Im melting and everything is hot and might burn but at least that Clarkia is pretty

Writing this post in a fervor, fearing the inevitable power outage that comes in the afternoons on days that are way too hot. It’s fire season here in Plumas National Forest and this week we have started to feel it. Yesterday, PG&E turned of the power as a precaution because of a several thousand acre fire growing in Oroville, just 65 miles away. We returned from a weary day in the field to a powerless and wifi-less town and ranger station. Most concerningly, we had lost power to our fridges in the bunkhouses and our newly purchased pints of Ben and Jerry’s were slowly melting away. June 21st may have technically been the first day of summer, but on July 2 here in Quincy we celebrated the real start of summer, aka fire season, eating ice cream soup in the dark.

Besides this slight unpleasantness, the start of my CLM internship here in Plumas NF has been fantastic – especially botanically. Plumas is often referred to as the “Lost Sierra” due to its lack of prominence on travel websites and Instagram location tags. Because of this, besides the occasional music festival and ‘Rainbow Family Gathering’, the area does not experience many tourists. The more beauty for us then. My co-intern Andrea and I spent the first couple weeks of this month cruising around secluded mountain ‘roads’, swamping through wet meadows, and traversing rocky ridgetops in an effort to get familiar with the varied and interesting botanical members of this community. Guided by the resident forest service botanist and our mentor, Andy Fiel, we have seen hundreds of species. To learn plants quickly, Andy had us shadow him on this rare plant surveys. We walked transects through timber plots, recording every vascular plant we saw with a specific focus on rare plants in the area. Keying out whatever we didn’t know either in a local flora or what must be the 5000lbs Jepson, we grew more acquainted with our leafy (and sometimes achlorophyllous) friends.

If I wanted to I could just fill this entire post with all of the cool plants we’ve been lucky enough to come across but I will show some restraint. Above are some sweet Ericaceaes and a fantastic orchid that Andy was particularly excited to see. It warranted a lengthy photo session from all of us. We certainly didn’t learn every plant out here in these first couple weeks and likely won’t even come close by the end of the summer, but these surveys helped us build confidence in figuring things out. With this training and the eventual procurement of our government rig, a charmingly rickety forest green 2008 F-150, we were able to leave the nest and begin seed work!

The past week or so has been a lot of scouting, scouting, scouting and the occasional session of scouting. Driving around with the passenger’s head practically hanging out the window looking for grasses with just the right shaped inflorescence or a patch of lupines with only slightly ciliate keels. Its nice to feel the wind in you hair and have a target species with a large population in your sights. Slowly but surely, Andrea and I are building out a map of populations to return to and watch develop throughout the season. Yesterday marked our first collection day! A large population of Calyptridium umbellatum that we’d been monitoring for a week or so was finally crispy enough to harvest. It was quite satisfying to fill up several envelopes of what is ultimately mostly chaff but seemingly quality seed nonetheless. Admittedly, some of that seed went flying around our truck on the drive home because the envelopes broke open. Still plenty of kinks to work out but it is wonderful to be off the starting block and along the way!

What’s in a name? Turns out, Shakespeare, quite a lot

Starting a new job means learning a lot of new names, and not just my coworkers’.

“Do you know who this is?” William asked, staring at a stem of grass in each hand.

I looked at Cicely, my fellow CLM intern, and then back at William. We were at a loss, and honesty is the best policy. “Um, no.”

He broke into a huge grin, shoving the plants into our hands. “It’s Timothy! In the boot!”

We quickly learned that our newest friend was Timothy grass, aka Phleum pratense, and “in the boot” is botany slang for when the panicle is still developing in the leaf sheath (read: the fluffy part of the grass hasn’t popped out yet). Cicely and I have only been working for about two weeks now, and our time has been mostly split between threatened species surveys and trainings. Lots of matching the face to the name, morphology to binomial nomenclature.

