All Good Things…

Over the past 8 months, I’ve had a lot of really amazing opportunities here with the BLM / CLM internship program. I’ve gained experience with rare species monitoring, seed mixing, data management, GIS mapping, restoration seeding, plant identification, and more. Although I didn’t get the experience of being in a new place like most CLM interns because I already lived in Eugene, I did get to experience the place I live in a very different way.


“When I’m on all fours pawing through blades of grass in search of the tiny seedlings of Lomatium Bradshawii (a listed wetland prairie species) I feel like I’m part of a private universe.

Few people take the time to look closely… really closely at their landbase.

To most, the minute details in that particular place are completely invisible. Although plot work can at times be tedious, I try to remember how special it is to be able to interact daily with plants and animals most people will never even see.” – Rare Plant & Butterfly Monitoring in the Wetland Prairies of Western Oregon, May 2015


Most of my work centered around counting rare plants but I was also lucky to learn how to identify a variety of common species as well.

“These surveys introduced me to more than a dozen non-native prairie species and refreshed my knowledge of an equal number of native species. I’m excited to continue to hone my skills as a botanist in the upcoming months of this internship!” –   WEW Botanical Surveys, June 2015


I’m a quiet and reflective person by nature, and I don’t usually struggle with tedious activities. This internship forced me to push beyond my comfort zone and helped me to gain a renewed appreciation for all of the plant-monitoring work that is done on federal lands for conservation.

“Doing this much intensive and detail-oriented monitoring has been a challenge. There is usually a fleeting moment when I question a few life choices and fantasize about a desk job, or even my past as a bartender / waitress. I bribe myself with sips of coffee and the occasional stretch in an effort to ignore sore knees and the sharp florets poking through my socks and into my ankle bones. I agonize over my ability to detect each tiny plant and constantly push myself to look closer. My muscles strain and my mind wanders… only 30 more to go…

I’ve never meditated much but I imagine that the struggle to quiet one’s mind is similar to that of careful monotonous counting. In the end, my work equates to a few rows and columns of data; a collection of numbers to better know the trajectory of these rare species. As we walk to the car I notice my internal dialog with each step…1,2,3,4… I’m caught in a loop of numbers and when I close my eyes I can see those delicate leaves, the bashful flowering stem, and a particular shade of green that separates one plant from another in my mind’s eye.” – Counting Daisies, July 2015

Although it was sometimes a challenge, this position helped to solidify my future goals and gave me renewed motivation to pursue restoration as a career.

“Oddly, the notion that I could spend the rest of my life working to unlock the best possible way to restore native plant communities… and never truly find that answer… is one of the most appealing aspects of becoming a restoration practitioner. Unending challenge and the constant need to adapt, re-think, and start over, sounds like a lot of fun. Field work detached from that thought process will never hold my interest for more than the short term.” – An End to Vegetation Monitoring… The Beginning Of? August 2015


When I started this internship, I had already been working for over a year to put together a funded research project so that I could get my master’s degree. 8 months later, I’m finished with my first term of school and well on my way to designing several restoration-related research projects for my thesis. I’m thrilled to be one step closer to my goal of becoming a researcher and restoration practitioner.

“After several years of constantly feeling like everything was either just about to work out or blow up in my face I often look back and think of many things I wish I had known or done differently.

One of the hardest lessons I had to learn was how to tell the difference between things I had control over and those I didn’t… to put my future in the hands of my advisor and a host of strangers… and to just hope everything would work out.” – How Not to Start Graduate School, September 2015


One of my favorite activities of this internship was making wild seed mixes for restoration projects in the Willamette Valley. Doing this work solidified my desire to one day become an experienced grower of native plants.

“There is something truly amazing about being elbow deep in a bag full of Lomatium nudicaule seed that made the journey all the way from wild collection in a nearby remnant prairie, into a seed increase bed at a local native plant nursery, through an intense cleaning process, and finally back into the hands of the ecologists and botanists who will plant them into the threatened habitats they started in.” – Seed Castle October 2015


“While sprinkling the seed that I mixed while working at the “Seed Castle, I realized that this internship has allowed me to come full circle. Last spring and summer I spent my time quantifying the percent cover of native prairie species, then I learned to make seed mixes, and finally I got to spread seed on the ground for the next intern to quantify.” – Job Security, December 2015

The day is coming to an end and I’m turning in my ID card, keys, cleaning the hard drive, and compiling a list of accomplishments to add to my resume. I’m looking forward to devoting all of my time to my master’s degree and my research in the Great Basin this spring but will miss the meadowlark songs in the summer heat of the prairie, the hummocky wetland landscape, and the feeling of being at the beginning of this journey.


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