What a whirlwind these past weeks have been! After a brief week working with my mentor in the BLM , it was off to the Midwest to attend the CLM training workshop at the Chicago Botanic Garden.

I arrived in the Windy City as one of fifty interns who traveled from their positions out west to attend the weeklong workshop.  Our training was based out of the Chicago Botanic Garden’s Plant Science Center.  Nestled among beautiful gardens, the building is a recent addition fulfilling the dual purpose of scientific research and outreach and education — showing the public that scientists are real people too!  Throughout the week our curriculum covered everything from the history of the Bureau of Land Management and plant taxonomy/ identification to proper seed collection protocol and mitigating field hazards.

Although training entailed several powerpoint presentations, we were also able to put our new skills to the test in the CBG’s nearby gardens and habitat preserves. I was given the first-hand opportunity to encounter the frustrations of using a dichotomous key to identify unknown plants and face the difficulty of determining the proper plant sampling technique.  Although challenging at times, with our instructors’ knowledge and support at our side we were able to master new skills and even have a few good laughs along the way.

Training was not only a great opportunity to brush up on skills vital to my new internship, but also to meet many of my fellow interns.  I had a blast hearing about the beautiful scenery, management projects, and general ridiculousness that others have experienced during their positions.  It’s nice to know that regardless of how challenging my job may be at times I’m not in it alone.

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