Today is my last day at my internship. Five months at the BLM in Vale, Oregon has allowed me to grow immensely, professionally and personally. With this internship I aimed to strengthen my plant identification skills, become more familiar with the workings of a government agency, learn more about plant and soil interactions, and gain field monitoring and surveying experience. I am satisfied that my experience these past five months has allowed me to reach each of those goals.
I have been exposed to countless new plant species and quite a few animal species as well. I am now able to correctly identify numerous plants in the field, and confidently key forbs, rushes, sedges, and grasses to species using a dichotomous key. I will admit, rushes, sedges, and grasses take a bit more time and effort than forbs, but considering my lack of experience prior to this position I am pleased with my growth.
My familiarity with the workings of the BLM has come mostly from my interactions and conversations with coworkers. While I was not a part of the processes that determine funding, land management, species, range, etc. decisions, my in depth conversations with various employees have allowed me to paint a more complete picture of how the BLM in governed, and the current projects throughout the district.
I was able to spend a week with the Environmental Site Inventory crew performing soil and vegetation surveys in southeastern Oregon. I was not only taught how to perform both of these surveys, but learned several indicator plant species and soils types for various major land resource areas (MLRAs). I enjoyed using the soils information, present vegetation, geography, geology, and climate to determine the MLRA, determining from there the pre-described or newly discovered ecological site, and finally rating the health of the ecosystem. It was like solving a puzzle; highly enjoyable.
I have also greatly strengthened my ArcGIS skills. After frequently using ArcMap to locate our field sites, and taking a Basics of ArcMap10.2 and Geoprocessing course, I feel highly more competent at preforming a variety of ArcGIS tasks. I created a map of all previous SOS collections sites for future uses. It was a great way to practice my knowledge, and believe it will be useful.
I have grown personally as much as I have professionally. I have learned a lot more about which aspects in a job I do and do not enjoy, where I can improve at work, the kind of location I thrive best within, and where certain aspects of my life fall on my list of priorities. There are also several truly good-hearted people I have met here. They are the reason my experience has been so rich. As ready as I am to move forward, it is sad to say goodbye.
I do not have another job lined up right now. I have been/am actively seeking work; just have not snagged anything quite yet. I have made quite a few contacts during my internship, whom have been extremely helpful. I do plan to apply for another CLM internship. I feel I can still benefit from another round. I would like to have a more research oriented internship/job next, with more statistically sound monitoring, where I can analyze our data in an effort to help make wise land management decisions. My plans right now consist of a week or more trip to Portland, where I’ll meet up with my sister, and then return to Vale to continue the job hunt and gather my belongings. If I do not have a job by the end of October, I will most likely move to the Denver area. I have been looking for work in this area, and hope that making the move will help. I’m a bit nervous for what is next, but more excited than anything else.
Vale, OR BLM