Well, my final days as a CBG intern at the Salt Lake Field Office have come and gone. Once I wrapped up the last of the collections and entered all the data, I had the chance to work on some side projects. One of these was to greatly spruce up the office herbarium. The old herbarium was contained in two old, fake wood cabinets that were literally falling apart. Every time I opened them, it seemed like a chunk of weird, spongy material fell out of the inside. One of the doors was completely off its hinges. There was hardly any space left either. By some miracle, we had enough room in the budget to order a shiny, new, and huge herbarium cabinet. What’s more, we were able to convince the powers that be to put it in the “intern bullpen” area so that next year all the seasonal teams can have access to it. The old herbarium was located in a part of the office that not many people visit and a majority of the office had no idea we even had an herbarium. Not anymore!
It was quite comical to hear everyone’s opinions of the new herbarium. Some people called it an eyesore. Others were very enthusiastic. The other herbarium side project was to digitize all the plant specimens in case some disaster happened or if someone wanted to do a quick look up of a species. This involved stamping and photographing every single specimen, which amounted to 1390 vouchers! Some were in horrible shape, some were very old, and then I got to add the ones I made this SOS field season in to the mix. It felt very satisfying to accomplish all that.
During my very last week, I got the opportunity to help out the new wildlife biologist with a Bat Week presentation at a local elementary school. This turned out to be a cool experience and we were relieved to find that the kids were super attentive and willing to participate. Their curiosity was very refreshing! I’m sure the teachers enjoyed a break from their regular schedule as well.
Reflecting back on the entirety of this field season, I am proud of what I and my coworker accomplished. Despite some difficulty along the way, we surpassed our collection goals, camped in awesome places, and improved on many botany skills. Having a good coworker certainly makes or breaks a field season, so I felt really lucky to once again have an awesome field partner. It also helps to have a good mentor, and ours was definitely a great one, striking a good balance between being available when we needed guidance and also trusting us to get work done on our own(and not micro-managing!). Hopefully next year the communication between the various organizations doing seed collections will exist and that next year’s crew will have a less confusing time of things on that end.
As far as the next step in life goes, I am in a state of limbo. I definitely want to spend the winter in Utah and see how that goes. I’m conflicted as to weather to pursue other seasonal opportunities or try and get the elusive full-time job. This field can be frustrating at times, but I am determined to keep pursuing it at the moment. I can’t thank the CBG enough for giving me two amazing field seasons in two great locations, and for opening my eyes to all that the West has to offer!