Coming in before dawn, waiting for the sun to rise to begin the day’s work are moments where you realize how beautiful the natural world truly is. The senses of hearing, sight, touch and smell are exposed to early morning bird calls and dew stuck to all surface. The experience of the sunrise transitioning from burnt orange and cool temperatures to a bright sunflower yellow raise against your back as you start to work, is beautiful with the landscape of the Crossbar. You realize the world is bigger than yourself, despite still not being fully awake.
There is no set project we must complete on an 11-week term, but rather it is a literal field of new experiences and most often a change in plans. This can be nerve-wracking if you are someone like me who needs to strategically plan for events and or needs to know the exact flow of things to visualize and follow directions. But in this line of work, you must learn to adapt like the ever-changing mixed-grass prairie itself on the Cross Bar, in Amarillo, Texas.
You quickly learn that while out in the field as much as you have a plan made up in your mind, it will most likely be met with mishaps. Like while eradicating mesquite an invasive plant found on the property with chemical herbicide the group and I were faced with challenges at least once a day, like pull chords to start machines engines would break off, or the UTA (utility task vehicle) getting not one, but 2 large punchers from jagged rocks causing flats. These things take time to fix whether in the field or taking it to a shop. Plans are not definite and with this internship, you learn to be okay with that while still on a deadline.
Every day is an adventure, I have been given what I believe the best intern position throughout the BLM field offices. Some mornings I was presented with challenges from the moment I crossed over the first cattle guard, but others there is laughter. Like the time a herd of Hereford cows, owned by a local ranger, refused to move. They looked at us like we were crazy for honking our truck horn at them. Is it hard work? Yes. Are people surprised to see a 5’1 young woman doing such work? Sure, but during my interview my now boss asked me flat out if I was prepared to work and learn something completely new and I said yes.
P.S. He knew I was a city girl!
Fieldwork has in many ways taught me to adapt my learning and work habits and have confidence in my ability to complete tasks that are completely foreign to me. As my internship begins to wind down to a close, I know I can take my experience anywhere and apply these skill sets to any other position or career path.