Weather Stations and Water Wells

July has been a month of working on weather stations and wells in Natrona County. My mentor, Shane Evans, is responsible for maintaining 18 gauging stations across Natrona county. All of the stations have at least a rain gauge, a temperature gauge, and a transmitting antenna. Some of the more complicated ones measure stream height, and take water samples.

Rainfall is the main determinant of the maximum yield of rangelands, so rainfall data is especially important to ranchers. The stream height data helps Shane track the response of a stream to rainfall inundation. If a stream is well-vegetated and not too deeply incised, then its banks should be able to withstand high flow events without eroding.

Shane has been working on updating the computer systems in all of the gauging stations and replacing the pressure sensors. I’ve had the chance to come out with Shane and learn a bit about wiring. I’ve also had the chance to do some demolition work on old weather stations!

Shane also oversees all of the livestock wells on public land in Natrona county, a number close to 300! The wells are extremely important in the arid high desert: they allow ranchers to move their cattle through areas with no surface water. Often in the summer, Shane gets concerned calls from ranchers explaining that a well is not producing very much water. Would you please come out and take a look? Of course! Off we go in Shane’s F-350. We bring electrical tools to check on the solar power, and the computer which controls the pump. We also look around the area to make sure that water is not seeping out of a broken pipe before it reaches the troughs.

Shane’s F-350 pulled up next to Cowboy Well

I love the variety of work we get to do in the hydrology division. Water is vital to all life, but its importance is especially prevalent in the arid west, a fact which keeps the hydrologists very busy!

Living the wildlife dream

Working in the wildlife department at the BLM office in Rawlins, Wyoming, I’ve had a wide array of experiences.

The main goal of my mentor, Tony, one of the seven biologists at this field office, is to get an idea of what amphibians and reptiles are present in Wyoming. Not a lot of work has been done in Wyoming around amphibians, and since my independent study was about salamanders, I have been super excited to contribute to this goal!

Our main project is to determine what species are present in an area up by Ferris Mountains. To achieve this, we set up 12 traps, each consisting of short, hardware cloth fencing, pitfall traps, funnel traps, and cover boards. The idea behind the fence is that reptiles, amphibians, and small mammals will run into the fence and either fall into a pitfall trap or walk (slither) into a funnel trap. I’ve had the opportunity to handle and process many animals now, including rattlesnakes, garter snakes, bull snakes, horned lizards, shrews, mice, voles, and pocket gophers! After we find an animal, we process them. Since this is a herptile study, we care more about the reptiles and amphibians we find than the mammals. So, we take measurements of all animals but tag or mark only the amphibians and reptiles, with some exceptions. For mammals, we simply take measurements of their hind foot, tail, and ear. For snakes and lizards, we measure tail, SVL (snout-vent length), mass, and sex them. After that, we PIT tag them, which involves making a tiny incision on their side or belly, placing a PIT tag under the skin through the incision, and sealing them up with NuSeal. We read the PIT tag number using a reader so that we can identify the individual upon recapture. For amphibians, we gather similar data but instead of PIT tagging, we perform toe clippings on frogs and don’t actually have a good way of marking or tagging salamanders, since they regenerate appendages. After processing the animals, we set them free if they are alive. If the animal is dead, which sometimes happens with the mammals (to my dismay), we keep them in Ziplock bags and store them in a freezer at the office until we can take them to a museum to be identified.

Holding my second rattlesnake of the summer! It is tubed for our safety!

