I must admit I am way behind on posting to the CLM Blog. I started my second internship the beginning of December and every week since has been a whirlwind!

But I should start at the beginning…

In October, while finishing up my first CLM internship with the Rae Selling Berry Seed Bank, I was asked to present my SOS seed collecting adventures on Steens Mountain at the OR/WA BLM botanists meeting. I hadn’t thought much about what I was going to do once my internship ended, but assumed it would require a million job applications via USAJobs and scouring the internet for the best plant conservation grad school programs. But for now, these daunting tasks have been put on hold.

Tara Donovan transforms seemingly two dimensional index cards into towering three dimensional sculpture. Nicole admiring the untitled instillation at the Renwick Gallery

Tara Donovan transforms seemingly two dimensional index cards into towering three dimensional sculpture, Renwick Gallery.

It was at the botanists meeting in Oregon that I met the Plant Conservation Lead for the Bureau of Land Management, Peggy Olwell, and decided that I would move to Washington DC for a second CLM internship. So, that is where I am now.

Working at the Washington Office in DC has been quite the change of work environment − from the remote solitude of Harney County to the hustle and bustle of the capital city. Although my daily tasks at times feel far removed from the field botany I so enjoyed, the work happening in DC is what keeps all those botany positions funded and the native plant materials programs running.

Currently, most of the energy within the Plant Conservation Program is focused on implementation of the National Seed Strategy for Rehabilitation and Restoration 2015 – 2020. Involvement in this effort has me communicating with representatives from 12 Federal Agencies such as USFWS, NPS, USFS, and USGS as well as with the Smithsonian Institute and National Botanic Garden. Implementation!The Seed Strategy has been a cooperative effort since its conception and it is inspiring to see collaboration between agencies at this level. With lands protected/managed by so many different agencies and organizations across the country, collaboration is essential in restoring the health and function of our ecosystems. Before beginning my internships through the Chicago Botanic Garden, I never would have thought the Bureau of Land Management was at the front of such concerted efforts for plant conservation.

The National Botanical Garden. Roasty, toasty, steamy warm in the winter!

The National Botanical Garden. Toasty warm in the winter!

I have also been involved with the Plant Conservation Alliance (PCA), a joint partnership among 12 federal agency members and over 300 non-federal cooperators. In addition to its work on the National Seed Strategy which was released in 2015, PCA also developed the National Framework for Progress in Plant Conservation in 1995. I am thrilled to be working with such a radical force for botanical justice! Currently I have been reaching out to leaders in the plant conservation world looking for potential speakers at the upcoming PCA meetings.



Besides the overwhelming amount of networking here in Washington, DC I have also been seeking out the local flora – not an easy task in the winter!

This little Oxalis species showing off its adaptive capabilities in the Petworth neighborhood where I live.

This little Oxalis species showing off its adaptive capabilities in the Petworth neighborhood.

Graffiti tree

Graffiti tree on Roosevelt Island

Snowzilla definitely has been a highlight! I grew up in Seattle where snow rarely sticks around and spent much of my adult life in sunny Arizona, so shoveling snow and experiencing “blizzard” conditions was super fun!

Snowzilla Sickels!

Snowzilla Sickels!




I’m looking forward to the remainder of my time in Washington, DC. I am extremely grateful for the opportunities my CLM internships have afforded me thus far, and I am honored to be working with such an effective plant advocate and fierce feminist, my mentor Peggy Olwell.

Till next time,


Hello from Carson City NV!

“I bet you’re really wondering what you’ve gotten yourself into.”

People have been saying this to me a lot during my first week as an intern with the BLM in Carson City, and I’d say they’re pretty much spot on with that assessment.  They’re mostly referring to the uncertainty that’s followed in the wake of recent events in Oregon. But I’ll be working here in an unknown place for the next ten months, so “what I’ve gotten myself into” is a question that I’d already been pondering anyways. It’s been a rather hectic first week here, and my fellow interns and I have already learned that our plans can be changed by events outside of our control.  So – what have I gotten myself into?

