikes looking for wildflowers for work.
To those considering applying for the CLM internship I think it is a great way to spend a summer and to gain field experience in the natural sciences. For me, pictures can be more persuasive than words, so I made this collage to speak louder about this internship.

Lakeview, Oregon — a pleasant community nowhere near a Lake

Cars enter the arena at the Lake County Destruction Derby

This is my second to last blog post. At this point — close to the end of my time in Lakeview, OR — I have significant material to reflect on. I feel comfortable in Lakeview now even though, at two thousand people, it is the smallest town I that have ever lived in. To make it clear, Lakeview lacks a lake (some might argue that it also lacks a view). Drought and the human need for water have shrunk the shores of nearby Goose Lake far out of Lakeview’s view. Perched amid mountains in the high desert, Lakeview’s barren, sagebrush speckled landscape is also unlike any other place I’ve ever lived or even seen. I find it very beautiful and yet also a poignant reminder of the environmental expense we pay to satisfy our lustful reliance on water. After working here for almost five months, I now associate Lakeview with the expansive upside-down blue bowl of the sky. Without the natural and man-made structures that block it in other parts of the country, one can experience the sky here in a uniquely complete way. I find this view quite freeing and fulfilling for the soul.

After five months in Lakeview, I also feel as though I’m beginning to understand its culture — especially after attending the Lake County Fair. Lakeview hosts this event — possibly the seminal event of the town’s identity — annually. On Labor Day weekend, ranchers and revelers of all ages inundate Lakeview from the surrounding communities to show their animals, and enjoy the entertainment provided by the rodeo, fair rides, and the unusually vibrant nightlife that the fair creates. This event also serves as a family, and high school reunion, reuniting love ones from all over as well as fueling a drastic (if fleeting) upturn in the town’s economy. In September, I took full advantage of what might prove to be my singular opportunity to attend the Lake County Fair. I smelled burning rubber and heard squealing tires as I watched the local destruction derby – the fair’s most popular event. (On derby day fair-goers begin lining up more than two hours early to secure a good seat). I also went to my first rodeo – experiencing a truly western culture that is foreign to most Iowans. At the rodeo I learned to identify saddle bronc, team roping, and bull dogging amongst other events. I also learned some of the rules and traditions regulating rodeos. In one exciting moment, a cowboy competing in the roping competition knocked the open the gate constraining a bronco used in the saddle bronco riding competition. Freed of his stall, the aggravated stallion careened into the competition ring, charging everything in sight and sending anyone not on horseback fleeing from the arena. The situation took numerous mounted cowboys and about ten minutes to resolve – with the cowboys finally wrangling the wild horse and returning him to his stall.

At cowboy is thrown from a bucking bronco at the Lake County Fair Rodeo

While the last month has seen some unique cultural events, seed collection has slowed. The end of September through October falls at an awkward point in the seed ripening schedule – after most of the grasses and forbs have lost there seeds but before the sage seed has ripened. On a positive note, this gap period has given us an opportunity to explore new areas in search of different plants with ripe seeds. Lately, we have filled our days by collecting Mountain Mahogany. We stumbled upon this hidden population on one such exploration expedition. Trees present the challenge of height. Despite its somewhat shrubby form, Mountain Mahogany seeds often hang from branches way above our reach. Therefore, over the past few weeks, in addition to hiking we’ve begun climbing to reach seed populations. We often find ourselves perched atop a protruding rock or amongst sprawling Mountain Mahogany branches. I appreciate this more difficult means of reaching seeds though – it keeps things exciting.

Amy Hadow

Lakeview, OR

Bureau of Land Management

Collecting seeds in the forest..

Beautiful view

During the last couple of weeks of my internship we have collected seeds in the forest. We have collected wax currant, sticky currant (that has a blue berry!), Potentilla glandulosa and curl-leaf mountain mahogany. I have enjoyed collecting seeds from these plants especially mountain mahogany. To the right is a picture of the area where we have been collecting seeds.