At this all-day grass workshop that William was leading, we spent most of the day going through dichotomous keys and practicing identification skills. There is nothing like sitting on the forest floor and measuring awn length through a loupe. Truly nothing like it.

Our group with botanist William Schlegel in Lolo National Forest

Our training also included “Deb Day” where Deborah Goslin, a retired botany technician and wellspring of knowledge, drove us around various sites and showed us many of the species our Forest Service site monitors. Deb really instilled in us a ‘stop and smell the ponderosas’ attitude. I am developing a reverence for the ecology of this forest: green on verdant green, strong-standing Douglas firs protecting the nodding onion in the understory below, how the tubular scarlet gilia is shaped so perfectly for the Rufous hummingbird’s beak. In the most literal sense of the term, it is awesome.

From left to right: me, Cicely, Li, and Deb at the top of Painted Rocks
“Baby’s first federally listed sensitive species!”: Castilleja covilleana

I feel like I’m learning so much every day that my brain is going to expand into my skull Megamind-style. Something that botany is teaching me is how names hold so much meaning. Take, for example, Lewisia rediviva (pictured below). Genus Lewisia is named for Meriwether Lewis of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, who ate this root on his journey and collected specimens for Western botanists. The term rediviva comes from its ability to ‘revive’ from roots that could seem dead or dry – a useful skill in hot, rocky environments and intermontane grasslands. However, long before it had a Latin name, it went by several Indigenous names, including the Salish sp̓eƛ̓m̓ (spetlum) which means ‘bitter’. French trappers and traders also noted the bitter taste and called it racine amère, which translates directly in English to bitterroot!

From just a few words you can see the plant’s life cycle and its history with humanity. Isn’t that incredible? I saw my first bitterroot in bloom while on a hike in Missoula, before even entering the eponymous valley. It’s hard to name the feeling I had, seeing the plant that is so integral and defining to this place. Gratitude, responsibility, and joy are all true, but don’t seem to cover the depth of it. Regardless, those pink petals were the warmest welcome anyone could ask for. I’m so excited for the rest of the season in Bitterroot National Forest.

The famous root!

Until next time,


Setting New Roots

Travelling and moving to a new place can always be daunting, but Pollock Pines has quickly become home. June started off with the CLM training in Chicago, where I got to meet Dean (co-intern) for the first time! We were able to explore the campus of the Chicago Botanic Garden, learn more about the Garden’s goals and how to be a botanist, and meet other interns from across the country! We explored while listening to the cicada’s roar in the forests, during an amazing hatch of the 17-year, 13-year, and brood XIX and XIII co-emerged. It was absolutely fantastic seeing the so many cicadas! Then, some of the interns went to Chicago for our celebratory night after the training! Great food, exploring a new city and amazing new friends made along the way!

Then I had a quick turnaround to move to Pollock Pines for the season! I packed up from Boise, Idaho and drove the quick 9 hours to Pollock Pines! I got to see Lake Tahoe for the first time in the daylight, and I was greeted at home with a gorgeous sunset. Now comes the challenging part, learning a completely new flora! Dean is from the area and is very knowledgeable, which is much appreciated! The Sierras are absolutely breathtaking, the exposed granite and some serious topography. Dean and I did a lot of onboarding while also trying to get into the field when we could!

Then, my friend Iris invited me on a camping trip to Loon Lake! She’s the crew lead for the North Zone botany team of the El Dorado. It was such a fun weekend meeting her crew as well as the wildlife crew! We went on a beautiful hike to Bassi Falls and spend a lot of time swimming. Such a great weekend!

Dean and I got to assist the pollinator team with rare plant pollinator networks. We went out with the Cal State East Bay pollinator team and learned how to do pollinator networks for Lewisia kellogii. I really enjoyed learning about pollinator networks and how plant conservation benefits by supporting pollinator communities.

