Embracing The Botanist Within

My campsite and its breathtaking view of a typical Nevada sunset (near Carlton, NV).

Prior to my CLM internship, I typically believed that you had to formally work towards an identity in order to truly become it. For example, I was hesitant to call myself a botanist before this position because I had not received a degree or formal training in botany. I would simply tell people I enjoyed identifying plants. Now, I would argue that I have always been a botanist and will always be one, regardless of what my degree might indicate. This position has reminded me of who I am and where my passion lies. (spoiler alert: it lies with the plants!)

The gorgeous view from where I took lunch on my first day in the field.

The first day I went out into the field to identify plants was one of my most memorable field days. My coworker, mentor, and I intended on visiting four different sites that day to scout for native plant populations and practice off-road driving. We all can admit, it was quite the ambitious plan to make for ourselves that afternoon. We made it to our first site and spent nearly the entire day there just getting to know the plant community. There were so many new forbs and grasses just waiting to be identified! We soon came to learn there is nothing more threatening to the constraint of time than three impassioned botanists in a high desert full of blooming forbs. I have never been introduced to so many plants in such a short period of time! All of which were incredibly beautiful and unique. I could say this to describe my first day in the field and every day in the field since. And this is just the beginning because it’s only my fourth week in Nevada! With every new plant I learn, the more I understand about the system it is a part of. It has been both exhilarating and inspiring to know that not only is this my job, but this is what I love to do and who I am. As we were sitting on rocks eating our lunches that day, I thought to myself, I could do this every day for the rest of my life and feel completely & entirely fulfilled. Since then, I have continued to immerse myself fully into the wonderful world of plants.

This is the Cobweb Thistle, otherwise known as Cirsium occidentale.

Ultimately, this internship has completely altered how I would identify myself as a professional in my field. As I’ve mentioned before, I believe I always was and always will be a botanist regardless of whether I am in practice or in my heart. My curiosity and drive to understand the plants around me will never leave. Identifying plants and recognizing their phenology has become the brunt of my job responsibilities, and was exactly what I needed in order to embrace the botanist within me!

The California Tiger Lily, Lilium pardalinum, basking in the sweet sunshine.

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