While we were collecting seed from Potentilla glandulosa plants we climbed a ridge and stumbled upon a population of mountain mahaoney trees. It just so happened that we had recently looked up pictures of this tree and its seed, so we were able to easily identify it. We scouted the area and determined that there were enough trees and seeds for us to collect from the population. Both the tree and the seed are very interesting to me..

Amy collected seeds..

Mountain Mahogany Tree

We have enjoyed collecting seeds from these trees! As you can see Amy is happily sitting in one of the trees to collect more seed..  she is a very diligent seed collector! I love these mountain mahogany trees. I think they look like something out of the loin king, especially because they grow on ridges and rock outcrops so a view of them from a distance really looks like a picture out of the loin king!

Thanks all!

Molly Baughman

BLM, Lakeview, OR

Seeds of Success in Colorado


An encounter with a bull snake has left me thinking, “This job is awesome!” After jumping back and taking a few long, quick, nervous strides away from what first appeared to be a rattlesnake I found myself smiling widely and feeling very lucky to have the outdoors as my work environment. This CLM internship has afforded me the opportunity to start to get a feel for working for the government at the BLM state office in Colorado while at the same time getting me outside in the foothills almost every day. As an ARRA SOS intern my primary responsibility is seed collection. Little BLM land is located near the Denver area so we have been exploring the Open Space Parks of Jefferson County. Here along the trails in the foothills the wildflowers are blooming and the colors are beautiful. Few populations are ready for collection so we are mainly scouting the parks, taking notes, and making reports. Hiking and searching for wildflowers, what a way to spend the work day!

Leaving Big Sky

Over the past five months I’ve been with the BLM as a wildlife biologist in Glasgow, Montana. As a result of the skills I’ve gained through this internship, I will be leaving early to fill a wildlife biologist position out east. I am surely going to miss working in the prairies and especially the people I’ve had the opportunity to work with and meet since arriving here.

I didn’t know what to expect when I arrived here, but over the past months I’ve really gotten to know this ecosystem and further understand the perils many of the wildlife species here are facing in light of extensive energy development and exploration. The work that the BLM does here is invaluable and further gave me a new perspective in the field of land management.

While here I have worked with a broad array of taxa such as: greater sage-grouse; mountain plovers; black-tailed prairie dogs; burrowing owls; insects (horray) and black-footed ferrets. Aside from the animals I’ve worked directly with, I have had the opportunity to spot many rare and endangered birds here in the prairies.

Being here has allowed me to broaden my background and build upon my previous skills. This is a program that fits perfectly between academia and a full-time career. I have been integrated into Federal work and treated as a professional. Montana is a state I plan on returning to in the future, it has a bit of everything! I will surely miss it.

I cannot speak highly enough of the people I’ve been working with and the CLM internship program! As a direct result of this internship I have been given a position in my desired field.

Best of luck to everyone!

Last few weeks on the Colorado Plateau

Populus tremuloides

Stand of Quaking Aspens in the Jemez Mountains

Gyp Hills Skyline (near White Sands)

Gyp Hills Skyline (near White Sands)

I am nearing the end of the internship now and have to say that I am very impressed with all I have learned about botany and about my own skills. I am now capable of making collections by myself in the field and identifying the plants successfully. Considering that I was not a botanist upon graduation, this is great. Even driving around in my home city, I recognize many species that I can recall the genus and species of with no problem. In addition, as I look back, I realize that a large part of the internship has involved extensive coordination of efforts and administrative tasks, and a lot of field work planning, and I have proven very capable of doing these things on my own in such a way where objectives get met and even exceeded.

I am also very impressed with the CLM internship program, as it has afforded me a fantastic opportunity for memorable field experiences in addition to the opportunity to put my skills to use and see what I can do for restoration. My career goals have come out the other side more defined, as I now know that I enjoy being in the field most and I am aware that the most enjoyable aspect of environmental science, for me, is environmental stewardship and even research therein.