Dean and I went out the next day and assisted the California Native Plant Society on mapping Lewisia kellogii hutchisonii (one of the rare plants on the El Dorado). We looked for flowering Lewisia, and then marked them. The Lewisia retracts back into the ground once pollinated to develop the seeds, which is why we needed to mark them for some seed collection! Working with the CNPS team was wonderful to see how professional careers develop in botanical sciences.

I’m looking forward to what comes next! The El Dorado is absolutely amazing!

Great start to the summer!

Greetings from Willamette National Forest


My name is Kaitlyn Skelton, a recent graduate from Stephen F. Austin State University in Texas, where I earned my degree in Agriculture with a concentration in Horticulture.

Recent Agriculture graduate Kaitlyn Skelton from Stephen F. Austin State University’s Arthur Temple College of Forestry & Agriculture, with experience in gardening and small-scale farming and a focus on regenerative practices.

This summer, I am working as a seasonal botany intern here in the beautiful and resilient landscapes of Oregon. Moving from the warm plains and rolling hills of Texas to the lush, albeit fire-scarred, expanses of the Willamette National Forest has been eye-opening. With a background in agriculture rather than forestry or environmental sciences, there is a definite learning curve. However, I believe that this background allows me to bring a fresh perspective to the field.

The cross-country drive to Oregon was spectacular, showcasing the incredible variety of the American landscape. However, the specific climate of the Pacific Northwest is distinct and strikingly different from any other region I have visited. The shift while driving into this area is burned into my memory. Towering trees envelop the highways and Detroit Lake, with its stunning vistas, is a sight to behold.

Mount Jefferson, the second highest peak in Oregon, standing at 10,495 feet

My new home is on a compound, allowing me to fulfill a long-held dream of walking to work. The view outside my apartment is stunning, making it hard to stay indoors for long. With no air conditioning, lounging outside in a hammock or lawn chair becomes not just a preference but an occasional necessity, anyway. The Detroit Ranger Station, where my office is, is only a short walk from Detroit Lake, and offers impressive views of the forest. From the lake, the impact of the 2020 wildfires is obvious, reminding us of the forest’s vulnerability and the importance of conservation efforts.

Double-decker hammocks that my co-intern and I set up behind our apartment

That’s great, but what are you actually working on out there?

As an intern with the Chicago Botanic Garden’s Conservation and Land Management (CLM) Program and the Seeds of Success program, I am focused on native seed collection. Collecting native seeds supports biodiversity and habitat restoration, crucial in combating climate change. By gathering wildland native seeds for research, driving developmental projects, conserving genetic germplasm, and supporting restoration initiatives, we preserve diverse plant communities. This enhances the resilience of ecosystems to environmental stresses, contributing to a healthier and more sustainable future. The hands-on experience and mentorship I receive make this work deeply rewarding and impactful.

Aquilegia formosa seeds, collected for restoration efforts, are essential for revitalizing native plant communities in the Willamette National Forest

The other half of my work involves collaborating with the US Forest Service to maintain and restore the Willamette National Forest. Spanning over a million acres, this forest is a treasure trove of old-growth trees, pristine lakes, and rugged mountains. However, the wildfires of 2020, including the devastating Lionshead and Beachie Creek Fires, scorched over 400,000 acres, leaving behind charred landscapes and disrupted ecosystems. Many days are spent clearing invasive species that threaten the delicate balance of the ecosystem and scouting native plant populations to ensure their survival and regrowth. With the seeds we are collecting, we can even reseed damaged areas, helping restore these vital habitats.

View of fire damage in the Willamette National Forest from Whitewater Trailhead, which is closed to the public due to unsafe conditions from the Lionshead Fire

Ongoing recovery efforts focus on restoration, habitat rebuilding, and fire prevention. While the scars of the wildfires are still visible, the forest’s resilience is evident as new growth emerges from the ashes.

Although I am only beginning this journey, I find it incredibly rewarding. The opportunity to work with a dedicated team and contribute to the restoration of Willamette National Forest fills me with gratitude and excitement. I look forward to deepening my connection with this remarkable ecosystem and community and playing a part in its recovery and preservation.

