This summer has been one for the books. I am going to miss a lot of people up here who kept me sane and opened their hearts to me. The internship made me think a lot about what I want in my life and how I want to live out at least the next year of my life. I’ve excepted an AmeriCorps position back in New Orleans with a super awesome urban forestry non-profit. I’ll be planting trees around the city to help mitigate the heat island effect and help the city deal with water (more trees=more places for the water to be effectively absorbed). Check them out —> SOUL NOLA
As much as I enjoyed learning how a government office is run, I’m excited to learn more about the non-profit world. I’ve been missing the outreach/community organization minded work that I was involved in during college and I know that you can always volunteer (which I did multiple times this summer) but in my mind it just isn’t the same as helping and serving your community as a full time job. And of course working for the government is almost ultimate service but you don’t work directly with communities in the same way as you do in the non-profit world. I’m excited to start learning this non-profit side of service while still keeping my ability to work outside!
What I learned:
I can effectively identify milkweed from a car going 20 mph
I can glue plants to botany paper for hours and actually really really enjoy it
Milkweed seeds and pods look like an artists pallet
I expected to be outside more than I was (this was particular to my internship and obviously don’t ring true for others). And I don’t think I expected to be driving as much as I did!
I also thought that I would be working more closely with monarch butterflies but I mainly worked with a whole botany cabinets worth of plants, milkweed, and Echinacea.
I realized that Arkansas is basically trying to start its own seeds of success program and that it is just getting off the ground. Too bad it wasn’t farther along because that would have been a very enjoyable project to throw myself into.
Because Arkansas is landlocked they make lakes everywhere to make up for it. So I don’t have any field photos of myself….but here is a picture of me enjoying 1 of the 3 lakes that is within an hour from Hot Springs.
I learned that sometimes a position that isn’t exactly fit for you is exactly what you need. When I say ‘exactly fit’ for me, I just mean that it didn’t combine certain loves of mine that I realized I want in my career and that’s ok. My supervisor Susan along with my ‘second boss’ Virginia were great company the whole summer and really gave me a great idea of what it’s like to work in their sector of the Forest Service. I think that if I returned to this kind of work I would either want to be directly involved in a Seeds of Success program where I am outside most every day or I would be a wildlife tech (a job that seems immeasurably fun).
I learned that seed cleaners make your job go a lot quicker.
Overall this was a great experience and I got to dip my hands into a bunch of different things! From field surveys, to creating signs for pollinator gardens, to collecting plants out in the forest then gluing those plants, to collecting seeds, to taking care of a milkweed garden….the list goes on and on.
I can’t say that your CLM experience will be like this (any future interns reading this) but if you end up in Arkansas let me know and I can and will give you the low-down. This state and the Ouachita National Forest became my home for the past 5 months and I can’t think of a better use of my time.
I’m off to the non-profit world but I know that I will be returning to field biology and a more science minded industry in the future….I’m just not sure what that will look like. The goal is to combine all my loves from community service to environmentalism/food access and all the way over to ecological theory and evolutionary concepts.