The Wonders of Teleworking

Over the holidays I was able to go back home and spend 3 wonderful weeks with my parents.  Before that, I worked with my supervisor so that I could telework at home.  The process was very simple and I am extremely grateful to my supervisors for taking the time to work through the process with me.

I left Oregon the day before a huge snowstorm and managed to make it back to Ohio and back home.  Everyday, I would work from 7am to 11am so that I could spend the rest of my time with my wonderful parents and my cute puppy, Jasmine.  Jasmine just turned one and is still a ball of energy.  I got to play with her in the yard, and attempt to snuggle her.  I played board games and watched movies with my parents, and all in all had a great time. We headed over to my mothers side of the family for a pre-Christmas celebration.  The kids spent most of the time downstairs, which left us adults to have a peaceful time.

Back home we prepared for our own Christmas celebration.  We decorated the tree while listening to Christmas music.  It really brought back memories from childhood and it felt great to be spending time with family.  As for Christmas day, it was a quite peaceful event which went off splendidly.  Shortly after Christmas, my brother came to visit, so we had the whole family back together.  We played even more board games and got outside and visited some parks while walking Jasmine.  Eventually, he left and I got to spend the final days with just my parents and dog.  Towards the end, some part of me just wanted to stay home and forget about work, but I boarded my plane and headed back to work anyways.

I originally planned on working on the plane ride home, but I saw that they had free movies through their wifi service, and couldn’t pass that up.  I watched some decent movies, but heck they were free.  Towards the end of the flight I was pretty stressed out as we left late and arrived even later due to a mix up with the flight controller.  Eventually, I got off the plane and I ran towards my next flight.  I made it just in time before they left, my heart pumping.  Then I proceeded to wait on the flight for another 20 minutes, while we were apparently waiting for another passenger.  I didn’t mind since I could have almost been that passenger.  Eventually, I arrived in Redmond and my roommate picked me up at the airport.

Shortly after, I arrived at the house and I went to sleep immediately (time zones are a real pain).  The next morning I woke up to snow falling, and it just continued to snow and snow.  The snow really piled up over the weekend, but I braved the elements and made my way to the grocery to pick up much needed supplies.  As the weekend faded into the week, my telework-athon faded back into office work.  It was actually nice to be back in the office and be around a bunch of my colleagues.  As the winter weather continues, the office actually closed a couple hours early on Tuesday.  It was almost like a snow day, except it was only a couple of hours.  Well that about sums it up, I look forward to being back in Oregon and continuing to work over the winter.

Teleworking is awesome!

This month I got the opportunity to work remotely while visiting family in London, England. This gave me the chance to check out some amazing botanical gardens including the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew and the Royal Horticultural Society’s gardens at Wisley. Below are a few highlights: A Heliconia and passion flower.

A wet winter in CA

To my surprise rain has finally returned to the Sacramento area, though we are still technically in a drought. This year it has been raining since October and hasn’t shown signs of letting up yet. Today we had to rush out to one of our BLM campgrounds just down river from the Yosemite Valley to move equipment to higher ground because this weekend heavy rains are predicted to wash our campgrounds clean. In a past flood, our picnic tables washed away, and finally retrieved them from where they were floating in the middle of the lake. I also got to learn a lot of neat history about the railroad that went through the campground when the area was being harvested for timber. This soon ceased because constant maintenance of the railroad from rockslides, floods, and washouts outweighed the financial gains from harvesting the timber.

Another project I am helping out with is looking at the pollinators of the native plants in our area. I went out to UC Davis to use their reference collection to identify some of our specimens. I also picked up some of our past specimens that we had identified by a specialist at the campus.

Other than this I have been scouting for native seeds to collect but things have been at a standstill it seems since it started raining.

A lot of other things have been going on but aren’t particularly noteworthy so I will end here.


BLM Mother Lode Field Office

Trading Mountains and Sage for Iron Hills and Deciduous Trees

It’s Christmas Eve and I am back in Jersey after the four-day trek from Buffalo, Wyoming. As I left Buffalo and the Bighorns got ever more distant in the rearview, I couldn’t help but feel sentimental (ok, and a little choked up, I admit) about my time spent at the Buffalo Field Office and exploring Wyoming. The past 8 months have been nothing short of amazing!


