Environmental Studies Internship Final Report
For my internship with the United States Forest Service, I am
responsible for creating an informational brochure about the native plant demonstration
garden at the Tollgate Visitor Center. Last October, a group from the USFS and
a group from the Youth Corp. dug up a portion of lawn in front of the visitor
center and planted ten different varieties of native plants. I was responsible
for creating a brochure that not only provides information about the ten different
native plants, but also tells about the planting process and the benefits of
During this internship, I have learned about the workings of the United States Forest Service. A lot of tension between different sectors of the organization seems to exist. I expected there to be a little more energy at the office, but instead the atmosphere was very relaxed and their processes very inefficient. I did not experience any tension firsthand, but I have a feeling that tension does exist but not within the group of people that I came into contact with. Overall, they were very supportive of my endeavors and were willing to aid me at any time. Money is a constant concern for them in terms of funding different projects. I was surprised to hear that they were going to be able to use a little bit of federal money to print my brochure. This federal agency definitely has a lot to offer to its employees.
There are many aspects of the USFS that really appealed to me. From talking to my mentor it seems common for someone to move around a lot and take on different positions. That movement, along with the chance to learn new things and the opportunity to have new responsibilities, are three things I am going to look for in my professional career. Also, the forest service truly does care for the land and attempts to do what is best for it, within the bounds of federal regulations and budgets. Because I am interested in working with environmental issues in the future, working for the Forest Service is a great potential employer.
Towards the end of my internship, I got the unique opportunity of going out in the field with my mentors. This was a valuable experience and allowed me to learn a lot about the Forest Service. During out field trip, Kathy, Betsy, three other interns and I went up to the Umatilla National Forest. While we were there, we saw a lot of the restoration projects that the other interns had been working on. Although we did not get a chance to see the native plant garden, the field trip was a valuable experience because I was able to see first hand the projects that the Forest Service works on. One of the most interesting realizations I had was that my mentors do not work in their office in Walla Walla all year long. They spend almost every day from May to October in the field doing hands on projects.
By far the most valuable portion of my internship has been learning about native plants. While I am living in Walla Walla, I want to learn as much as I can about the area. Having knowledge about local plants will serve me well in the future when I am hiking through southeast Washington and northeast Oregon. Also, this experience has helped me an appreciation for native plants that I never would have formed otherwise.
There were many aspects of my internship I really enjoyed. It was really nice to have a project that I got to start and finish. All I started with were the names of the ten native plants. I was responsible for deciding the layout, paper size, and the information to include. Another rewarding part of my internship was that at the end of my internship I am left with a final product. Since I was able to finish the brochure, I have concrete proof of all the work I did this semester. Unlike the other internships at the USFS, I did not have to come in the middle of the project. Because making the brochure for the native plant demonstration garden is a one-time process, I did not have to take up where someone else ended or leave the project unfinished.
My goals for the internship were to familiarize myself about the native plants of this region and to learn more about Microsoft Publisher in order to make a great brochure. I excelled in this project by making a map of the locations of the native plants and finding line drawings for all ten native plants. Also, my goal was to learn more about the USFS and what kind of things they do. My objectives were to make a 2 or 3-fold informational brochure about the native plants in the new restoration area of Tollgate Information Center. During the internship, I researched and wrote a brief biography of each plant—including the height, optimal conditions, where it grows, line drawings of the plants/flowers, and both the English and Latin names. In addition, I included information about the visitor center planting process. Finally, I made sure that the pamphlet meets the governmental format requirements.
All semester I have been going out to the USFS office on Rose once a week. In addition, I have been working on the brochure on campus. Between working around my tennis and class schedule and not having a car, finding time to go has been hard sometimes. My mentor has been very flexible about when I can come and letting me use her computer whenever I am there. I have been working on this internship 3 to 4 hours a week—2-3 hours at the USFS and 1-2 hours at home. It was my responsibility to finish the brochure by the end of the semester. A couple of weeks before the end of the semester I finished creating the brochure. Since then a lot of people at the Forest Service have looked over the brochure and edited it including Betsy, Kathy, the District Ranger, and Joanie. All of their advice was really helpful and I now believe to have a flawless brochure. During the editing process, I received both compliments and criticisms on my brochure. Along with revising the brochure, I have also worked to find the best way to publish the brochure. I called a couple of printing businesses in town and got price checks. In the end, I printed out 30 copies of the brochure on regular thickness, golden colored paper. These will hopefully be enough to put in the brochure display until they are able to get the thicker 11x17 paper that Kathy has at the SO (Supervisor’s Office) in Pendleton. I am not sure if they will get the thicker brochures printed at a printing place or if they will just photo copy them. Because the semester is over, I am going to leave the final copy with Betsy so that she can print out more in the future. Also, she is going to place the golden brochures at the Tollgate Visitor Information Center for the people who visit to have.
Before this semester, I was already fairly familiar with Microsoft Publisher. I am using a template that makes it so that I just have to input the information into the different panels. All of the technology, including the Internet, Microsoft Publisher, and scanner, has been working so far, which is very important because it is such a large part of the internship. So far, the researching and the creating of the brochure have been very interesting and not repetitive. Betsy has really helped me by providing a lot of resources.
The only problems and difficulties I had was finding info and line drawings of some of the more obscure native plants, trying to get some of the technology to work, and changing my map from a 8.5x11 format to a 11x17 format. Eventually, I was able to find solutions to all of my problems with the help of my mentor. The only other barrier was that the brochure had to be black and white, but I was able to do all that I envisioned even within these parameters.
For students making brochures in the future, I would suggest that they look at other brochures first to give them an idea of what sorts of things they can do. Also, I would advise them to make sure their mentor has given or told them about all of the possible resources before they start researching. My key contact has just been Betsy Kaiser. Kathy Campbell, the lady Betsy shares her office with, has also aided me in finding some information. Also, thanks to Joanie, the district’s Public Affairs Officer, for helping with revisions.