The end of the JTGP era (at least for the four of us)

Hello! Michele here checking in for her final CLM blog for the Joshua Tree Genome Project (JTGP) from the City that Built the Hoover Dam. 

Interning at the USGS Western Ecological Research Center has been a blessing. The past month has been a crucial time spent entering, organizing, and cleaning up the data we have collected over the past 6 months. We’ve been chipping away at this during the entire internship, but since we are all off to other adventures at the end of the week, we need to create a master spreadsheet for every Joshua Tree we have data attached to, along with explanations of our processes and organization. Let’s just say, I think all of our excel skills went from lowly merchant level, up to lord status. Note, I did not promote us to kings and queens because we still have yet to master pivot tables.

Seeing how the project progresses in the future, after we are gone, will be exciting to catch-up on later during our conservation careers.

This internship has taught me the trial and error that goes along with ecological research, and I am grateful to learn how to tackle and overcome these hurdles. Life in the desert has been all about adapting. Adapting to living in extreme heat, adapting to life with 3 other interns that I will be forever grateful for, adapting to a new position as a CLM intern, and adapting to the plot-twists that our Joshua Tree seedlings threw at us. All in all I wouldn’t change a thing.

Thank you Mojave desert, thank you JTGP.

Happy and adventurous trails,


A lovely send-off picture of myself and a Joshua Tree that is only a little bit larger than our seedlings (please reference past blogs for size of Joshua Tree seedlings. Hint: they are small).


Our time in Shoshone has come to a close, although luckily for both Alexi and I, our time in Idaho isn’t quite finished yet. After this week Alexi will be headed west to Boise and I will be heading north to Ketchum for a little bit. I think it’s safe to say that over the last five months we have both fallen in love with this unique and hidden gem of a state. Getting to know the species of the sagebrush steppe and all the idiosyncrasies of the the high desert has been a lot of fun. Working for the BLM Shoshone Field Office has been a great learning experience. Not only did we get to do a lot of botany-intensive projects such as nested frequency and seed collecting, but we also got to learn more about different methods of surveying bats and got to do a bit of GIS. I really appreciated our mentor’s effort to ensure we had a varied and interesting internship. I always felt like I was doing something that was useful to the office and that was important to conservation, which is essential in a field job like this.

My first impressions of Idaho have drastically changed over the last few months. When I first heard I was moving to Shoshone, I immediately looked it up on Google Earth and did a street view tour of the place (not a good idea!). The town of Shoshone isn’t exactly the most exciting town there ever was, but it is close to the beautiful mountains up north and I am so thankful I had the opportunity to live here. I will not miss the trains that come through town blaring their horns at ungodly hours of the night, the (still) mysterious siren that goes off every night at 10pm, or the crazy cat man neighbor yelling at his yowling cats at night. But I will miss our neighbors who made us feel welcome and the wonderful people in our BLM office. I would definitely recommend working in the Shoshone BLM Office to future CLM interns- especially if you enjoy hiking rocky peaks, fishing and swimming in alpine lakes, finding hidden hot springs, exploring lava caves and seeing incredible amounts of wildlife. All of this is at your fingertips if you live in Shoshone.

Overlooking my Idahome on top of Hyndman Peak outside of Ketchum, Idaho

Overlooking my Idahome on top of Hyndman Peak outside of Ketchum, Idaho

The sheer drop off on the other side of Hyndman Peak

The sheer drop off on the other side of Hyndman Peak

Fly fishing on the Big Lost River at dusk

Fly fishing on the Big Lost River at dusk

My next job will be in Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks (SEKI) conducting winter cave surveys for bats. I start in November, so in the meantime I’ll be staying with a friend up in Ketchum, Idaho and working for a landscaping company to make a little extra money. I’m excited because there’s still many peaks I want to climb, rivers I want to fish, and trails I want to bike and run before I leave Idaho.

A raised relief map of my next home, Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks

A raised relief map of my next home, Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks (SEKI). Found this at an antique fair in Ketchum, ID for $10!

Thanks for this awesome experience CLM and BLM. Come visit me in Ketchum or SEKI if you get the chance! And of course I shall leave y’all with a final E. Abbey quote:

“May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.” -Edward Abbey

Until next time,

Avery Shawler

Shoshone BLM Office