The last month of my internship consisted of updating and hunting down correct information for the RIPS database (range improvements), observing a pile burn with the remaining fire crew (super cool!), and scanning photos that were as old as I was into the computer. I also had the opportunity to attend the Petroleum Association of Wyoming’s Reclamation Conference in Casper to hear about how different monitoring technologies, treatments, and other reclamation efforts are effecting pesky species such as cheatgrass and medusa head. One of our own, Dusty, also gave a speech on how AIM was a useful tool in monitoring efforts, so that was pretty neat.



I knew coming out West would be a very different experience. As an East Coast person, the pace of life, lesser volumes of people, and wide open lands were something I had to adjust to. It was nice to live in a traffic-free and more friendly environment for the majority of the year! I also knew I would learn a lot and hopefully further narrow down what I want to do with my career. Between all the trainings and then being able to get a whopping 30+ AIM sites accomplished with Nick, the summer 2016 field season was a success (despite the wind and the extreme dryness).

Over the course of this internship, my botany skills have improved greatly. While I wouldn’t consider myself an expert (yet!), it’s definitely become more interesting to me and I look forward to further improving upon those skills at whatever job or internship comes my way next. I’m also proud to say I never once accidentally sat on a cactus while working on our AIM sites, which may seem silly, but was a small personal victory.

I definitely will miss being able to escape into the mountains and working in such a great field office. When I think of Wyoming, I’ll be able to smell the sage and remember the mountains, badlands, and high plains. Nick and I had the good fortune of working in some cool country, seeing public lands that are difficult to access. The places we saw are rarely seen by others, and I’ll always be grateful of the opportunity to have spent time in those places. So, with that being said, it’s been a wonderful time and I can’t thank the CLM program enough for giving me this incredible chance!

Photo courtesy of Justin, legendary BLM intern

-Corinne Schroeder, Buffalo Field Office

Endings are Hard

Over the years, I’ve come to dread this time of year as it means the ending of another great field season.  I absolutely love my job and the plethora of environments I get to work in, but it’s still hard to say goodbye to a wonderful project and equally wonderful people. At the start of each field season, I always wonder if this will be the year where I won’t get along with my coworkers or that they won’t share the same passion for plants or conservation I do, but every year the love of science prevails and I somehow find myself surrounded by equally passionate people. Each year, not only do I get to work with plants while trudging through the mud, I get to work with people who bring a unique piece to our team and form an efficient cohesive whole. Each year I learn more and more about plants, ecology, and various research techniques and each year I am subjected to many different perspectives.


S.O.S for salt marshes!


Eriophorum virginicum from Ponkapoag Bog

Working with the same group of people in often challenging and uncomfortable environments brings about a certain closeness that other perhaps less intense working environments would. People bond while doing difficult things, like standing on a beach in howling wind while collecting Distichlis spicata, or getting lost in a dense sea of Phragmites, or even sitting through hours of endless traffic. These challenges and the connections I make with my coworkers are part of the reason I love my job so much. Outside of learning about the environment and plants, this practice of endurance also teaches humility, patience, and most importantly effective communication.


The Distichlis spicata collection

The CLM experience, both this year and last, has made me a better person and inspired me to never stop fighting for the planet and the wild places I love so much. I will never forget the skills I have learned or the people I have met. So for all of my crew members, Cassy, Krista, Julia, Matt, Kyla, Kent, and so many others, thank you for your passion, dedication, and drive. For all my supervisors, Michael, Patty, Don, and Glen, thank you for giving me the opportunity to make a difference and to learn. There are so many moments and skills that I will remember.


Cassy, Krista, Julia, and Me (Abbe)

I am so proud to have been a part of the CLM Internship Program and so grateful for the opportunity to meet so many people and work on conservation projects.

Thank you,

Abbe, Intern with the New England Wildflower Society


Closing Time


When I headed out to Safford, AZ in May I came from the mountains of Wyoming, a place I absolutely loved, in a move I knew would be a huge change of pace for me.  I had never lived in a desert environment before, and all of my family and friends wondered why I would move from one of the most beautiful places on earth to a small town seemingly in the middle of nowhere.  To them it may have not have made any sense, but inside of me I knew what my goals for myself were and if they were left unpursued, then I knew I would soon feel restless, even in the shadow of Tetons.  In high school I decided that I wanted to pursue a career in field biology, and chances like this that the CLM program offer do not come around often, so when it was offered I knew it was something that I had to do.

