So, I have a funny story to share. This past spring I was having an argument with my best friend about where to go backpacking for spring break. She wanted to go back to the Smokey Mountains because we had been previously but didn’t really get to see much of them. I, on the other hand, wanted to come to Arkansas. We went back and forth for a couple weeks researching different trails and trying to come up with ways to convince each other, and, well ultimately she won (but by that point it felt like a mutual decision). We went to the Smokey’s and had honestly an amazing backpacking trip. However, I still wanted to see Arkansas because, I guess I had just heard great things.
Lo-and-behold, only about a month later I found out that I had gotten a job in Arkansas! If we are going to talk about reality creation….anyways….I figured I would share some pictures of Arkansas and inform everyone that I have been enjoying this state, despite the rocky start at trying to make my way here.
……As for what Arkansas and this internship has been like since I’ve been here…..
This truly is the natural state and I have become acquainted with much of it. Through my process of driving around trying to find milkweed, to doing plant collections in natural areas, to just general exploration on my own, I would say I am getting a lay of the land. I do think I must have brought the rain from New Orleans because everyone in my office tells me this is one of the wettest years in a while. That just goes to show that global weirding is hitting Arkansas. What is global weirding you ask? Well I’m glad you asked! I went to a lecture a couple months back where the speaker told us that they got better responses when they called it global weirding rather than global warming. I think this is because everyone who pays attention to the weather—which according to the ‘small talk trope’ is everyone—understands that the weather isn’t completely normal, and isn’t going back to whatever normal was in the first place.
The thing about this internship is that wherever you are, and I’m sure other interns can attest to this, you are going to meet people who work in your office (and in town) who have opinions that you don’t share–such as whether climate change is real *eye roll*. This is especially true if you are moving somewhere you didn’t grow up, but it can be the case regardless!
I’m not going to advise anyone to tread lightly necessarily, but take the time to understand the people around you who have opposing views. How else are you going to have a full experience with the forest service/BLM? Talk to the locals! Maybe you’ll scare people off by using the word evolution (I made that mistake in the first week…), but this is your chance to broaden your horizons. And again, I’m not promoting conflict, but take the time to ask people why they believe the things they do and you will get a better idea of how decisions may be made in your office, organizations your office works with, and the local government (which most definitely effects your office).
I’m not entirely sure how I got on that tangent…but the point is that I have grown a bunch since coming to Arkansas. I’ve grown professionally just in terms of working in an office and I’ve grown personally just by talking to people that I wouldn’t have otherwise come into contact with. People that live in Arkansas, and especially people who hunt, understand the importance of conservation, even if they may not be using the same vocabulary as you are. It can be easy to write people off, but I promise you will have a better time if you don’t make a judgement until you really get to talk to someone. I disagree with the expression “People will Surprise you” because if you’re surprised, then you obviously weren’t paying enough attention to the fact that there are all kinds of people everywhere. Just, don’t let stereotypes determine your experience. Make the decision consciously of how you act around people and how you treat them.
Many of us are just out of undergrad and that can be scary! Being in school for so long makes us feel comfortable in that system. Not that I feel like I’m in the real world yet but hey, I don’t have homework. When I get off work I get to make my own homework and really discover what I want to spend my time doing. I’m not going to be cheesy and say that ‘I’m finding myself’ because I know I’m not (was I lost in the first place…) but I did realize that I don’t want to live anywhere else but New Orleans at this point in my life. I did discover that it can be just as easy to make friends as it can be to loose them. And I did discover that 4 months in a new place with new people and completely new tasks really does wire you to think about things differently. As much as I’m missing NOLA and as much as I feel stagnant at times trying to decide what I want to do with my life, I wouldn’t trade my time with CLM in Arkansas for anything.
…Sorry I promised I wouldn’t get cheesy…
To apologize, here is a picture of some seeds because aren’t seeds beautiful?
Ouachita National Forest