Our second cohort of the Doris Duke Conservation Scholars program is taking part in a conservation summer immersion program on the Colorado Plateau, and they are guest blogging here at L-C-Ideas to keep us up to speed on what they’re doing. Please check back for more!
Stacey’s internship blog
My internship experience was spending days in the hot sun, around beautiful landscapes, interacting with nature, and making new relationships. The work was strenuous, but it impacted the environment in a way that is very helpful. The first week of our internship we met with other volunteers of Grand Canyon Trust at Fishlake, UT. We started off our week pulling invasive species from the Pando Clone. Which is the oldest, and largest living organism clone of aspen. The decline of regeneration growth of Aspen was the main topic of discussion, which correlates with the issue of over grazing. Our mentor Mary O’Brien is a fantastic person, who is passionate about her area in working with grazing. Learning to interact with her on Aspen, grazing, and public lands issues was a great learning experience in how to deal with conflict. The first week we mainly did hard labor in pulling weeds to help the native species grow back in their habitat. Hiking through the thistle, gigantic hills, and working 8-4 hours a day has made me resilient towards nature. I appreciate the volunteers and my mentors who do this work for a living.
The second week we helped Sue Smith, who was a researcher working on her Master’s degree. Her research study was based on native grass diversity in Aspen-woodland regions, with transects. It rained all week making even harder to read transects, record, and take photos. However, I learned more in this week than any other week, because I was out in the field running transects. Mary also gave each intern the privilege to engage us, make us feel comfortable to ask questions, and learn about botany.
The third week was a more relaxed week with traveling to the La Sal Mountains, just two hours from Castle Valley. We ran transects on enclosures to study the native and invasive plant diversity. We also looked at the Aspen regeneration in grazed allotments, and learned about how grazing relates to climate change.
My internship was a great experience being exposed to new adventures, a new look in what career I want to study, and how to look at the environment. I also gained a lot of friendships through this internship and engaging with the older volunteers. Learning the differences about life, conservation and the different way of thinking. Educate, live, laugh and enjoy nature.