I will be the first to admit I often find myself daydreaming of hiking or skiing back in the high country. However, this experience has not only changed me for the better but also given me experience and opportunities that would not have been offered had I stayed in my comfort zone.  As I have mentioned in previous blog posts, our main project we work on is invasive species eradication on a National Conservation Area.  While sometimes monotonous, for the first time in my life I had a job that was goal-oriented with tangible objectives and signs of success, which led me to feel personally invested in what I was doing.  Not only did I enjoy what I was doing, I also felt that there was a reason to do what I was doing.  With the temperatures dropping, fish are not moving as much so we have halted fish work for the season, but our biologists feel pretty confident that our project (which has been going on for around a decade) is complete and the Green Sunfish has been extirpated from Bonita Creek.  With this objective complete, it means that I can look back on these eight months spent in a small desert town in a positive light.

This internship also proved to be a vital stepping stone going forward, as I will continue doing fish research with a private company in Phoenix that the BLM in Safford works with quite extensively.  This opportunity would never have come to fruition without this internship, which is another reason taking the internship has proven worthwhile.  Due to that, I would like to thank the Chicago Botanic Garden, the CLM program, Krissa, Rebecca and everyone else that gave me this opportunity.  Future interns, if you are reading this, know that this program can be a great stepping stone to that career you have in mind.



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Out of the Field and Into…the Office

Well folks, I’m back! Once again I find myself amongst some of the most adventuresome, hardworking and environmentally conscientious of America’s post college youth – The CLM interns. I’m a veteran at this point, as it is my 3rd time in the internship. I’m returning after my first season as a real government employee. Through my second internship in Prineville Oregon, I was able to be hired on the following season as a Biological Science Technician – Plants. Whew! What a handle. Lets keep it simple and call it a Botany Tech. There, that’s much easier. As a Botany Tech here at the Prineville BLM I was able to mentor the next generation of CLM interns tasked with seed collecting. I also had an introduction to performing Botany Clearance work. This entailed “ground truthing” projects before they are approved. For example, someone wants to build a fence, or create a new trail system. I go out to the field site prior to the action and ensure that no Special Status plants will be harmed in the course of this project, and to make suggestions as to minimizing the impacts of the project on the native flora at the site. Then, I go back to the office and write a report of all my observations. Much of my time during the field season was spent doing Botany Monitoring (I got to do this a tiny bit in my internship the year before as well.) This is by far the COOLEST part of the job. It’s a rare plant treasure hunt. I went to some very distant and extraordinarily beautiful places on our district, hiked up to 6 miles in a day over isolated and rugged terrain, all the while searching for rare/endemic plants. Much of the time I was locating populations that are mapped (it can still be a challenge to find them) but in a few cases I actually discovered new populations unknown to BLM humans. Or most likely, any humans. So these discoveries were quite exciting. The other large chunk of my time was spent doing AIM, (Assessment Inventory and Monitoring). This is a very specific protocol for monitoring the landscape. The effort is BLM wide. Myself and my partner set up AIM plots on areas that had burned in intense and large scale wildfires in year 2014. We collected really detailed and extensive data on vegetation and soils. I learned tons of new skills such as driving trailers, digging and interpreting soil pits, and how to perform the Point Line Intercept method. We completed 26 plots! Our data will be used to make management decisions regarding how to best rehab the native plant community and control invasive annual grass infestations. After I wrapped up my work as a Botany Tech, I accepted this 3 month CLM internship to act as a general Botany Program assistant. I will be mapping all the populations I monitored over the summer and my newly discovered populations into a GIS program the Oregon BLM uses called GeoBOB. I’m attending a training for that next week. I’m also handling the load of office and herbarium odds and ends that pile up during the field season. While I do love the field, I think this will be a good opportunity to see the behind the scenes work and planning that makes a good field season possible. Cheers to all of us sticking it out in office winter internships. We are tough cookies. I’m looking forward to the next few months. Following are some photos from my field season. I thought they would be nicer to look at than my desk!

Orobanche uniflora - a little parasitic cutie

Orobanche uniflora – a little parasitic cutie

Hiking up steep ephemeral streams in search of rare plants

Hiking up steep ephemeral streams in search of rare plants

Scutellaria nana of the Great Basin pumicey soils

Scutellaria nana of the Great Basin pumicey soils

traffic jam in the Ochoco Mountains

traffic jam in the Ochoco Mountains

Monitoring site on a stormy day

Monitoring site on a stormy day

Achnatherum hendersonii- a special status grass

Achnatherum hendersonii– a special status grass

Rainbow from the AIM plot

Rainbow from the AIM plot

My beloved botany rig and rare Castilleja

My beloved botany rig and rare Castilleja

Scavenger hunt under the Pondos

Scavenger hunt under the Pondos

Office Life

This month I am really settling in to life in the State Office! My cube now has 5 posters and I’m slowing growing my book collection; although my shelf is mostly occupied by a
few beautiful sea shells I picked up in Mexico over Thanksgiving.

