Learning and Teaching Learning and Teaching
12 January 2023

Learning and Teaching

Hello MANO blog!

For my penultimate blog post, I would like to tell you all about the professional development projects I’ve done in the last 5 and a half months of my internship. First, I completed an online course in R programming, which I’ve used to chart changes across a landscape and now can utilize in many more, deeper ways than before. I also polished up my ArcMap skills by taking an online ArcGIS course. I’m incredibly luckily to have taken a GIS course back in college that taught me a wide foundation of skills that I now apply to my work for the US Forest Service every month if not several times a month, creating completed maps and shapefiles from on-the-ground data, even from data that I’ve collected myself!

My last and largest story however, is how I came to become a teacher instead of student and showed the beauty and the science behind New Mexico’s landscapes to students from around the country. Last week, I volunteered with a group of college students from around the US who were visiting New Mexico to learn about careers in natural resources, with field studies at three rivers and guest lectures from professionals in USFS, USGS, NRCS, EPA, the Audubon Society, local fish hatcheries, the list goes on! Although my current role in USFS is in Special Uses, I come from a background in soil science and survey, so when I applied to the program I was asked if I could teach the soils portion of their field study project. I accepted!

From the jampacked days to long study nights, from the office of the USGS Sediment Lab to the river valleys of the Rio Grande, Pecos River, and Rio Chama, we learned what makes NM’s landscapes from the ground up and even below. We got our hands dirty learning to describe and interpret a soil profile from its horizons, color, texture, and structures, and our feet wet kicking in the river for macroinvertebrates, which are small aquatic insects that help indicate stream health. Overall, it was a wonderful week and I’m so glad to have gotten to show a part of our natural world that often goes overlooked.

Bonus photo:

Here’s the soil data we collected, as represented by a graphic I generated in R Studio (AQP package), complete with accurate color descriptions from the Munsell Soil Color book!

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