Kaitlyn Skelton

Pies! (cow) on the Prairie

Midewin is the sort of place where there are more cows than people. In fact, I went about 3 weeks without seeing a single tourist. (To quote my friend, I am nothing if not the anti-tourist). On the other hand, I saw cows there in my first week. Interestingly, Midewin earns some its own income rather than waiting for federal funding, so they lease out a lot of their land to ranchers and farmers. A large portion of the site consists of row crops (which are a precursor to restoration) and cattle pastures, which are also managed as grassland bird habitat. My first week, I got invited by the Wildlife crew to do bird surveys, which was exciting since I used to be a hardcore birder before I got into botany. While it required getting up very early (6am start), I saw a lot of cool grassland birds like bobolinks, dickcissels, grasshopper sparrows, Henslow’s sparrows, and even a blue grosbeak, among others.

Cows on the east side of Midewin.

People were saying that the restorations weren’t as good for birds as the cow pastures, and I noticed this too. I have a theory on why. People claim, and it seems to be true, that birds generally care more about the structure of the habitat rather than the species composition. They like large expanses of graminoids interspersed with shrubs and small trees. The cow pastures and old fields at Midewin mostly match this description, while the restorations mostly do not. Some people (well, specifically bird people) take this to mean that the birds “like” the old fields with their non-native cool season grasses more than restorations. I think it has to do with how the restorations are done, and that a non-native old field cannot compete with a bird habitat-oriented restoration using native plants. First of all, restorations tend to be very forb-heavy, with an emphasis on plant diversity rather than structure. I believe that historic prairies would have been more graminoid heavy than many of the restorations. Some people I’ve talked to get upset when their restorations are graminoid heavy, and even try deadheading native grasses to encourage more forbs. I believe that such an approach is counterproductive, by trying to artificially encourage a certain composition which may not be based in natural history. There needs to be diversity within diversity (as in, some species are supposed to be more abundant than others) – a completely uniform composition would yield the highest diversity, but that is clearly not natural. I believe that including more graminoids in seed mixes can create a more natural structure to prairie restorations, one which will be more hospitable to native grassland birds. This is just my conjecture, and I’d love to do some more reading on this topic.

Nest likely belonging to red-winged blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus).

We were also pulled in, in a rotating fashion, to Range and Wildlife’s brushcutting operations on the east side. When it was my turn to go, I was told I could use the brush saw, which I was really excited for because I’ve volunteered a lot with the Cook County Forest Preserves doing brush cutting using hand tools. It is a fun and rewarding activity, but it is long and arduous. Sometimes, we had people using brush saws with us, though I believe you have to go through a training to use it. But here I was, without any certification or experience, being offered to use this wondrous machine for the first time. I got some basic training from Cory, the Wildlife Biologist, and was let loose. I started cutting things and quickly became disappointed, because my saw would cut an inch into some wood and then would get stuck turning and not cutting anything; heating so much that the wood became blackened. I thought, this thing sucks. I’d rather be hacking away at it with a wood knife. Though I also kept worrying that I was doing something wrong. Then Cory said the saw might be dull and gave me a new one. Suddenly, life became a lot more exciting as I found I could cut through the brush like butter. I quickly got the hang of using the brush saw, and now I think I can never go back to hand cutting.

This post’s author, cutting brush with the brush saw.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming: seed collection. Us CLM interns have been engaged in all steps of the seed collection process, from scouting to cleaning. Most of what we’ve collected are sedges like the ones whose name I always confuse, the “three B’s” – Carex bicknelii, brevior, and bebbii. Others we have collected are gravida, annectens/vulpinoidea, comosa and hystericina, and the tussock sedges (stricta, emoreyi, and haydenii). Sedges are generally very nice to collect, being fairly tall and visible. They are also incredibly fun to identify and key out (thankfully, I have plenty of prior experience doing this). Some other things were not so fun to collect. Blue eyed grass (Sisyrinchium albidum), prairie violet (Viola pedatifida), and worst of all, yellow star grass (Hypoxis hirsuta). All of these plants, when in seed, are small, inconspicuous, and hidden by taller vegetation. Scouting and collecting them requires bending down to the ground and looking closely, resulting in slow progress. Hypoxis hirsuta is incredibly inconspicuous, meaning that the most practical way to locate it for collection is to flag every plant when they are flowering in May and then come back in late June to collect the seeds when they are ready. Unfortunately, we did not have such luxury and had to find these little needles in a haystack of grasses and sedges.

