I apologize for the title, but when you primarily work in grazing compliance for six months the puns just start flowing. My personal favorite was finding sneaky cows at a water trough and saying “well, well, well…,” (my poor field partner).
It has been an awesome season working for the BLM in the Lander, Wyoming field office. While reflecting on my time here I recalled first driving through Wyoming and noticing, a little nervously, how flat and tree-less it was compared to the forested Pacific Northwest. Now, having been able to spend hundreds of hours driving to every corner of the field office that distant concern seems silly. This state has provided the ability to see some of the most picturesque landscapes (blue skies and snow capped mountains), kooky and majestic wildlife (think badgers flinging soil feet into the air and hundreds of wild horses running through a valley), and land that has been untamed. I am going to miss the chance at experiencing something new in the field every day but I am thankful that this internship has provided me with even more of a perspective focused on the “little things.”
Being in the field for much of the season was another great chance to prove to myself how much I love working in the outdoors. I’ve realized over the past six months that whatever career I move towards, it needs to be one that incorporates hands-on field work and the ability to get outside and get a little muddy. That being said, I was also able to learn a great deal about the inner workings, policies, and politics of the BLM and worked on everything from administrative tasks to NEPA documents, which was an equally valuable experience.
This internship has provided a comprehensive overview of what it is like to work for a federal agency. Before working with the BLM I had little to no idea how public grazing worked, the extent of the role that the BLM plays in managing our lands, or what challenges surround multi-use management. My views have definitely changed this season, going from more strict, conservation based ideals, to understanding that sustainable management means utilizing resources for multiple purposes. I think that this position has helped me to gain a more realistic perspective on how to apply natural resource management principles to satisfy the major aspects of sustainability.
I am thankful for all of the things I have gained through this internship, including a tan that is already fading, friends I will have for years to come, and great insight into what my goals are for a future in environmental work. It is bittersweet to say goodbye to one chapter but I am excited to see what the next one will bring.