Small Scorpion

There were many interesting adventures in the field, and I’ve seen and collected on so many different landscapes, from canyons, to deserts, to Pinon-Juniper woodlands, and even Ponderosa Pine forests. One of the more interesting experiences involved collecting prickly pear fruit. I suggest thick gloves for that one.

Huge geode near old mine

Huge geode near old mine

I’ve seen tarantulas, scorpions, owls, a rattlesnake, bats, and a wide assortment of insects and spiders. There is an abundance of fascinating yellow and black garden spiders in the grasslands and shrublands. We’ve collected wild raspberries, native grasses, a variety of different purple and yellow composites, thistles, lemonaide bush, globemallow, Apache plume, red bearberries, etc.

One of the coolest things about the internship is the sights you see while driving. The geology here in New Mexico is incredibly thought-provoking. I’ve passed by (and worked around, in some cases) volcanic fields, badlands, eolian sculptures, and travertine deposits. Some examples include the Mogollon-Datil volcanic field, the Angel Peak badlands, and Soda Dam near Jemez Springs. While it’s hard to believe New Mexico was once underwater, the evidence is everywhere, including in fossilized shells in several of the rocks I’ve found.

Since my last post, we have managed to meet our collection quota and then some.  Conditions were just right for seed production and yield was great during the months of August and September, and continues to be great in October. For the past two and a half weeks I have been on my own in the internship and have been spending some time working with the other teams to see what SOS collection is like in other parts of New Mexico. I’ve found that in northern New Mexico, assemblages are very similar in some areas and hugely different in others, and that these differences seem most correlated with elevation. In those two and a half weeks, I have also managed five collections for the Los Lunas team.

Argemone pleiacantha ssp. ambigua

Argemone pleiacantha ssp. ambigua with a visitor

The rains have tapered off a bit here and so has the heat (although Walnut Canyon seems to always be boiling hot during the day).  Tomorrow I will be returning to a patch of BLM land near the small but quaint Pie Town, New Mexico, to continue with some collections that I began the week before last. Maybe I will stop and get some pie during my lunch break.

La Ventana Natural Arch and Dry Waterfall

La Ventana Natural Arch and Dry Waterfall

Tessia Robbins
Los Lunas PMC, NM

Last Days in the Last Frontier

Today, we drove to work in chilly, 29 degree weather. Snow covers the mountain tops surrounding Anchorage. Most of the ducks have left the partially frozen ponds. Yes, it is time for me to migrate as well.

When my mentor first offered me the SOS position with the BLM in Alaska, I agonized over the decision for a full week and a half. I also had an offer to teach English in Indonesia, and I couldn’t decide which position to accept. But now I know I made the right choice. The past four months have really been a whirlwind of activity and excitement. I can’t think of another job that I could have gotten right out of undergrad that would have allowed me to travel so frequently, learn so much, and come into contact with so many fantastic people– all while utilizing my education and setting me on the track to a great career.

Perhaps the best thing about this internship was the sense of independence that I had throughout much of it. Here I was, traveling to Alaska. No study abroad program was waiting at the airport to pick me up. No friends were waiting in the city to take me out. I was alone in the Last Frontier.

On the first day of work, we figured out what needed to be done. On the second day of work, we started doing it. We acquired permits, planned trips, drove (and flew!) to far corners of the state, analyzed ecosystems, and collected lots and lots of seeds. For the vast majority of the time, I felt like I was in charge of something new and exciting. I felt empowered to use my knowledge to make scientific decisions. I felt like I was making a difference.

Although I had never been to Alaska before, I really grew to love the state. Anchorage is not the million-person metropolis that I am used to, but its natural beauty is unsurpassed. Minutes from my house lies one of the largest state parks in the country, where backpacking, mountain-biking, hiking, and bears abound. Sea kayaking, water skiing, and pack-rafting lie just a bit further away. Coupled with an extremely active populace that utilizes every second of sunshine to its fullest, I really wanted to stay. But alas, the job market had other plans for me.

