Sadly, I’m wrapping up my season working for Seeds of Success with the BLM in Lander, WY. I knew halfway into the internship that this was one of the best decisions I had ever made, but I’m still surprised at how much I’ve fallen in love with Wyoming and its plants and wildlife! I’m sad to say goodbye, but I can’t help but hope/believe that I’ll have more opportunities to work in such a vast and marvelous place like central Wyoming. Never have I been so perplexed by the weather systems, than in Wyoming. One minute you think your going to get rained out, and the next, winds change and it’s a beautiful, sunny day…or vice versa. And the MOUNTAINS!! I am so thankful the internship was extended a month because it wasn’t until mid October that we finally got some snow; and waking up to a fresh dusting of snow on the Wind River Mountain range, is one of the most picturesque landscapes I’ve ever seen!
The experience and skills I’ve gained throughout this internship are invaluable! Because this was my first internship outside of my undergrad, I really appreciated how much safety training we were put through. From safe driving and general first aid and safety procedures, to other types of training, like computer and internet safety, I felt very confident and prepared out in the field. Our field office also offered additional bear safety training, and other training more specific to wildlife threats concerning central Wyoming, such as tics, snakes, heat exhaustion and altitude sickness. In a profession that calls for so much time spent out in the field, I didn’t realize how essential some seemingly simple skills were, like working with an intricate radio system, driving on back country two tracks, or maintaining vehicle/equipment logs. I appreciate this job and the wonderful mentor I had for providing me with such an encouraging environment to grow and improve these kinds of skills, which I know will be applicable to any job related in conservation.
But the wealth of skills and experience I gained, far extends that of the everyday workings of a government facility. The confidence this job has instilled in me, concerning practices in field botany, is irreplaceable. My ability to identify plants using a dichotomous key has improved ten-fold, as well as my general knowledge of Wyoming’s flora and the various kinds of habitats your likely to find them. I realized how crucial timing is in a job like SOS. Fruit maturation differers from plant to plant, and some plants seed out more quickly than others; I experienced how challenging this could be first hand, and have a new found appreciation for truly understanding plant lifecycles and how they differ from organism to organism.
I’m finding that, typically, that kind of knowledge can only be gained through shear doing…experience. And that’s exactly what this job allowed me to do! I couldn’t have asked for a better partner and mentor (I know I was spoiled in that regard) for being so approachable and open to questions and curiosities. With such a secure and enjoyable work atmosphere, I was really able to take advantage of every opportunity this internship had to offer and walk away with incredible memories, dear friendships, and an abundance of experience.