A Season In the Wilderness

Here I am, the end of August, the last lull of heat in the desert before the autumn breaks this stagnancy.  It has been quite dead around the office due to the heat and not going into the field.  And who would want to?  Even though it has been a “cool” summer in the Mojave Desert (average daily temperature around 112° F instead of 122° F, still hot if you ask me) there is still no motivation to do field work.

My internship is drawing to an end and there is so much I want to express.  It has taught me so much- both about myself and about life.  I would do another one in a heartbeat, and highly considering applying again.  Not so much that I don’t know what else to do with my life- I want to be a botanist, conservation scientist, and balanced.  It is more of what I gained from this that draws me back to participate again.  I plan to return to wilderness areas (such as I did working in the desert) many more times in my life.  It is a place where I can face myself and my fears, and come out stronger in the end.

my favorite mountain range in the Needles FIeld Office- Kingston Mountains

Here are the personal highlights of what I gained from this internship:

  • Be inspired by someone, famous or not, allow their inspiration to lift you to do your best.  I have found inspiration in the desert:  Edward Abby and his books, my 90 year old Great Aunt Crystal, along with my amazing mentor- Hanem Abouelezz.
  • Life is what YOU make of it.  Experience can be good or bad depending on your perception of the events.  Do not react to life, act in it, participate in it in a positive manner to ensure you are making the best of whatever comes at you.
  • Is the glass half empty or half full?  YOU DECIDE.  Step back and think about how you are reacting and perceiving and decide if this way of acting is serving you or not.  A positive attitude, immersing yourself in a positive energy of life, whatever you wish to call it, has amazing effects on quality of life.  You do not need to be comfortable to have an amazing quality of life- you only need to have confidence that life is an experience to fully imbibe .  Soak it in my friends.
  • Everyone in my internship has been nothing but willing to help me out when I needed it.  At first I resisted, carrying with me a sort of rugged individualism perspective that I did not need anyone’s help and could figure it out on my own.  However, one day out in the field a co-worker explained to me this philosophy: “I know you are in a tight place in your life financially, and I will cover lunch for today.  Just as those who covered lunch for me when I was your age and in your spot.  These sorts of things are not to be paid back to me, but paid forward to someone else later in your life when you have the ability to do it.”  It is impossible for me at this time to pay back the kindness and assistance people gave to me right now, but I do know one thing-  I plan to pay forward everything I have received.

Yellow Bat (Lasuiris spp.)

I have also grown professionally from this internship in my path to becoming a botanist/conservation scientist.  I have done ArcGIS work, tons of independent plant taxonomy and field work, and understand of what it  is like to work for the federal government.  This internship has only reinforced the passion I have for plants and conservation.  I gained other awesome biology experiences as well doing bat mist netting and abandon mine bat out flight surveys.  If I were to study mammals, bats would be a likely choice for me after this experience with them.  Up close, they are ADORABLE.  As the only true flying mammals, they are fascinating.  From an ecological standpoint they are quite important.


From my long summer reading list here is an excerpt from my newest favorite book:

“People are afraid to pursue their most important dreams, because they feel that they don’t deserve them, or that they’ll be unable to achieve them.  We, their hearts, become fearful just thinking of loved ones who go away forever, or of moments that could have been good but weren’t, or of treasures that might have been found but were forever hidden in the sands.  Because, when these things happen, we suffer terribly.” p 130 The Alchemist

Do not let down your heart and not pursue your most important dreams.  Life that society dictates we should live can come later, and those who say you are unfit for what you aspire to only give you more of a reason to reach it.  Reaching a dream is not an easy task.  It will take a lot of hard work and persistence, but it is those with persistence that will outlast us all and reach their goals and dreams.

This internship has had its ups and downs, but all for the better.  I have a great admiration for the Chicago Botanic Garden and those who made and are still making this internship possible.  Keep up the good work.


CBG Intern BLM Needles Field Office


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