I have a few favorite things about doing these surveys:

  • Finding the mammals (alive)! Even though I truly admire snakes for their unique morphological traits and adaptations, and amphibians for my experience with them, the mammals are my favorite animals to find in our traps. I think it’s simply because we have more common with the small mammals then the reptiles and amphibians; they are easy to connect with!
  • When we find a species that hasn’t been at our traps yet! This is the second year of surveys, and the last time we trapped was the first time we had a tiger salamander (Ambystoma mavortium) in one of our traps! Finding an animal that is new to the traps is one of the greatest feelings ever. Now we know that these traps work on these salamanders!
  • When we have a mammal that isn’t aggressive, is docile, friendly, and lets us handle them! I’ve noticed that mice are the most docile, while voles are the most aggressive. So when we have a mammal that is friendly, it’s comforting to know that we might not be causing them huge amounts of anxiety.
  • Noticing differences in physical traits and personality between animals of the same species. For example, we found a vole that had a dot of white-colored fur on both hips, but we never noticed this color and pattern on any other vole.

For the first time ever, we found two live mice huddled together in the same trap. My partner held one while I held the other. It was really cute to see them sniff each other and then ‘boop snoots’, even as we held them! It goes to show how unphased they are by humans.

This is the vole with two white spots on its lower back!

In addition to our monthly trapping, I’ve done raptor nest monitoring, burrowing owl monitoring, dipnetting ponds, a wild horse gather, horned lizard surveys and my two favorite: endangered Wyoming toad surveys and endangered black-footed ferret surveys! I’ will talk more about those in my next post!

All in all, I am super grateful that I acquired this internship because I think it will be a key step on my career path towards working with animals, which has always been my dream. Now with this experience, this dream actually seems achievable. Thanks CBG!


Arkansauce–the band and the concept

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.

caught this deer mid-tree

We have ‘mountains’, as someone who grew up in Arizona, they are more so just large hills…but, they count

More ‘natural’ stand of pine trees (1st picture was in the seed orchard)

……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

Snapshot from the Begining

Hello! My name is Renata Kamakura and I am one of the CLM interns working for the Forest Service in Oregon. A lot has happened since I started in June but I figured I would give you all a bit of a sense of where I was at when the internship first began. I promise I will catch you up on the last couple of months at a later date. So here you go: when it all began ….

*Time machine moving you back to June 2018*

Hello! I just started work in Cottage Grove, OR a few weeks ago. I had a mad dash to the start of this internship with only a day between when I graduated and the start of the training in Chicago. As such, I spent the first week trying to catch my breath, unpack, and get somewhat oriented. That said, while slightly discombobulated, I still learnt a ton from the people at the Dorena Genetic Resource Center (DGRC). It is an interesting place that has more of a nursery feel than most Forest Service locations but the people are incredible, with both skill and a sense of humor. It also has some remarkable sunrises and sunsets, which I have been thoroughly enjoying since we work four 10-hour days.

Sunset at the Raised Beds

We ended up doing a range of things like splitting ferns (to try to double how many ferns we have to use), thinning species (to help reduce mold spread and infestations), transplanting Port-Orford Cedar (POC) (moving them into larger containers so they can continue to grow), and just general inventorying and cleaning that needs to happen to keep the place running.

One of the Greenhouses

As we go about the day-to-day tasks, we get tid-bits on why we are doing what we’re doing and how it fits into the broader restoration goals. I figured I might as well pass on some of these since they are a bit more interesting than just me regaling you with stories of getting caught in spider webs while contorting myself around POC branches trying to find the tree’s identification number (let’s just say I have never been known for my grace). As an aside, I do have a photo of a weed-mat I managed to get over a yellow jacket nest on a young pine sapling. There was only moderate grumbling from the occupants and a brief stare down between myself and one of the more defensive yellow jackets.

Wasp nest on sapling and under the weed mat, by some miracle

Rather than being due to some kind of herculean bravery or skill on my part it was mostly due to me not noticing the nest early enough, deciding I was in too deep at that point, and then just trying to placate the yellow jackets by softly murmuring to them as I tried to get the mat on properly. I must have looked like a maniac but the weed mat is on and I didn’t get attacked so I’ll consider it a victory. Though I would not recommend trying that at home; I just got really lucky (or perhaps the yellow jackets sensed that I was more just blind than malicious) and yellow jacket stings are not pleasant.  Unfortunately some of my fellow workers were not so lucky and one poor guy got stung at least 5 times.

