I can’t put into words how amazing it is to have the privilege to work outside nearly everyday. One of my favorite things to do lately is take a picture of the gorgeous scenery when I’m out working and post a photo on my facebook or twitter when I get home with the caption “this was my office today.” Fieldwork is such a rewarding experience. Yes, it gets hot and tiring sometimes, but the sights, sounds, and sheer adventure of it all makes it so fulfilling.
Lately, I’ve gotten to contribute to several projects. My mentor sent all of the wildlife technicians out with the range crew and we have been learning how to read trends and assess sites for possible prairie dog relocation. Working with the range crew has allowed me to learn a lot more of the Utah plants. A brief overview of what reading trends consists of: We go out to either a historic site (an area where they’ve been collecting data for years) or a new site (where we set up a new plot) and take stock of what plants there are using a combination of methods (point intercept, line intercept, and nested frequency). It has been great getting to know our range crew, practicing new sampling methods, and learning new plants.
We’ve also gotten to pair up with the DNR (Department of Natural Resources) in a town near St. George. They have been seining the Virgin River in order to remove the invasive red shiner. Now that was physically exerting! It was wonderful getting to work in a riparian area again. There’s not an abundance of water out here in Utah, which is very different from what I’m used to. So getting to be in a river all day was quite a treat (even if I was sore for several days after). Unfortunately, since we were in the water all day (sometimes up to my neck), I wasn’t able to get any photos.
Last, but not least, we got to pair up with another DNR team and assist with a bat survey last night. I’ve always wanted to participate in bat monitoring, but I’ve never had the opportunity. When my mentor said he might be able to work something out, I was thrilled. After a couple months of contacting various crews that did bat work, we got the go ahead to help the Cedar City DNR, and my dream finally came to fruition. By some dumb luck, I ended up doing data recording. That meant that I got to see every bat we caught and help assess their age, sex, health, and a few other measurements. I couldn’t have asked for a better night!
This month has exposed me to so many new skills and experiences. It’s been great working with both intra- and inter-departmental crews to get involved in different types of plant and animal research and monitoring.
In a non-work related note, I’ve had the opportunity to meet up with some of the other CLM interns in Utah and we have had some pretty great adventures. I’m thankful we all got to meet in Chicago at the workshop. I didn’t realized how many friendships would stem from that trip!