A big thanks to Marian and Krissa, without whom this internship would not have been possible. Their tireless work and patience was much appreciated. I also want to thank my mentors, Mike Duffy and Paul Krabacher, who were excellent teachers and friendly bosses. Finally, to Jordan, Chrissy, and Vania, my fellow interns, we actually survived living, working, commuting, traveling, and playing together for four whole months. I don’t think I could have done it with anyone else! You guys are my newest lifelong friends. I look forward to our reunions.

Dan Brickley

BLM State Office

Anchorage, AK

Alaska is Groovy : )

My stay in Alaska is coming to an end. After 4 long months and numerous adventures, I am sad to leave. Between seeing bears, moose, musk oxen, reindeer, wolves, coyote’s, ground squirrels, and collecting seeds, my time in Alaska will always be remembered.
This internship has been such a great post college experience. I have learned so many different plant species and so much about field work. I’ll be leaving with a love for Alaska, it’s plants and it’s overall greatness.
The CLM internship program is such a great idea. I hope it lasts a long time and gives many people wonderful experiences like it has given me.

Arrivederci Colorado

My internship at the Colorado State Office has come to an end. We spent the summer collecting numerous species and we reached our target numbers. This job was physically demanding since we worked in the field every day, but I enjoyed working with the other interns and I gained knowledge about the biology and phenology of the species we worked on. I got to know more about plants like cacti – they have such beautiful flowers and fruits. I really learned a lot about the species we found by keeping up with their development in the field throughout spring and summer, from germination, to flowering and then fruiting.

During these five months I also had the opportunity to see various ecosystems around Colorado like Ponderosa pine forests, the prairies of the Plains, spectacular canyons and scenic mesas. Some of the most beautiful places here in the West lay on BLM and other public lands and having the opportunity to work there and see these places was a great experience.  We got to take a trip to Roan Plateau, a high area in western Colorado where we collected a species of paintbrush. When we got to the top the view was striking. It was interesting to see oil shale on the steep mountain cliffs.

I have enjoyed my time at the BLM and in Colorado and will certainly use the knowledge I have gained in my future career.

Lorenzo Ferrari

BLM Colorado State Office

Good Bye, Alaska

Alaska is such a huge, diverse state that even in 4 months I have only seen a small part of it.  However, I am grateful because I have seen more of the state in these 4 months than almost all tourists and many locals.  It seems that fieldwork is the perfect way to tour Alaska.

A couple experiences that stood out:

1. The Denali highway is 135 miles of dirt road through BLM land in the heart of Alaska.  Though the summer had been rainy, we got a gorgeous day when we were collecting on the Denali Highway.  It was just so amazing to pull off anywhere along the road, hike a short distance and be surrounded by collection opportunities.  It was sunny and warm, and the shrub tundra stretched out into the distance until the foothills and the sharp summits of the Alaska Range, which we could see in all of their glory.  There were also plenty of ripe blueberries on which to snack.  I think we collected for at least 8 hours that day, and had we not had a two hour drive home to dinner, I think we would have stayed until midnight.

2. We got the opportunity to go to the Seward Peninsula, location of historic Nome and home to numerous reindeer and muskoxen.  The flight to Nome is more expensive than a flight to Seattle, so we would not have been able to go there if not for SOS.  Along the three dirt roads that leave Nome, we made numerous collections over the course of 6 days.  Though the days were long and often quite chilly, I enjoyed every minute of it.  I could not stop thinking “I’m in Nome!”  As an unexpected bonus, fellow CLM intern Ben Copp welcomed us to Nome with a salmon cookout on the beach.  It was a trip that I will never forget.

I will definitely have fond memories of my internship in Alaska, and even if these memories grow dim I have thousands of photos to remind me.  Here are just a few: