Rising from the ashes

Rising from the ashes – sorry to be cliché, but it is quite literally true in my case. The Dixie Fire was extremely disruptive to my project and my plans for this summer overall. It was not at all what I was expecting, but I suppose it is hard to “expect” those kinds of things. I only got about halfway through my project before it happened. I thought it was going to ruin everything and I even thought for a second I might not be able to finish out my fellowship. I was so invested in this project and was truly loving what I was doing. Going to work in the beautiful mountains, surrounded by meadows and streams… catching little critters… it was a literal dream. I knew I went into the right field. It never felt like “work” to me because I was doing what I loved in a breathtakingly beautiful place. It was hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel when that was taken away.

Turns out I have some great supervisors, who reached out to other parks, making sure that

Surveying for Pika on Mount Scott (Photo Credit: Joelee Tooley)

myself and the rest of the wildlife crew could still make the most out of our summer. So I ended up at Crater Lake National Park, another stunning destination. I always wanted to go to Oregon anyways! They immediately took us in and showed us the ropes there. I found it amazing how our neighbors at Crater Lake ran things fairly differently than we did at Lassen. Each park has is own unique ecosystems, but also its own unique way of doings things as well. Being exposed to multiple different management styles and meeting so many more professionals in this field was truly one of the best parts of my fellowship. I got to help out with a variety of projects (instead of just one) like meso-carnivore camera work, bird banding, and still did quite a few pika surveys as well!

A change of perspective

Watching the sun set in Crater Lake after work (Photo credit: Joelee Tooley)

The more I settled into Crater Lake, the more I realized how lucky I was to be there. Sure, I missed Lassen, and my project because it was SO cool, but I got to do and see amazing things I wouldn’t have if I had stayed at Lassen. I made friends, I made connections, I learned new skills, and I got to know myself even more. I went into this fellowship thinking “oh this is going to be great professional experience” or “this is going to look great on my resume” and “I am going to get direct hire authority which is a huge plus.” While all those things are very VERY true, one thing I didn’t expect was the amount of professional AND personal growth I would go through. This experience was not easy. It challenged me in about every way I can think of. And now I feel SO prepared to enter the work force and begin my life long career in natural resource conservation. It is one thing to go to school and study wildlife, but it is a whole other thing to actually get to go out there and experience what it is like to work in this profession. For me, this fellowship has solidified in my mind that this is what I want to do for the rest of my life. I can only hope that future fellows have the same wonderful experience that I had.

Another sun set at Crater Lake (Photo Credit: Joelee Tooley)
Set of Elk Antlers found while checking a camera! (Photo Credit: Anna Roberts)