My current hobbies include making maps in ArcGIS, playing with pivot tables in Excel and learning about endangered species.

This month has been very busy; several visits to the Taos Field office including a introductory tour for the new botanist, a successful interdisciplinary team meeting at the Rio Puerco district office and more DOI Learn trainings than you can shake a stick at.

Office Work, Teleworking and Snow

November has started to fade into December and things haven’t seemed to change much.  While the temperature has continued to fall and now there is a fairly consistent snow on the ground, things seem to keep on going.  Much more of my time has been devoted to office work, given the fact that it is actually winter.  However, I have managed to get out into the field scouting for pygmy rabbits, learning the basics of fence repair, scouting out Oregon spotted frog habitat, and checking nests for eagle activity.  These field days are a breath of fresh air after staying in the office for days on end.

However, I am currently writing this from home, (not Oregon home, but back in my real home in Ohio).  I am working on finishing up descriptions of sensitive species to be used in later NEPA documents, and since that can be done electronically, I am able to telework. The whole process for teleworking was not too arduous, I just needed to jump through a couple of hoops, get some forms signed, and watch a training video.  My supervisor and her boss were wonderful in supporting me to be able to spend the holiday with my family and to help me though the process.

In my pursuit of knowledge of sensitive species, I am currently investigating the Oregon spotted frog, and I am actually reading the paper in 1996 that found strong genetic evidence of a separate species of spotted frog that would eventually become the Columbia spotted frog.  This kind of literature review can be extremely rewarding, especially once you have a finished product after organizing and compiling all of your notes.  If I have to be working over the holidays, there aren’t a lot of other things that I would rather be doing.

Aside from work, I was able to get some good birding in back in Oregon, and hope to be able to do some in Ohio.  There is a red-phase screech owl that seems to be roosting in a set location, so I may take a drive up there and see if I can find it and take some photos!!  Recently, I was able to get some really nice photos of sage-grouse out on a wintery morning in late November, and finally got a decent photo of my frustrating barn owl.

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The End of a Wonderful Internship

Sad to say that after six months, I have now finished up my CLM internship with the New England Wild Flower Society. I must say, I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything, but I’m quite happy to be off the Boston roads! I’ve learned so much since starting this internship, most importantly I have gained so many skills in botany. I came to this internship being able to identify most common trees, and I left with the skills to use a dichotomous key to key out most plants, and the sight ability to identify many of the common native plants of the northeast. In addition to the skills, I’ve learned that I LOVE knowing what plants are around me. In addition to my new found love of botany, I have developed skills in group work, field knowledge, and interacting with landowners.

The fall brought a wonderful change to Boston (as it always does in New England), and I felt like I got an extended Fall, as we got the colors all the way from Maine to Connecticut and then I travelled to North Carolina and caught the colors there! The fall brought relief from the terrible hot weather we had this summer, bringing with it some rain too. We reached our goal of 200 collections and then some, ending with 305 collections for the year.

As I reflect on my time in Boston, I think about some of my favorite things. My favorite seed to collect was Ilex verticillata once the leaves fell, as the berries could simply be raked from the branches. My favorite day in the field was one day at Pachaug State Forest in Voluntown, CT. It was early November and just two of us were in the field that day, and the forest was simply beautiful! My favorite field site was private property on Cape Cod, MA that used to be cranberry bogs. My favorite activity we did as a group was one day when we had some extra time we adventured to Cape Cod National Seashore. I am so fortune to have explored coastal New England from Scarborough Maine to Hammonassett Beach, Madison, CT throughout this internship.

Looking towards the future, I will be attending the University of Connecticut as a graduate assistant in the Natural Resources Department. I look forward to learning more about management and building my skills towards a career in land management.

Below are some pictures from throughout my time in New England. img_6058 img_6147 img_6181 img_6196 img_6202 img_6219 img_6258 img_6992 img_7151


My wonderful side-kick Daisy welcomed me home!

My wonderful side-kick, Daisy, welcomed me home!

Thanks to NEWFS and CBG for everything.

–Julia Rogers, NEWFS, SOS-East