Tangent aside, one of the interesting things about DGRC is that it is apparently one of only two places in the country that grows ferns from spores. That took me by surprise because there are a lot of places growing plants in the US and you’d figure they’d be able to do it if they can grow everything from giant pines to hundreds of different types of roses. Also, the people working with the ferns at DGRC treat the process with a certain nonchalance and do not make it seem like it was impossibly difficult (which, in retrospect, is more a testament to their humility than anything else). If you do a quick google search you’ll find bunch of articles and videos (which are helpful but their camerawork is less impressive than their knowledge of fern biology) on how to grow ferns from spores. John T. Mickel, in an article he wrote for the New York Times in 1979, just called in a “modest challenge” that admittedly “does take patience and care” but seems doable for the average Joe. Now, all this made me confused as to why only one other place in the states was growing ferns from spores given that you get a ton more individuals that way, but the handy Mr. Mickel shed a bit of light on that. He explains that “A major problem in growing ferns from spores is contamination. Spores of mosses, fungi and algae are everywhere – in the air, on all surfaces, in tap water and in unsterilized soil.” So, as you try to propagate the ferns, you have to try to avoid propagating the “invading hoards” of everything else (Mickel 1979; the language seems a bit dramatic but I suppose one has to really drive home the point). If you are trying to do this on an industrial scale, I can see why it might not be worth the trouble when you can just split the ferns, which only requires some water, soil, and a good knife (basically anyway). It is also not the easiest thing ever to separate out the young fern individuals without damaging their roots to be able to move them into their separate pots. There are lots of little things that make the process challenging and it is really cool to see the people here do it with relative ease (or they are just good at pretending it is easy).

So, there you go, random tidbit of the month: growing ferns from spores at a large scale is hard but if you need some sword ferns DGRC know what they’re doing. That and look at what you are doing when you try to put weed mats on plants when there are  nesting yellow-jackets in the area.

Works Cited

Mickel, J. T. (1979, February 4). From Tiny Spores Big Ferns Grow. New York Times, p. 41. Retrieved from

More than Idaho

15 July – 12 August 2018

I have done quite a bit of traveling with this internship, which I find to be both exciting and troubling. This suburban Midwestern gal has meandered through the wild lands of Idaho, Wyoming, Nevada, and Utah in the past three months. It’s been neat to discover various pieces of so many states in such a short time, but I am deeply conflicted by the amount of traveling this job requires. In all honesty, I find this internship to be a bit of a paradox. I understand climate change to be one of the reasons this internship exists: as the frequency and intensity of wildfires increase in the Western United States, it’s even more important to have a bank of diverse and native seed available for the restoration of the sagebrush steppe. (I have recently learned a “steppe” is a large area devoid of trees.) Despite this, I find it difficult to justify the amount of fossil fuels I must burn in order to accomplish my job. Sometimes I spend one-third to one-half of the work week in a vehicle. My ability to justify my gas-guzzling activities is only complicated when the areas I visit do not have large enough plant populations to collect seed from.

My frequent traveling began in mid-July, when I had the privilege of working with the region’s range crew. I was working with four men to monitor sites in the Curlew National Grassland for the control of leafy spurge (Euphorbia esula), a noxious weed. We were assigned the task of returning to sites where beetles (Oberea erythrocephala and Apthona spp.) and sheep have been used to control leafy spurge. We had 12+ year-old photos of the habitat and the occasional GPS coordinates (which we soon learned were not very accurate…) to guide us to the sites, complete vegetation surveys and take some more photos. It was pretty dang cool to look down at a photo from 2006 showing a sea of leafy spurge and look up at the exact same landscape in 2018 and find very few leafy spurge plants. I guess the sheep and beetles have been doing their job. My favorite part was using sweep nets to scoop up and count the spurge-eating beetles. My least favorite part was the 4 hours of driving each day.

