I was very happy to be offered a position interning with the Burns District Office. I did not know anything about the area. I did not know it was desert filled with sagebrush and rabbitbrush. I did not know it was two hours from Bend, the nearest “city”. I did not really think much about the area. I was simply elated to be going to Oregon. What a cool place!!! I was also happy to be able to answer when the people asked what I would be doing after graduation. And after graduation I flew to California, learned to drive stick, and drove to Southeastern Oregon.
The landscape in Southeastern Oregon is thrilling. The land spreads out so far the eyes ache to find and take in the edges. It is colored in yellow-brown and the sky in varying shades of blue. Sometimes when I’m driving, and I look out through the open window, and I see the undulations, the sheer rock, the little farmsteads, I feel that it might be too beautiful to ever leave this place.
I learned many new plants since coming here. I shall certainly recall climbing about various and sometimes rather treacherous spots in Harney County to identify plants. The early spring and summer were my favorite times for identifying plants. In the second week I was sent out to do special status plant inventorying and I got to sit around all day and identify plants. It was really fun then because there were so many forbs and everything was bright and glowing and green and healthy. It was a comforting feeling when first coming here, and being sent out to pretty much identify every plant there was, to see an Allium or Rosa and have a place to start. Knowing plants is an amazing thing, and my skills in using dichotomous keys have improved exponentially. It is very exciting when, after you have checked and cross checked, you confirm that you have correctly identified a species. Wherever you go in the world you will have some familiarity with the flora. You will recognize family and genus even if you do not know the species, and you will never know all the species!
This internship has also made me realize how much I have yet to learn. Some personal goals are to learn to identify more grasses in Minnesota or Massachusetts, depending on where I end up living. I would also like to learn to identify more trees and to identify them by their bark, which is a great way to do it in the winter without leaves. Since I was in the sagebrush desert, we saw few trees except for junipers or around riparian areas. Whenever I went north I would keep wondering what all the pine trees were! I remember that I learned some of them in class, but have since forgotten. So that will be a goal to keep expanding my botanical identification skills when I return home.
Another thing I learned is that you will always learn a lot on the job. The skills you already have are merely a jumping off point. Ask a lot of questions and write down the answers. I have learned new plants, new monitoring methodologies, new GPS skills, how to drive a rig, how to drive off-road, and a little more about how to navigate USAJobs. I’m naturally a little skittish, and I have learned that you will get to do more if you ask to do more and just go find more to do.
All in all, it was a good time had, largely due to the efforts of my mentor, Caryn Burri, as well as our local guide for the summer Randy Tiller (also, a tiller is part of a grass). Thanks also to Krissa and Rebecca! I will enjoy showing a few of my favorite Harney County spots to my Mom when she comes to visit this week!
Signing off forever,
Burns District BLM
p.s. here are some picture from our last photo shoot. Ariana is a model, like true dawg. BEST FRIENDS!! <3 <3 <3 😀 Also, Justin C. is a legend here. The end.