Reading everyone’s blogs from the last couple weeks makes me want to write about what this internship has meant to me. My personal difference is that I have been lucky enough to get an extension, so I’m not going to be leaving Denver until February. All the same, the field season is coming to an end, and I feel justified reflecting on my last 4.5 months as a CLM Intern.

Like many of the other interns, this has been my first real job after graduation. This means that similarly, I feel that I have learned a lot about working an 8-4 job, 5 days a week. It hardly feels like a real job though, since few people are lucky enough to spend their workweek exploring beautiful places and learning about interesting native (and sometimes rare) plants. I have appreciated the opportunity to really get to know Colorado, and to observe how I deal with working in a professional environment. The variety of my job has kept me interested throughout, even through the twinges that came when the summer ended and school started back up without me.

Unlike many of the other interns, I’m from the West. As a result, a lot of my experiences here have had familiar overtones. I grew up in the mountains, driving on bad dirt roads, living around people who like to hunt and shoot guns for fun. If anything, this internship proved to be the opposite experience – from growing up in a tiny town, to going to school in a small town, to suddenly living in a city of 2.5 million people. Perhaps because of this, I can’t say that my internship has been life changing. I already knew that I wanted to end up living and working in the West, preferably outside. I still don’t know what I want to do with my life any more specifically than that, though I think that my next step is going to be continuing to look for temporary jobs with many different biological foci. Despite that fact that I haven’t found a new direction for my life, I have learned a great deal about Colorado, about the flora, about working for the government, and about myself. Personally, I am now able to comfortably be self-sufficient. This has been the first time I’ve had to buy groceries and feed myself seven days a week, pay rent, and manage my own time. Due to a number of circumstances, I have also been living alone for about half of my internship thus far, something I never dreamed I would be able to do. I’m so happy to know that I can take care of myself, be comfortable with making my own decisions, and make meaningful friendships in a new place. These are skills that I will certainly take with me when I leave, thanks to CLM.

For now though, I feel extremely lucky that I’m staying. I will continue living and working in Colorado for the winter, switching over to a new project as the temperature outside keeps dropping. I’ll be essentially conducting an in-depth literature review of native pollinators, something that the nerd in me is very excited for. Look out for updates and interesting things that I’ve learned about pollinators in the next couple months!

Sama Winder, BLM Colorado State Office

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