If it weren’t for biocontrol, this habitat would likely be a sea of yellow, due to the aggressiveness of leafy spurge. The yellow you see here is primarily from yellow rabbitbrush (Chrysothamnus viscidiflorus).

Oberea erythrocephala bores into the stems of leafy spurge; the Apthona spp. (not pictured) consume the leaves of the plant.

As the end of July rolled around, my Seeds of Success project began to get into full-swing and that’s when some serious traveling began. I have spent quite a bit of time working with a crew from the Rocky Mountain Research Station in Boise, which included Allison Buiser – another CLM intern! It’s always great to have company. Since I have been hunting wildflowers in Idaho, Wyoming, Nevada, and Utah, I have encountered cattle and sheep herds on the move, visited some neat geological areas like Balanced Rock and Little City of Rocks, traveled straight through the Humboldt National Forest in one day (possibly because of a missed turn…), climbed many slopes covered in loose rock, and even started dreaming about some of the species I need to collect seed from.

Machaeranthera canescens – one of the species I need to collect for Seeds of Success. I think this plant is cute, but it has haunted many of my dreams…

Several hundred sheep, seven dogs, two horses, and two shepherds creates a bit of a traffic jam on a Forest Service road. There were no casualties though!

Allison (right) and me (left) cheesin’ at Balanced Rock – we thought it looked like such a happy rock!

Little City of Rocks was an exciting place to explore. What do you see in these rocks?

Some 17-year-old gazetteers helped Allison and I navigate through the Humboldt National Forest. Kind of…

When Allison and I took a lunch break in the Humboldt National Forest, I couldn’t resist splashing into the stream. It had been so long since either of us had worked near a body of water.

There have been many disheartening days where I have not found any of the plants I am looking for. However, I usually finish the week with at least one population to collect seed from, which is definitely better than nothing. And while I am not fond of the amount of gas I burn in order to travel to all these sites, I am still excited to have been so many new places in such a short time.

Cheers to more adventures!


USFS Idaho Falls, ID

September Fun

I spent some quality time out in the field conducting the last of the field surveys. Although not here yet, autumn is on its way.The colors are beginning to appear.

I finished up the lake surveys with a monster day of paddling a collecting, about 15 miles in total. The wind was not helpful in the least.

We spent several days working on the bilberry project. We planted about 450 plugs at three new sites, weeded the others to try and help with establishment. Another day, I went out with some wildlife biologists to evaluate the potential for sustaining a  population of blue northern butterfly and some ideas for sourcing them from on the forest

I played hero for the day by discovering a new population of Panax quinquefolius. Just a couple of plants but also some evidence of seed production.

Panax quinquefolius


Some other interesting plants from the forest:

Desert Treasure

Our job has become a treasure hunt on a grand scale. The treasure we seek is not gold, or diamonds: it’s water.

We are now well into the process of spring inventory. Twenty years ago, BLM hydrologists went all over Natrona County and catalogued information about every single spring on BLM land. The hydrologists took photos, made maps, and took water quality samples. The time is ripe for new hydrologists to begin the task of assessing the health of these wetland areas.

Armed with topographic maps from the 90’s, and a couple of old photographs, we set out in our pick-up to check the wetlands. The search is sometimes simple: a spring may lie just off a county road, but often, things get complicated. Two-tracks visible on satellite imagery are not always what they appear to be on the ground. There may be a giant rut running through the center of the two tracks. One false move, and the truck is almost guaranteed to be stuck.

I’m always excited when we find the wetlands. We may have been hiking or driving for an hour, not seeing a trace of green vegetation, or water, when suddenly we come upon a wet meadow with a giant cottonwood swaying in the wind. Water in the desert! Treasure found!

Sometimes the spring is very colorful and smelly!

The next task is to take some quick, but informative water quality measurements: conductivity, pH, and temperature. Then we take photographs, and map the area precisely using arc Collector on a tablet. Afterwards we inventory the riparian plants found in the area and assess the ecological condition of the spring using a checklist designed by the Natural Resource Conservation Association. Then it’s on to the next spring! Only three hundred more to go!

