This is the end

Today is my last day in the Carson City, NV BLM field office.  I have been working here since February, so it’s odd to think that I won’t be doing this anymore.  Over these past few months, I have had a lot of new experiences that I would never have expected before.  I have been to places far from my home and met so many new people.  Before taking this job, I had never even been camping!

Although there were a lot of positive experiences during this internship, there were also a lot of difficult times.  Whether in the field or in the office, there was always work to be done (and never quite enough time to do it all), but that is the nature of working for a multi-use agency.

I can honestly say that I don’t think I would have lasted too long at this job if it hadn’t been for the rest of my intern team.  I always enjoyed working with them, and their moral support made the hard days less difficult for me.  We had so many wonderful experiences together, and they will always be an important part of my life.

Most of the 2013 CCDO intern team at Moon Rocks in Nevada

Most of the 2013 CCDO intern team at Moon Rocks in Nevada (18 July 2013)

One thing I have learned from this internship is that I would like to be involved with scientific research in my future career. Perhaps I won’t end up working in natural resources at all.  Having said that, I’m glad I did it.

Stefanie Ferrazzano
Botany Intern
Carson City, NV BLM

An End in the West.


16,883 – total miles driven, the equivalent of driving the entire stretch of Interstate 10 (from Santa Monica, CA to Jacksonville, FL) almost 7 times

0 – number of cows hit with our government rig (and there were a few close calls)

40 – number of seed collections collected! We saved the worst for last – Cylindropuntia leptocaulis (Desert Christmas Cactus) – where every fruit was covered with hundreds of tiny glochids (prickles) and every branch was covered with hundreds of four-inch spiny terror barbs.

56 – miles walked in the Dripping Springs Natural Area trails during my bi-monthly trail monitoring. I have a tough life, let me tell you.

2 – forgotten lunches on travel days that resulted in my upending of rural gas stations looking for anything that wasn’t a candy bar or a savory meat by-product

1- fantastic Indiana Jones-esque hat purchased in Santa Fe. Nothing beats having a rakish, cool look while on your hands and knees crawling under creosote bushes.

1- sweet gig acquired working as a Food Security Coordinator at the Sacramento Food Bank for Americorps! Hooray!

Thanks to Mike Howard, a super cool mentor and great State Botanist, and Krissa and Wes at the Chicago Botanic Garden for making the whole internship process so easy and streamlined and relaxed!  This internship has been a once-in-a-lifetime experience and has helped me tremendously to narrow my future career goals and aspirations.

New Mexico, as I’ve already known, is a unique, beautiful place. You just can’t top the endless vistas, solitude, craggy mountain ranges, diversity of plant life, and quality of the people.

I’ll end with two quotes by my favorite author Ed Abbey, a devoted lover and protector of the desert.  He wrote, “May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.”

And one of my all-time favorites from Desert Solitaire:

“The fire. The odor of burning juniper is the sweetest fragrance on the face of the earth, in my honest judgment; I doubt if all the smoking censers of Dante’s paradise could equal it. One breath of juniper smoke, like the perfume of sagebrush after rain, evokes in magical catalysis, like certain music, the space and light and clarity and piercing strangeness of the American West. Long may it burn.”


Sagebrush in Provo

Hello everyone, it is my turn to share what I am doing for my CLM internship in Provo Utah at the USDA Shrub Science Lab. My current project is focused on the development of tools to help in the differentiation of species and subspecies of Sagebrush. We are using applied techniques that include chemical ecology, molecular biology, and field monitoring of Sagebrush.

Since I started working in the lab, I have had many opportunities to explore the Wasatch area of Central Utah. One of the things that I am enjoying most about my assignment is the field monitoring of populations of Sagebrush. For the last two months we have registered phenology of Sagebrush and it has been very interesting to see and learn the differences between species.

This month I experienced seed sample collection in the snow, which was something that I really liked. It is very interesting to me to be able to learn all the new techniques, especially the use of applied tools on field and lab.

Personally I am really enjoying my job and my team. They are supporting me on my experiments, and I am learning many things.

I hope you all have a good holiday

Hector Ortiz

USDA Shrub Science Lab Provo, UT