Internship with Forest Service: Tiger Canyon
Noxious Weed Specialist, Larry Frank, mentioned the need for an intern to assist
him his research of the noxious weeds Yellow Starthistle and Dalmatian Toadflax.
I took this opportunity as my first time working with the U.S. Forest Service
and doing field research. My goals and objectives in interning with the U.S.
Forest Service and Ranger Larry Frank were to monitor changes in vegetation,
especially changes due to the introduction of alien species. Special attention
would be given to Yellow Starthistle and Dalmatian Toadflax, noxious weeds which
are trying to be controlled by the introduction of several different types of
Weevils. To accomplish this we set up and installed eight vegetation transects.
Photographs were taken and General Site and Setting Forms were filled out with
pertinent information using measurements and predetermined codes. Most of my
time spent on this internship was in the field, at Tiger Canyon, traversing
the hillsides to set up the transects and take pictures. We spent time at the
Umatilla National Forest Service Headquarters together, cleaning up our data
and putting together our documentation.
The goals of this internship have been modified through the semester from monitoring throughout the year to only establishing the transects and collecting the data that both Larry Frank and I knew how to determine. Larry Frank applied for and received a grant from the State of Washington to hire an independent contractor that can monitor the vegetation throughout the year with biological knowledge that can be applied. This way, the independent contractor can document all the vegetation and soil types throughout the year, which is more than either Larry or I are capable of doing because of our lack of a biology background. Larry was able to make a Task Order Form with the information we collected of each site and the pictures I took. The Task Order Form will serve as a Job Description and Application for independent contractors that are interested in the job.
Larry Frank made this internship a way for me to get to know how the Forest Service works in different areas. He wanted to immerse me in the different fields, and let me choose what work I wanted to do and what areas I would like to have been exposed to. My experience was been completely positive and I enjoyed my time spent outside and off campus doing physical work. As the weather became more and more hinder some to our work we moved inside, and I was able to meet other Forest Service employees in different fields. I met with the head of the Fire Fighting Personnel and was able to ask questions pertaining to that line of work. I learned how to apply to the U.S. Forest Service and what is the best way to get the job I want. Larry made sure to give me a chance to learn about the geology and landscape of this area because it pertains to my studies. I am thinking about applying for a job with the Forest Service this summer and so this diversity of experiences is a benefit for me to be able to look into the different positions available in the Forest Service.
The only problem we encountered was with scheduling. We found that our best day of the week to go to Tiger Canyon was Friday, but sicknesses and weather delayed the time we were able to spend up there. Because of the hour-long drive to and from the canyon, about five hours needed to be set aside for the trips. This also added to difficulty in planning, but a few good trips came out of it. This resulted in limited time to spend on the internship, and that is the only regret I have. It took us much longer than anticipated to set up the transects, and therefore left little time for anything else. We could have expanded our research together by doing soil samples and experimenting with a new computer program that Larry was trying to figure out. Also, when Larry received the grant, our goals and objectives had to adapt to making the Task Order Form, changing the original intentions of the internship.
However, this experience was fulfilling and rewarding despite the setbacks that occurred. We are both pleased with the finished project, and Larry is grateful that I was there to assist, as the transects go much smoother with two people to set up. I have learned so much about how the Forest Service works, and what kind of jobs I can apply for. I have become comfortable with the Forest Service personnel and had fun in my time with them. I have learned what it entails to monitor vegetation and what purpose a transect serves in that process. I have learned about noxious weeds and the impact they have on natural vegetation and wildlife. I can now easily recognize Yellow Starthistle and Dalmatian Toadflax in the wild and am amazed at how overtaking and increasingly dispersing they are. I will be able to use everything I have learned with Larry Frank to find a job that interests me in this field.