Getting Stuck Sucks


There are some things growing up in a city can never prepare you for. Driving on dirt roads and two tracks are one of those things. I’m not an absolute novice on country roads, but that’s certainly a skill I’ve had to work on during my internship. It seems like one of those things that comes as second nature once you know what you’re doing, but the learning curve is steep. On paved roads, the only impediments you have to look out for are things cutting in front of you like people, cars, and wildlife. Off the pavement, the road itself is sometimes an impediment out to get you. I’ve learned it’s all about angles and speed. Unfortunately, I had to learn that the hard way. It’s a sad thing to call your mentor an hour before your weekend is supposed to start to explain you’ve gotten your truck high centered and you need a rescue. Emma (my mentor) is thankfully very understanding and came out with another guy from the office to tow us out. From what everyone at the office has told me, this happens to everyone. Failing is a crucial part of learning. It still sucks.

My office has a great sense of humor with field work, so they have an “award” called the Golden Shovel that you get to sign and hang up in your cubicle if you have to get rescued. I’d like to say I only had to sign that shovel once, but we’ve had a couple other incidents out in the field regarding keys. We’ve locked ourselves out, and a key magically dropped off the key ring one day in the sagebrush. In terms of keys, I’ve learned that zippered pockets are absolutely ESSENTIAL. If the keys aren’t in the ignition, they’re in a zippered pocket.

As I write this post, I feel silly because it sounds so common sense. Of course it’s important to learn how to navigate the terrain and keep your keys safe. But truly, it’s been a big part of my summer. I take a couple seconds to stop and think about my surroundings and what I need to do to do my job well and keep myself safe, and this consistency and mindfulness has been key (sorry for the bad pun, I’ll see myself out). 

If you’ve made it this far, here’s one of my favorite flowers to collect seeds from, Perideridia gairdneri ssp. borealis. Apparently, the roots were a staple food for Native Americans; I’ve yet to try cooking them, but I’d like to. Truthfully, they’re my favorite flower because the seeds are so satisfying to collect. They produce a lot of seeds per flower, and the seeds are surprisingly big for having so many on an umbel. It’s a wonderful little plant that I’ve enjoyed working with. (My coworker also thinks they smell like Diet Pepsi, which is a plus).

The New Ruminant on the Block

     Buffalo used to be the largest ruminant on the North American continent. Now, the ecological role of buffalo has been taken up by domesticated cattle. The BLM plays a huge role in managing ranching operations on public lands, and strives to make sure that sustainable yields of cattle can be maintained long into the future.

Cattle being moved to a new pasture.

     As part of the management of ranching operations, the BLM performs rangeland health assessments, which are reports outlining the ecological health of land grazed by cattle. To provide an inter-disciplinary examination of the land, we pool our expertise with the range team and the wildlife team. Ranchers in these arid plains need to be careful to not overgraze their allotments. Grasses take a long time to become established, and if a herd of cows grazes all of the grass to the ground, it may be five or ten years before anything can grow on the sandy soils. Furthermore, overgrazed areas are prone to invasion by non-native species, which are not as palatable to cows, and very difficult to remove. The wildlife team is mostly concerned with making sure that enough habitat remains in these areas to support the sage-grouse, a threatened species.

     The hydrologists are concerned with the health of wetland areas. In the summer, a cow may return to a water source three or four times a day in order to drink. Many times these water sources are artificial troughs fed from wells, but sometimes they may travel to natural sources of water. Hydrologists are responsible for monitoring the health of the riparian areas on public lands, which in this case, often means making sure that the wetland areas are not over-used. We are looking for signs of damage to the fragile ecosystems, like deep hoof-prints, which form bumps over time (called hummocks).

