Oregon Intern Part 2: Not Quite Field Season AKA Office Adventures

Hi all!

First off, I’d just like to say this: I’m beyond excited to be a part of the CLM program again, and I’m so incredibly happy to have been placed in Oregon for a second time, as it had become a second home over the course of my first internship. I can’t quite say I’m a full-fledged Oregonian yet– that takes a lot more time, flannel shirts, and locally roasted coffee. But, I do feel a lot of love for the land here. Oregon is peaceful.

This time around, I’m stationed in Medford, Oregon, a bustling city nestled snugly between the Cascade Range and the Siskiyou Mountains. I feel pretty lucky to be living here. Looking out my apartment window, I can see tons of gorgeous snow-capped mountains, and the valley itself is home to tons of orchards and vineyards. Ashland, the next town over, is home to the Shakespeare Festival, as well as a diverse music scene. I predict many hikes, concerts, and wine-tasting ventures in my future.

A view from Tallowbox Mountain

On my first day of work, my mentor introduced me to the area through a long hike to the top of Tallowbox mountain, where I was able to get a bird’s eye view of the Medford district. It was a lot like that scene in the Lion King, where Simba and Mufasa are sitting on top of Pride Rock and Mufasa is like “Look, Simba, everything the light touches is our kingdom.” (I’m mostly kidding, ha ha). I was glad to see that many of the species I had become familiar with from my internship in Roseburg were also common to the Southern Oregon, and I spent some time learning a few species I hadn’t heard of before.

Garrya fremontii– Frémont’s silktassel


Ericameria nauseosa (rubber rabbitbrush)


Field season hasn’t truly kicked off yet (many of our field sites are still covered in snow), so my first couple of weeks with the Medford BLM were spent immersing myself in a variety of cubicle-based activities. I can say with a fairly large amount of confidence that I am now intimately familiar with the botanical survey file cabinet. One major benefit of my office adventures has been that I’m beginning to have a much better understanding of the inner workings of the BLM. Throughout my first internship, I spent most of my time in the field, so I had no real conception of the incredible amount of bureaucracy that can go into a managing public lands. By spending more time in the office I’ve begun to wrap my head around the type of work done by full-fledged botanists: multitudes of meetings, boatloads of paperwork, hours of GIS work, and endless emails. Just the other day, I sat in on a meeting between the district botanists as they spoke about their new annual treatment plan and the upcoming field season. Contracts were discussed, plans were made, dozens of acronyms were used. I questioned whether or not they were speaking some foreign language. I had already known that the government speaks in acronyms, but I didn’t know what the majority of them meant. The botanists were very kind and paused their conversations periodically to explain what certain things meant, and how they related to their work. With time, overwhelming confusion faded into a desire to keep up with the conversation. It’s been hard, but I’m starting to get the hang of it!

The Big Friendly Filing Cabinet

Overall, these first couple of weeks have been educational, to say the least! I’m definitely looking forward to field season, but I’m really glad to have been able to spend some time learning about all the office work that goes into that. It’s given me a lot more respect and understanding for this type of work.


First of the Season

Hello CLM bloggers and scientists; happy spring!

I’ve gotten a hearty welcome here in Maryland at the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historic Park, and have a feeling I’m going to learn quite a few plants here.

I’ve also learned (in the barely-one-week-and-a-half I’ve been here) a bit about snakehead fish finding their way into the canal, about the collaboration necessary to re-route a trail then add a sturdier bridge, about aqueducts and mule-towed boats.

Back in the canal’s heyday, mules walked along the towpath tugging a cargo boat up the canal (which would be opposite the river, to the left of the towpath, and out of photo). Here’s a photo of the towpath and the Potomac River.

I had the opportunity to head into the park and check out some sites where construction would impact the land by driving heavy machinery, dumping soil, or clearing trees. We didn’t find any rare plants, so business continues.

What about some botany? What am I doing? Rare plant surveys! Identifying and keying  to be sure what I’ve found is rare. Counting and keeping data. Looking for any effects invasive species and land use might have on historically documented vegetation communities.

The neat thing about the Chesapeake and Ohio canal National Historical Park is the diversity of the flora. Because it spans communities from bustling metropolis to historic farm villages with a few people per mile, there is a chance for many types of habitats to foster introduced and native species, as well as those not found in many other places. I get to look for those not often found elsewhere.
Challenge accepted!

Gosh the anticipation of getting out into the field is killing me, mostly because the more time I spend leafing through the Flora of Virginia, the less competent I feel. I know that’s just winter. I’m not saying the snow isn’t beautiful, especially with at least a half foot of it lining the Potomac right now, but I miss being engulfed in the green seasons.  I thought Maryland doesn’t usually get much snow…

Anyway, here is a photo of a native plant I captured a few days ago, Mertensia virginica, or Virginia bluebells. It’s not flowering yet, but we’ll get there!

Here’s to a great season!




By the way, anything I post in this blog is my opinion, and not necessarily that of NPS or CBG.