The past month has been a whirlwind of maneuvering through airports, packing and unpacking duffle bags, and riding in cars. The week of June 8-12 was our CLM training workshop at the Chicago Botanic Gardens. My fellow interns and I spent the weekend beforehand exploring Boise, ID (we tried Basque food!) before flying out to Chicago. Once at the Gardens, we were treated to a week of nonstop learning. We had lectures on conservation genetics and graduate school options, as well as crash courses in botany of the west and monitoring/inventory methods. Best of all, we got to go to a symposium and listen to presentations on large-scale ecosystem restoration efforts.
Aside from the useful tips we received for success in the field, what I took away from the workshop was a reaffirmed love for learning and research, and a confirmed desire to further my education by pursuing a PhD. I stayed in the city through the weekend with my boyfriend to check out the Field Museum (free admission with my employee ID!), the University of Chicago, and Chinatown.
After being back in good ol’ Burns for just three days, Megan (my roommate/co-intern) and I were off to Bend, OR for a two-day grass identification workshop. Although that might sound about as exciting as watching paint dry, it was actually extremely useful. The first day was spent learning grass morphology and picking apart the seed heads under a dissecting microscope. By the second day, we were fairly proficient in keying out grass species, and we got to apply our newly acquired knowledge in the field. I now feel much more confident in my ability to ID grasses, which will be very helpful when doing trend sites. Megan and I stayed in town for the weekend and enjoyed live music along the river, the Bite of Bend, and camping/hiking in Ochoco National Forest.
The day after we returned from Bend we drove two hours to Fields, OR, a town with a population of 8 (yes, 8, that’s not a typo). We spent two days zipping around on a UTV to some of our more southern trend sites, which was a blast. The surrounding area was breathtaking – snowcapped mountains, a lake, and an expansive desert were all within sight. We spent the night at a field station which is affectionately referred to as “the Hilton” because it has air conditioning and a TV. Now that’s luxury.
Now that I’m back in Burns, I’m recalling some words I saw on the wall of the Tourist Information Center in Bend: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” Thinking back on the last month, it’s hard not to smile with appreciation for the experiences I’ve had, and the hope that I am truly making the most of this one life.