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.
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. 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.
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!
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!
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,