Amanda recounts a recent experience she had in the field conducting maintenance on a couple riparian restoration projects. Projects installed in fall 2010 required some weed control because weeds compete with native plants for water, nutrients, and real-estate. Removing the weeds by hand reduces the need for chemical control and helps native plants thrive.
My supervisor offered me the opportunity to experience a day in the field conducting some project maintenance. I never bothered asking what “maintenance” might entail instead I jumped at the chance to spend a day away from my computer.
I arrived at the designated site at 8:30am. I could tell that the day was going to be hot and that I’d regret not bringing my hat or eating breakfast. The consequences of pressing snooze a few too many times, but I didn’t have a lot of time to think about morning regrets.
“Amanda, these are the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) interns who we’ll be working with today.” My supervisor introduced me to Shawn, Nara, and Brent. All three are engineering students, who looked prepared for the task ahead. They seemed to know what they were doing.
I felt slightly intimidated. Maybe it was because I was in the presence of future engineers and a resource specialist or the fact I couldn’t tell the difference between weeds and native plants, or good grass versus an invasive grass. Suddenly, computer work became quite appealing.
Instead of letting those feelings overwhelm me, I grabbed my gloves and set to work clearing weeds and preparing plants for future monitoring. As the day progressed, so did my confidence. It became easier to indentify weeds, the BOR interns were no longer just future engineers, but individuals who I could identify with.
In 90 degree heat with no shade we worked and discussed everything from our favorite movies to our future career goals. My allergies flared up, my back and knees hurt, my arms were sun burnt, I was covered in dirt, and worst of all I forgot to take my sandwich out of the heat so by lunch it had turned into a slimy, soggy mess. I ate it anyway.
While it was not an easy day in the field I enjoyed meeting new people, learning about native and invasive vegetation, gaining hands on experience, and an appreciation for the people who will spend their whole summer doing field work.
Your friend in conservation,
For information on how you can volunteer, please call Cascadia Conservation District at 509-664-9370 or visit us on the web at http://www.cascadiacd.org/