Thursday, November 03, 2011

Field Notes

This is how I spent a good portion of the past five-month internship as a MNAP conservation aide: hiking into natural areas and recording things like plant species, soil conditions, terrain and topography, and any signs of animal use of the habitat. It was an amazing hands-on experience. There's another component to assessing natural areas, though - somehow it all has to be documented in some useful manner. So that's how I spent the rest of my work time - filling out field forms, creating maps with GIS, updating databases, and reviewing photographs. Once home at the end of the day, my backpack got emptied and the plant specimens pressed (most of them anyway), photos downloaded onto the computer, and GPS points transferred from the Garmin.
The internship is over now and I'm searching for the next great job, one that will pay enough to keep up with the school loan payments, purchase some fuel to see the grandkids & kids, buy a plane ticket to Colorado, and contribute to our regular household expenses. Just as important, a job that will challenge and further build my botany skills.
The job search began a month or so ago. Relatively few postitions and limited experience seems to be the biggest obstacles to finding an entry level job as a botanist, naturalist, or ecologist. Hopefully I'll hear back soon about one of the many applications I've submitted. Until then, I have a stack of dried pressed plants and a computer file of photographs on my desk and there are still a lot of trails and natural areas to explore!

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