I arrived here in Carson City on Sunday after spending the better part of a week driving across the country from Pennsylvania.  The next day was my first day at the field office, so my fellow interns, Alec, Monique, and Margaret, gave me a tour of the place.  My first day mostly was filled with meetings and paperwork and training videos.  Now don’t get me wrong, all of those things are great – but the part of my job I’m really looking forward to is the time spent outside among natural scenery.  So, Tuesday was a bit more interesting in that regard.

One of the major tasks that our group is undertaking at the beginning of this field season is the restoration of the former site of the American Flat Mill.  This mill processed silver and gold during the 1920’s, but was subsequently abandoned.  When it was demolished a couple of years ago, a barren field was left behind.  Now it’s the task of our crew to plant native seeds in this area, in the hopes of preventing noxious weeds from claiming the land. We spent Tuesday morning mixing seeds from different plant species together, and after lunch we drove to the site to begin planting.

Dividing up the seeds.

Dividing up the seeds.

Native sagebrush will be sprouting up here in no time!

Native sagebrush will be sprouting up here in no time!

We’d also planned to head back out into the field the following two days, but Tuesday night’s events in Oregon forced us to change our plans.  It was decided that we would be safer if we didn’t go out to our field sites for the rest of the week, so we spent the time completing more training and orientation.  We also got a chance to visit the herbarium at UN-Reno.  For me, this just built up even more anticipation to dive into the ecosystems of the eastern Sierra Nevada and Great Basin and discover new plants – or at least plants that are new to me.  That’s what I’ll be doing as a BLM intern for the next ten months, and I couldn’t be more excited to find out what the future will hold!

Until next time,

Sam Scherneck

Mycobiota of Kanaka Valley Preserve

After a busy season of collecting seeds and pressing plants, it was a pleasant change of pace to start the year’s mushroom collection last week.  We began at Kanaka Valley Preserve, an oak-woodland parcel where grassland and chaparral shrubland lie adjacent, with an abrupt transition between the two.  We collected in a shaded, grassy area where old stumps and fallen branches hosted a wide variety of mushrooms.

Our team doesn’t have much experience with mushroom ID, but armed with several books, many photos, and dried specimens, we are confident about our prospects.  If you, kind blog reader, have any insight, please comment!


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Winter in the ELFO

Since winter hit, work in the Eagle Lake Field office has slowed down a bit. With Seeds of Success completed and the remaining seasonals gone, its been extremely quiet in the office.

I was fortunate to take a few weeks off around the holidays, just as it was getting super quiet, to visit family and friends in Chicago and to take a tremendous trip to Italy. It was just long enough to make me miss Susanville!

Since coming back, I realized how short of a time I have left here. I have been working on taking full advantage of winter in Lassen County before heading to the Bay Area. Skiing at the local hill Coppervale was the first on my to do list. I also enjoyed some amazingly scenic hotsprings near Cedarville!


The Hotsprings in Cedarville!

The Hotsprings in Cedarville!


Most of the projects I have been working on since I returned have involved teaming up with the Range Specialist and Wildlife Biologist to digitize some important information in GIS. One project involved adjusting wildlife polygons for pronghorn and deer habitat. Another project involved digitizing a series of utilization inspection points into a new layer for future range projects. I have enjoyed the opportunity to take some GIS training courses and to advance my knowledge of using this program. It has also introduced me to the other type of work different parts of the office are working on.

Every now and then I am given the opportunity to go out into the field. Those days are the best days! A couple weeks ago, I had a go at performing Bald Eagle Surveys at the perfectly named Eagle Lake. Although we only spotted one Bald Eagle along our transect, it turned out to be a beautiful day. The sun was shining, the lake was frozen, and the snow wasn’t too deep for the eight mile walk along the shore!



Eagle Lake in the Winter!


I also had the chance to go on a nice drive along Smoke Creek Road to my favorite spot in the field office. The previous few days were a bit rainy, so it made for a fun and muddy ride. Thinking about it now…that was probably my last time out in the field for the remainder of my internship!



Gotta love the baby Cows on Smoke Creek Road.


Until next time!