Final Weeks

Wyoming. It’s a state I can honestly say I never had any intention of visiting. I knew nearly nothing about it until I moved to Buffalo in May. It sounded exotic to me. The environment, culture and language felt foreign upon my arrival here from the northeast. In many ways they still do, yet I’ve somehow managed to finally feel at home.

With only a few weeks of my internship remaining, I’ve been trying to get as much done as possible for the Buffalo Field Office (BFO) before a new set of interns come in May. Most of the remaining work to do involves georeferencing aerial images from the 1970s. The work is tedious, but I like to think it will help somebody at the BLM in the future who might not have the time to do it themselves. There has been no shortage of coworkers offering to take me out to their field sites. The wildlife biologists even managed to take myself and another CLM intern to The Wildlife Society – Wyoming Chapter conference in Jackson last week where researchers from across Wyoming presented on their findings on all sorts of study organisms, ranging from pollinators to mule deer. Of course, we also made sure there was time for site-seeing:

Moose siting along Route 16 as we drove through the Bighorn Mountains on our way to Jackson, Wyoming.

The Tetons greeted us as we entered Jackson after our long truck-ride from Buffalo.

Dream home beneath the Tetons.

Bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis) gathered around to lick the minerals off of our truck. Their historic range spans the American West, but sadly today their range hardly compares.

As much as I love botany, it’s hard to not immediately fall in love with wildlife.

My last bighorn sheep picture. I promise.

I still can’t believe I get paid for this. A summer of backpacking and vegetation monitoring, the opportunity to further develop GIS skills and understand the inner-workings of a federal agency, learning to interact with stakeholders and landowners (and even coworkers) with worldviews vastly different than mine. This internship has allowed me to gain and develop a skill set more elaborate and wide-ranging than I could have imagined. I’m hopeful that, eventually, I will find a full-time permanent position someplace that I will love as much as I’ve enjoyed this internship. Not to say it hasn’t been difficult at times (particularly the office days…those can be tough), but the hardships are what have made the experience rewarding.

I’ve begun the countdown to the end of my internship. I will work through the beginning of January, and then afterward head west to California where I have another seasonal position, this time with a private company. I am certain that my experiences with CLM will translate across state boundaries as I immerse myself in an entirely new ecosystem with countless new flora and fauna to identify. I’ll probably have one more blog post or so before I leave my internship, but to anyone out there reading this and considering accepting an internship with CLM: it has been an invaluable experience for me, it has embellished my resume, and I have met too many wonderful people during my time in Wyoming than I can list. Seriously consider taking it.

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