Yellow star grass (Hypoxis hirsuta) infructescence.
Carex emoreyi in seed.

End of a season

I found out at the beginning of this month that my internship was going to end a little sooner than I had originally planned on. I was supposed to stay here at Dorena until the end of March, but a new job offer shortened that timeline by a month. Now I sit here during my last week of work thinking of all the things I did and friends I made this winter.

I was lucky to not only be partnered with such an amazing mentor (s/o to Lee), but it turns out my co-intern ended up being my long lost twin. It became a joke at Dorena that wherever one of us was, the other wasn’t far behind. Whether it was during work or our personal time, I always knew that if I asked Brenn if she wanted a lil treat she would say yes and off we’d go. I could also always count on her for weekend adventures, whether it was a day at the beach, or going hiking no matter the weather, I knew Brenn would be down for anything.

Interns go to the beach!

Another major part of this internship for me was Teo, the grumpy nursery cat. I’ve talked about him in blogs before, but I love this cat. It has been so fun getting to know him (i.e. bothering him), and pretending like he loves me too. Recently, I’ve been trying to “train” him into letting me pick him up without scratching my eyes out. It’s going pretty well, but I don’t think anyone is willing to take this task up after I leave so Teo will forget what it’s like to be picked up.

Here is me holding Teo, he clearly loves it.

This last month has gone so fast, which is both good and bad. Good because I’m ready for the next adventure, but bad because I will miss the friends and co-workers I’ve made since being here. I’ll be working for USGS in Moab, Utah, so I’m very excited to get back to the desert and bask in the sun like the little lizard I am. One thing I have really loved about Oregon as a whole is the amount of rainbows I’ve seen since I’ve been here. They’re nice reminders that good things come out of rain, and the sun is just that much better after rain.

Dorena ft a HUGE rainbow.

Christmas Season at the Umpqua

December 2023

Hello dudes, hope everyone is doing well. This internship is flying by and refuses to slow down. This month has been a combination of cleaning seeds and a few other projects like propagation and transplanting. I have worked on Ratibida tagetes, Prunus virginiana, and Achillea millefolium this month, and man are these guys dusty. The propagation of POC and transplanting of Foxtail and Limber pines were exciting and different, which I love. As it grows colder here in Oregon, I have resorted to wearing as many layers as possible, the top number has been 4 jackets (quite cozy honestly but maybe I should buy a wearable sleeping bag at this point).

In my professional opinion, “podcast-studies” should be normalized, like instead of books it’s a podcast. Anyways, my podcast theme this month was murder mysteries with a sprinkle of conspiracy theories. Some favorite topics include the Black Sisters and the theory that Sun Tzu (the supposed author of The Art of War) never existed and is actually a collection of authors. Anywho, there is quite a variety of podcasts to listen to and I cannot wait to explore a few more.

This month has been packed full of festive cheer and incredible sights. I am trying to hike as much as possible, but it seems there are too many things to do in this short amount of time. I have seen some incredibly beautiful waterfalls this month, and I am in love with the forests of the PNW. I am really becoming a weekend warrior at this point, but my hiking boots were made for walking and that’s just what they’ll do. Our office Christmas party was a hit! The food was immaculate. The White Elephant gift exchange was hysterical. Wreath making was gorgeous. Dutch Blitz was riveting. The people were incredible. I think it was the best work Christmas party I have ever been to. In addition to having a blast at Dorena during the Christmas season, I also got to go home and see my family and pups for the holidays. There was telework involved, but researching plants barely counts as working in my opinion. I am quite a fan of learning about plants so it was kind of a holiday treat.

