Having spent a full year working for the Seeds of Success (SOS) program in southern California, there are so many things I could write about in my final blog posting. However, I feel that the following four paragraphs, and their four corresponding points, are what I most want to pass on to successive CLM interns, along with best wishes for their internships and the future.
This internship year has been one of personal growth and many new experiences. Moving to California (from Connecticut) for a new job was a big step for me. The first few months were rough. Beyond my personal adjustments, I was part of the first SOS team to be stationed at RSABG (Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden) and we were learning the ropes as we worked. It was stressful but, with practice and creativity, we created a smooth
seed-collecting process and, looking back on how we adapted and grew as a team, I feel proud of our work and what we were able to accomplish. With the arrival of a new set of SOS interns, I believe that the groundwork we established will promote a more coherent field season including more area covered and a greater number of species collected. Plus, our strengthened connection to the RSABG and its ever helpful and knowledgeable staff will continue to be a greatly appreciated and utilized tool for future improvement.
At a personal level, RSABG facilities and staff helped me gain valuable seed processing and herbarium skills to accompany what I was learning through SOS. Using seed material, I cleaned and prepped seed for storage and learned about some of the basics of germination trials. Using voucher material, I learned to create labels, mount and then file plant vouchers within our herbarium system. Experiencing what happens to plant material after it is brought in from the field created a positive feedback loop between my field work and my office work. What I did and learned in one area would impact and improve what I did in the other, allowing me to make better decisions in both areas and produce higher quality work.
However, the fact that I gained these skills and more informed viewpoint was serendipitous. In southern California, fieldwork begins in late March/ early April and can continue until early January. With a full, field-focused work schedule, I didn’t begin to
look for other skill-acquisition opportunities until January. That was when I really gained a grasp on herbarium and seed storage work and it was at a point when my internship should have already been over for some months. Thinking back on this, I sincerely recommend that each CLM intern spend some time at the start of their internship really thinking about they want to gain out of their five months and then see how their unique job situation can support these goals. The flexibility of this internship is a perfect opportunity to expand your knowledge and skill set but you have to seek out the opportunities and make the time to take advantage of them.
Finally, as a parting note, I really want to thank Krissa Skogen and Marian Hofherr for all their hard work. They were a continuous source of help and support. Try to get to know them if you can; they are really wonderful women.