Greetings once again from the North Carolina Botanical Garden! As autumn has progressed, we have been hard at work collecting more seeds of native Mid-Atlantic Coastal Plain species. In mid-October, my coworker and I far surpassed our personal record by making 37 seed collections during an 8-day trip! With November marching on, the frosty early mornings are making me grateful that our SOS work is winding down.
Six months have come and nearly gone, and the SOS crew here at the North Carolina Botanical Garden find ourselves at the end of our internship season. I could say that I can’t believe so much time has passed, but that’s not totally true. After so many months of pretty much constant travel, I am feeling the need to settle down and be in one place for a while. That’s not to say that I regret the work, though! At this point, the crew has surpassed our goal of 200 collections for the year. I feel a solid sense of accomplishment about all these collections being banked by the Seeds of Success program. This means that I have personally contributed to building a national seed bank to protect the genetic legacy of many native North-American plants. According to the BLM website (BLM.gov), “[t]he long-term conservation outcome of the SOS program is to support BLM’s Native Plant Materials Development Program, whose mission is to increase the quality and quantity of native plant materials available for restoring and supporting resilient ecosystems.” I know that not everyone in this line of work really thinks about the bigger picture of why we are doing what we do. I also know that I may be in the nerd-tastic minority, but I spend a lot of time thinking not only about issues of genetics and statistics that drive our technical protocol, but about how our project connects to the wider scene of conservation biology/ecology and land management in today’s society. Suffice it to say that having the opportunity to do my own small part in building a big old germplasm library makes me feel that I’m working toward something very positive! That same seed bank, and the ideas that helped form it, may help our culture move into the uncertain future of climate change, shifting land-use patterns, and ever-changing human population with more grace and adaptability than would otherwise have been possible. Ok that’s enough of me waxing philosophical. Here are some cool photos from our last few weeks of work:
For the last two weeks of our internship, my coworkers and I will tie up loose ends, such as re-naming photo files, double checking data sheets, and packaging and shipping our last collections and voucher specimens. Most of us look forward to beginning the second year of this project next spring. I hope everyone else had an enlightening and fulfilling field season. Until next year, happy hibernation!