I also have a confession. I told myself I would not fall for it, but I in fact do think Dutch Bros is better than Starbucks. I have truly embraced the culture of the West. It is a hard realization to come to, but I am at peace with it. I am also now addicted to their dirty chai (it is a problem physically and financially). Thank you for understanding and acceptance everyone.

This month did not have any wild or crazy stories just the constant anticipation for the holidays, but the quiet excitement and giddiness around the office was unmatched. As the festive season winds down, the daunting time between January and April, which have minimal holidays, has begun. We will make it through this, but it is going to require a substantial amount of coffee, tea, and a few sweet little treats here and there. Good luck everyone and I will update y’all next month or should I say next year?!

(that joke hurt me too)

bye! 🙂

Stickers and Festivities

December is one of my favorite months of the year, and probably the only winter month I actually enjoy (I’m from the desert, snow and cold aren’t my things). The thing I enjoy most about December is Christmas, for the obvious reasons, but also because it means I get to see my family. There were two things that I didn’t expect to happen this December: one was our office has a holiday party, and the second was that I needed to put stickers on POC cells and it needed to happen fast. Obviously the first one is very exciting, but I wasn’t sure how exciting the second thing would be. Turns out, stickering is fun, satisfying, and pretty relaxing.

The Christmas party that happens at Dorena happens every year, there are even retired employees that come back for it every year, so it’s a big deal. I can’t speak to other years, but this years was so fun! There was so much yummy food, a white elephant gift exchange, paper snowflake making, Dorena trivia, wreath making, seconds on food, and just enjoying an afternoon of fun. Personally, aside from the food, the Dorena trivia was my favorite part of the afternoon. Everyone wrote their own questions about silly things found around Dorena, there were questions about books that have been on a bookshelf in the seed cleaning room for years, questions about Teo (Dorena’s resident cat), questions about posters in the bathrooms, and questions about a long time employees dog, just to name a few. I learned a lot during trivia, but the thing I learned that surprised me the most was that I’m really bad at making paper snowflakes.

Before the Christmas party could happen though, we still had a full week of work to get through. At our normal Monday morning meeting, we found out that all of the POC seedlings had been labeled wrong and that it was very important for us to get them relabeled correctly ASAP. I don’t know how they got labeled wrong, or how the POC biologist found out they were labeled wrong (that’s above my pay grade), but I did know that I was going to be a part of helping to correct the problem. I’m not going to lie, when I first heard about what we were doing, and how many stickers we had to apply to the cells, I was very worried that this was going to be a very long week and not very fun. I was wrong about both of those things.

The seedlings already had tags, so the POC biologist printed out stickers that we needed to apply to the existing tags. The stickers had to be applied in a specific way so they covered the incorrect information on the tags. The stickers were sorted into rolls based on which group of cells they needed to be applied to. Like I said, I was really worried that this was going to be a much less than ideal task, and boy was I wrong. It turns out, that stickering was very relaxing, satisfying, and honestly a bit meditative. Time flew while we were stickering, it took about an hour to do a full rack, and we were doing 3-4 racks a day. I don’t think I’ve ever had 3-4 hours of work go so fast or be so relaxing. It was honestly a great week leading up to the Christmas party, and a nice break from the constant seed cleaning.

Like I said, I knew the Christmas party would be a blast, but I was unsure of the hours of stickering I was going to have to do. That week was one of my favorite weeks here so far, and I’m hoping it only keeps getting better.

Our office Christmas tree.

