What a process it’s been getting here! As the only Canadian intern this year, my first task was getting across the border. I flew from Halifax to Edmonton, bought a car, then drove down towards Montana, stopping in Calgary and Swift Current to visit friends. When I got to the border crossing last week, I was told I didn’t have all the documentation they wanted, but aside from that, the border guard didn’t even think the visa I was applying for was the right one! So back I went to Swift Current. I was very worried that I would be unable to even begin my internship. After many phone calls to the CBG, my university, and various embassies and consulates I decided to apply for the same visa again, this time at a different border crossing with every document I thought they might want. And thank God, this time they let me through and I arrived in Glasgow, MT last night. Since I’ve only had one morning of work, I don’t have much to say, but everyone in the office seems very friendly and I’m very excited about the next five months.
As I reflect on my five months at the BLM office in Glasgow, Montana, a few main themes come to mind. The first is just how many amazing things I’ve been able to do. I’ve been involved in a variety of projects at work that have enhanced and increased my biology tool kit in a safe, open environment with very knowledgeable people. One of my favourite projects was helping out at the UL Bend Black-footed Ferret Recovery camp. BFFs are the most endangered mammal in NA and this is just one of many sites where they have been reintroduced. I helped trap ferrets and administer booster shots for the plague and canine distemper. All the trapping was done at night, and while it was tiring, sometimes monotonous work, to be able to help the recovery of such a sensitive species was a real joy. As an added bonus, the ferrets are very adorable!
Working at the BLM office also allowed me to interact with seasoned employees in other fields who were more than willing to answer my questions and take me out to see what they do. I was able to go to an archeological dig, help pull out salt cedar saplings from around a reservoir, do the rounds with our ranger, and stake the site for a new reservoir. Being Canadian, it was interesting to discover the various functions and goals of an American agency.
Working as a CLM intern allowed me to intimately experience another culture and landscape. Northeast Montana is unlike anywhere I’ve lived before and it was a lot of fun to immerse myself in the cowboy/small town culture. I met many wonderful people, including my landlady who in essence became my “Montana Mom”.
From the highway you get a sense of what NE Montana is like, but it was by driving all those back roads and hiking across the untouched prairie that the real magic and beauty was revealed. I’m very thankful I had the opportunity to be a CLM intern and for all the special memories I’ve gathered!
I have been in Glasgow, MT for two months now, and they have just flown by. My co-workers are a great group of people, which is good since we spend hours driving out to field sites and working side by side. So far our main projects have been mountain plover surveys, grassland bird surveys, and habitat assessments. Although I have prior birding experience, plants have never been on my radar. I was very surprised how quickly I was able to learn the different plants, and how I have already latched on to a few favorites (pussytoes and scarlet globemallow, anyone?) It has been so amazing to be out on the endless prairie, sighting antelope, deer, badgers, snakes, foxes, coyotes, and many different birds, including the beautiful golden eagle. Although I grew up in Edmonton and so have a soft spot for the prairies already, I’ve never been so immersed in it.
Aside from the field work, I’ve loved experiencing the cowboy culture here. I’ve been to my first rodeo, my first mud bog, my first barn dance, met my first real life cowboys, and listened to hours and hours of country music. I’ve loved being able to travel around a bit and see more of the vast state of Montana. I want to take everything I can from this experience of living and working in a different country (even though Canada is only about an hour from me).
BLM Field Office, Glasgow, MT