“You gotta drive 50 miles to go 5. Welcome to Wyoming”

Quote from the movie “Wind River” based on events that happened in the Wind River Indian Reservation, about 2 hours west of Casper. And one of the most true statements about Wyoming.

My experience out here has been nothing short of an adventure. I have been luck enough to travel around most of the state of Wyoming and Colorado, for work and for fun, during my internship. With only a week left of my internship, I have been reflecting on the amazing times I’ve had out here.

Some of the most memorable experiences I’ve had are driving around the wilderness during rangeland health assessments and cheatgrass monitoring, raptor surveys, Ute ladies’-tresses surveys, working with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD) doing pronghorn antelope surveys in Casper and black-footed ferret trapping in Meeteetse, going bird banding with Audubon Rockies, exploring and mapping subalpine forests with foresters in the Casper Field Office, and getting my Wilderness First Responder Certification in Steamboat Springs, Colorado for my CLM internship alternative training workshop.

Beautiful arches found during cheatgrass monitoring on the Burke allotment

Black-footed ferret in a trap in Meeteetse, Wyoming

The black-footed ferret is a highly endangered species that was considered to be extinct until it was rediscovered in Meeteetse, WY in 1981. I was lucky enough to participate in these intense overnight surveys in the Meeteetse reintroduction site with WGFD in September as a part of my internship. If you work for the BLM, check out the article I wrote about my experience that I submitted to the BLM Daily!

Me holding a Bullock’s Oriole that was banded with Audubon Rockies at Edness K. Wilkins State Park

Finding creative ways to unroll the flagging tape while flagging boundaries for a juniper removal project

Old abandoned car found at Lost Creek. Possibly a new method to successfully growing Sagebrush?!

Beautiful, peaceful quaking aspen stand with a stream running through it at the Snowshoe Creek allotment rangeland health assessments.

A wild Bison and a wildlife intern. Taken on my weekend trip to Yellowstone National Park.

The places I’ve been and the things I’ve seen have been absolutely amazing. I have learned so much about wildlife ecology, land management, and the reality of conservation in the federal government. My last few weeks in the Casper Field Office will be spent writing end of the year summary reports of our findings in the field, which is even more important for making management decisions by interpreting the data I collected all summer. I’m grateful for all the time I was able to spend in the field and for all the technical writing experience I am able to take with me in my professional career.

Special thanks to my mentors Jim Wright and Ben Bigalke for teaching and challenging me everyday. You have both taught me so much and helped me realize why I want to become a wildlife biologist. I hope I find awesome co-workers like the ones in the Casper Field Office in my future career.

Jessica Druze, Wildlife Technician, Bureau of Land Management High Plains District, Casper Field Office

The Wild West

June 2018

It’s my third week as a Wildlife Intern in the Casper Field Office and I am loving it so far. Being in the mountains is such a nice change from New Jersey. Although the landscape here is mostly grassland, there are still so many mountainous landscapes nearby. Every day I think to myself, “I can’t believe I get paid to do this.”

During my first week, I learned about each of the divisions within the resources department here at the Casper Field Office including Wildlife, Archeology, Range, Hydrology, and Forestry. I learned how to ride a UTV, which was a lot of fun! We also trained on our first big project of the summer, Range Health Assessments. During these assessments, the wildlife, range and hydrology crew all go out together to assess the ecological health of different plots of BLM land all over Wyoming to collect data used in making future land management decisions. I learned about a lot of new plant and animal species and I’m excited to keep learning more.


An American Badger hunting in a Prairie Dog colony.

Bitterroot flower, one of the many beautiful plants seen during Range Health Assessments

Sego Lily

My second week of work was a full week of Range Health Assessments. The crew and I have a lot of fun driving all over Natrona and Converse Counties while getting work done.

Wildlife, Range and Hydrology crew during Rangeland Health Assessments!

Wildlife Biologist, Jim Wright, and I during rangeland health assessments

My role includes working with the wildlife biologists in the office to evaluate the wildlife habitat, specifically for greater sage-grouse. We use transects to examine the diversity and health of sagebrush shrubs as well as overall vegetation cover to assess the habitat. We are always looking for signs of wildlife in the area, and I have seen a couple of female sage grouse with their chicks so far! The wildlife here is so different from New Jersey and I am really enjoying working with wildlife biologists to learn as much as I can about it.

During week 3, there was a lot of rain which made it difficult driving on the two-track roads to get to our destination. A few days were spent turning around after failed attempts to get the truck past the mud on the roads. In addition to the normal range health days, I got to scout a plot of BLM land that is being overtaken by Pinyon Juniper in the sagebrush ecosystem. We used the GPS to navigate around the land and mark off boundaries for a contractor to come in to take out most of the Pinyon Juniper.

I am so grateful that CBG is able to provide me this amazing opportunity. I am looking forward to the experiences I will have out here, at work and in my free time. So far, it has been life-changing.

Snowshoe Creek allotment