Last week, I had the great pleasure of volunteering at and attending the Regional NW/Great Basin Society for Ecological Restoration Conference in Redmond, Oregon (titled: Collaborative Restoration: From Community Efforts to Landscape Scales). This conference was just what I needed at a time when I will be finishing up this internship in less than a month and be on the hunt for my next chance to gain professional hands-on experience with anything related to ecological restoration.
My goal of attending the conference was to get to know and have real conversations with the many other practitioners, scientists and enthusiasts that were also in attendance. It was a bit of a different conference experience than I was used to because I was there as a lone ranger (in that I did not have the
comfort/security of friends from a University student club with me). Yet, as a recent grad it turned out to be really good because it allowed me to break out of my shell and develop my professional skills and learn of the many job opportunities I should apply for soon now that they have a face to my name J.
I spent most of my time at presentations related to shrubland/grassland restoration since that is where my educational and experiential background is, but also made sure to expand my horizons by going to panels and presentations on more unfamiliar topics such as urban restoration, energy mitigation, native plant development and materials, and conservation through prisons. Also, the poster session I attended (and more specifically the grad students I spoke with about their research) added to my excitement about going to back school in a year or two to pursue an advance degree in ecological restoration!
Then, Friday I attended the Shrub-Steppe Restoration-A Paired Watershed Juniper Study fieldtrip led by Tim Deboodt (staff chair of Oregon State University Extension) and Mike Fisher (Forestry Professor at Central Oregon Community College). The goal of the study was to evaluate the impacts of removing (cutting) western juniper on the hydrologic function of the two watershed sites (one of which was used as the control- no juniper removal). What I enjoyed most about the fieldtrip was learning about the geologic, ecological and management history of the study site from the people who know it best (Tim and Mike who’ve been working on this site for 20+ years and saw the importance of collecting 11 years of baseline data and who also have not determined an ending date to the study as they will be passing it off this year to another scientist to lead the research). I also really enjoyed our two mile hike between the two watersheds because I was able to observe first-hand the visual difference between the control site and the site where juniper had been removed.
Overall, I really felt lucky to be a part of that conference because it allowed me to learn from a diverse group of practitioners and scientists about the many challenges they have faced as well as successes they have had in conserving the flora, fauna and land of all types of ecosystems through ecological restoration with the help of invested and passionate local communities, academic and private partnerships by way of progressive and productive collaboration.
Burns, OR BLM