It is hard to believe that this is my last blog for my internship here in Buffalo, Wyoming. The time really has flown by, and I certainly have lots to reflect on- so here come’s a long post!….
Overall, I found seed collecting to be very challenging personally. From abundant rains early on in the season to insect damage, plants proved to be a very unpredictable realm for me! I would be lying if I said that it was completely enjoyable, but I did learn a lot about the type of work and the work environment I enjoy, and for that I am very grateful.
That being said, this internship has taught me a lot about my limits and the type of work I enjoy to do. I was exposed to a lot of new topics, work environments and culture. For example, coming from Chicago, experiencing the ranching and small-town culture of Wyoming was very foreign to me. This definitely made the experience challenging because I not only had to learn how to perform a seed collection on my own, but also get acquainted with the culture of my office and the small-town community that I was living in.
Aside from all of this, I also feel that I benefitted a lot from this experience. I tend to be attracted to challenges, because they give me a lot of insight into my own interests, life outlooks and professional goals. Although I am not necessarily interested in pursuing the botany route further, I definitely gained a lot of valuable knowledge about conservation and land management through this opportunity, and insight into what it means to work within a federal agency. I am definitely interested in exploring work in other environmental agencies as a result of this experience.
There were also a lot of new skills that I can say I’ve gained through this internship. Everything from learning how to drive 4WD vehicles on dilapidated roads, learning how to identify western plants in the field, improving my communication skills with the public and professionals at my office, gaining familiarity with the policies and administrative work involved in range land health, and getting real-world experience with ArcGIS throughout the various office projects I performed.
I feel that the most rewarding experiences I had at this office was getting the opportunity to interact with the public and see that side of a federal land management agency. I really enjoyed the field days where I ran into landowners, because I was able to speak with them about what I was doing and why I was collecting a species, while also learning about their insights of conservation strategies and land use. I found these conversations to be the most rewarding, and they definitely encouraged my own interests in the human dimensions of conservation and environmental management.
For the most part, I did not know what to expect for this internship. As I mentioned earlier, moving to Wyoming and organizing seed collections was definitely a change of pace for me and certainly challenging, which is one thing I did expect it to be. However, I assumed that I would learn what I would need to as soon as I got out here and began training, and that I would be able to rely on my office to help me with the process along the way. Unfortunately this is not exactly what happened, as for most of the summer interns were displaced from the main office due to flood damage, and we didn’t have as much guidance from our mentors as we had expected. Because of this though, I was able to really develop a team with my fellow interns, as we relied on each other for support in and outside of the office. That being said, at the end of the day I can’t say that I regret this experience, and I would certainly be interested in pursuing another internship with a federal agency in the future.
-Katie, BLM Buffalo Field Office