Hello again from Washington, DC!
Life in the capitol city is still excitingly busy. It’s the middle of March and the BLM’s Washington Office Plant Conservation team and I have already hosted two meetings this month: an interagency meeting to discuss implementation of the National Seed Strategy and a Plant Conservation Alliance meeting. We will be traveling to Pittsburgh for a conference next week (more on that to come).
The interagency meeting on implementing the National Seed Strategy was the first week of March. Planning and organizing for it began in November. It was a big deal. A couple words I heard used to describe this interagency meeting included monumental and historical. Although I haven’t been in DC long, I quickly learned that an event in which leadership from many different Federal agencies are at one table at one time to discuss working together on a common goal is not something that happens every day. While Plant Conservation Alliance meetings often have representatives from 8 or more federal agencies, the interagency meeting on implementing the National Seed Strategy had a higher level of government leadership in attendance.
Helping to organize and attending the interagency meeting was an eye opening experience. I felt both discouraged and inspired. Together these federal agencies manage huge amounts of land. But, each agency has its own mission it must follow, its own programs and policies. Additionally, many of these agencies are underfunded, especially when it comes to plant conservation. These barriers aside, the opportunity to work together in a coordinated effort and restore the health of the plant communities and the functioning of ecosystems across our country has presented itself in a real way that could be hugely successful. This is what inspires me.
Working in Washington DC has exposed me to high level land management policy and introduced me to many people in charge of land management programs. More importantly though, it has shown me my voice. Working in an office, I spend the bulk of my time communicating. Avoiding phone conversations is no longer an option (email is far less effective with flooded inboxes and buried messages). It might seem silly to say that talking on the phone has increased my confidence, but it is true. The more I use my voice, the more confident I become. Everything becomes easier with practice, and talking on the phone is a daily exercise in being heard.
My posts are lacking in pretty flower pictures, I know. Spring is on its way and I hope to photograph the cherry blossoms like a good flower-loving tourist in the coming weeks.
Till next time,
Reporting from the Bureau of Land Management’s Washington Office in DC.