Start of Something Incredible

Hello everyone! It is so cool to see all the incredible projects and places people are working in right now. My name is Brenn Kurtz, and I work with the Forest Service at Dorena Genetic Center in Oregon. So far, it has been an incredible experience! My position revolves around extracting and cleaning native seeds from different locations along the West Coast, which will be sent back and planted. The focus here is restoration work, and I love it. I feel like I am actually doing something. I have had numerous opportunities to learn other aspects of the nursery and other projects at Dorena. For example, the Port Orford Cedar (POC) conservation project is working to increase the species’ natural resistance to Phytophthora; thus, I have had the opportunity to help with cone collection and serial propagation efforts for this project. Additionally, I have had the opportunity to treat and sow germinating oaks for future nursery stock and dispersal. This position has allowed me to work with species I have not heard of and familiarize myself with the incredible species on the West Coast.

I am a big fan of fieldwork, and this job has the perfect balance of fieldwork and indoor work. I get to help maintain a nursery and research the plants. It is so sick. While cleaning seeds, it is a great time to listen to podcasts and music. I love a good murder mystery podcast or conspiracy theories podcast on a seed-filled rainy day. The other day, I was cleaning Ratibida tagetes and listening about how Antarctica may simply be the guarded entrance to the center of the earth (very scientific arguments obviously). There is never a lack of tasks to do, which I kinda enjoy. I am never bored here and there are always great people to talk to.

There have been so many firsts in this position. First time cleaning seed. First time seeing Oregon. The first time accidentally creating a geyser by tripping over the irrigation system. There have been so many firsts, and this position is truly a plant nerd’s dream (or definitely my dream at least). I get the opportunity to explore Oregon as part of my job. How sick is that! I have met so many incredible people, and I am stoked to see how the rest of this season goes.

Oh my goodness! I almost forgot, but I would also like to say we have an office cat. His name is Teo, and he loves to try and steal mashed potatoes. 🙂

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful day!

A Bright Day in a Sea of Change

The end of November means that I’m one month into this five-month internship, and wow has it gone by quickly. I moved to Oregon from Utah for this job, and it came with a lot of life changes, some I saw coming, but others I was unprepared for. I’ve spent this past month learning about Oregon, trying to do as many local things as I can, and of course trying to get as much out of this internship as possible.

My main job here is seed cleaning, but I am not alone in this objective. There is another CLM intern here who I sit and clean seed with for most of the day. We spend a lot of time chatting and getting to know each other (and the Forest Service employees we work with), but we also spend a lot of time listening to podcasts while getting lost in the seed.

Probably the most exciting day of this internship (so far) was the day we got to drive west of Portland to Viento State Park to deliver plants that our Forest Service unit has been growing for a revegetation project in Viento. The day started out cloudy and foggy (as Oregon winter days are apt to do), but by the time we reached the outskirts of Portland, the sun had come out and we were able to see stunning views of Mt. Hood and Mt. St. Helens. It was my first time seeing these volcanic mountains, but it certainly wouldn’t be the last. Eventually we started driving though the Columbia River Gorge, which was absolutely stunning: the fall foliage was in full swing, the waterfalls were pouring, the Columbia River was flowing, and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.

Once we arrived at Viento, the job was fairly simple. We unloaded the plants and sorted them by species so that when the state park employees planted them later, they would know which plants went where. After about a half hour of unloading, we started the drive back to Dorena. On the way back however, we decided that an extra stop was necessary so my co-intern and I could get more acquainted with the local area. We stopped at Multnomah Falls for lunch and enjoyed not just the spectacular views, but watching a Search and Rescue training as well. After taking in the views we started our drive back to Dorena for the second time.

After we passed Portland, the clouds started to move in again, and before we got to Eugene, it was raining again. Another 30 minutes to Dorena, and you would have never known that just a couple hours earlier we were enjoying the sunshine while unloading plants and looking at waterfalls.

There have been a lot of good days in my first month at Dorena, but this was the most memorable. Change is inevitable, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad, you just have to embrace it and know nothing lasts forever. I’m excited to see where my time at Dorena takes me, and I’m excited for all the things I’m going to learn.