     The hydrologists are also responsible for taking and processing soil samples. We are updating the Natural Resource Conservation Association’s soil type map. Soil type, along with precipitation, is the most important predictor of ecotype. Soils with a good balance of silt, clay, and sand, tend to be better able to support grasses. Many ranches lease land on sandy soils which are more prone to erosion, and have a lower yield than more loamy soils. Updating the soil information helps the range team create accurate estimates of how many head of cattle one acre of land can support.


Me holding a photo board to document a seep on BLM land.

     Ranching is definitely not an easy task in the arid plains of central Wyoming, and participating in the rangeland health assessments has helped me to appreciate the vast quantities of land needed to support cattle. Sometimes I try to visualize the large herds of bison that used to run through the plains of the United States. And sometimes, if I try hard enough, I can hear the thunder of their hooves rushing along to green pastures.


Turning over a new leaf…

When you change your focus from limitations to boundless possibilities, from doubt and fear, to love and confidence, you open your world in entirely new ways. However, change is not something that necessarily comes easy….Albert Einstein once wrote, “The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.” To truly change…change one’s ideas, habits, perspective, etc. means that one has to have the courage to leap into the unknown. The unknown can be scary, the unknown can often pose an effort of resistance to change. However, it is this resistance that is the only painful aspect of change.

Things are changing rapidly, for all of us. A new job, a new life, maybe a vacation, perhaps back to school. A shift in gears and a turning of leaves (literally). Fall is on its way, and although today is 80 degrees and bluebird skies in Denver, the crisp mornings and evenings lend homage to the onset of Autumn.

Sunset on some cottonwoods behind my house

My experience here at the state office for the Colorado BLM has been one for the books. A big step in my overall career building experience, as I have had the opportunity to spend weeks in the field conducting rare plant surveys, and also working behind the scenes with the data, writing technical reports, and even establishing a new demographic monitoring protocol. To be able to use my skills in and out of the field here has been one of the things I have been the most thankful for in this job, as a lot of my past experiences with field work have led me to submerge myself in only a few aspects of the scientific method, whereas here I have been given the opportunity to do much more.

Exploring Canyons of the Aincients National Monument 
on our way back home from the field

My time here in Colorado has also truly solidified my interest and ambition to continue to pursue education, and with the way things are looking that very well might be possible in the coming months. I have been speaking with a potential adviser about a scholarship opportunity that seems very promising, working on a project well-aligned with my interests in conservation biology, and forest pathology, in a place that would be very, very far away, but would be a great experience and practice in leaping into the unknown…I have been waiting to go back to school for a while, as it is expensive, funding is limited, and to be honest…I have been very picky in choosing an adviser, a project theme, and a place to commit myself to living for an extended period of time. It is a frustrating process, especially when many of the advisers that I would like to work with seemingly have endlessly full labs, limited funding, or don’t even respond to my emails…The frustration makes it hard to keep trying, but with a little patience, “the right wave will come, and when it does, grab your board, jump on, and ride it for all its worth” (Melody Beattie, Journey to the Heart). We will see how things shake out in these next few months…

Driving towards Independence Pass on the way to the 
Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness

While I will not miss the Denver metro area, or the hot muggy summer days…I will miss a lot of things about my time here. My garden, my house, my awesome crew and co-worker Lauren, the nooks and crannies of the Colorado Rockies, full strength beer. Up next, I am headed to Moab in a week to start a new job with the USGS. The desert has always been a place that has excited pieces of my soul in strange ways, though I have never thought I would be capable of living in the conditions. A summer in Colorado has been rough for me, as I am acclimatized to temperate, cool, rain and fog. From what I hear, the fall in Moab is great though, and I sure am excited to get some red dust all over my bike again.

My backyard featuring way too many peaches

Cheers to a great season of growth, pursuit, and experience! It has been a pleasure meeting you all, and I look forward to keeping in touch as everyone moves into their next adventures. And also…if anyone wants to come visit Moab, or plans to pass through on their way to wherever they may be headed next…give me a shout!

All the best,


Morning Mate with a view (Somewhere in Utah)