Well, this is it. My five months are up. I’ll be leaving the Forest Service in beautiful Southeast Idaho in less than a week. More than that, I’ll be bidding the best co-intern ever good-bye. I have faced all the thrills and challenges of this summer alongside my CLM teammate: Claire Parsons. From our first exposure to the sagebrush steppe and glorious mountains of Idaho in May to our final botany adventures in the October snow, we have been quite the team.
Some final thoughts/advice regarding the friendship and CLM internship experience that I have shared with Claire:
1. Embrace working with a partner. Don’t be shy! Learning with someone is so much better than learning alone. Both myself and Claire started as interns here in Idaho with botanical knowledge of OTHER places, so we were both faced with the learning curve that new flora poses. Taking notes together and admitting ignorance regarding the new flora was such an awesome way to learn and build solidarity between us early on.
2. Seed collecting, and any other field work, is always easier with 2 people 🙂 Talk about your strategy and plan before heading out to streamline the process (e.g. while seed collecting Claire was a champion with photo and voucher taking while I covered collecting the necessary GPS points).
3. Communicate, communicate, communicate. With each other and with your mentor. Be honest about your boundaries, comfort zone in the field, and skill set! Don’t be afraid to tell your mentor about your interests and passions, they may be able to provide unique opportunities to you as a result. Don’t be afraid to share your life goals and dreams with your work partner, if you are as lucky as me, they will be such a great listener and provide priceless council and advice…or at the very least, commiserate right along with you 🙂
4. Share driving responsibility and road snacks! We put a lot of miles on the work truck because we had such amazing opportunities to do botanical work all over Idaho and in Wyoming and Utah. Soak up the places you work in and thank the many professionals and volunteers you meet. Write down names and network away!
5. Talk to the individuals in your office, seasonal and permanent employees alike. You will feel more at home at the office and may garner new/difference management and conservation insights from them. Thanks to the flexibility of our incredible mentor, Claire and I got to go out into the field with soil scientists, hydrologists, and the range crew. Ask for these opportunities!
5. The staff at CBG are amazing. Don’t hesitate to reach out to them with any questions you have or issues that arise with travel, paychecks, or time sheets! They are an incredible resource. Also, your mentor is a seasoned professional in their field-ask them questions, tap into their knowledge, take their advice! They can offer you so, so much 🙂
Well folks, that is a wrap. I hope the above reflections and suggestions are helpful! I’ll be leaving my CLM internship more skilled in all things botany and plant conservation and bidding a wonderful mentor good-bye. And, saddest of all, for the first time in five months, I will no longer be spending almost every day with my most favorite fellow botanists-in-training.
Thank you CBG and R. Lehman (best mentor ever!) for this outstanding internship opportunity, and thank you Claire for being such a gem, I am forever grateful.