My internship involved putting together Native Plant Restoration Photo Albums for the US Forest Service. The people in the office were friendly, and the work was not very difficult. My initial goal was to put the second year (follow-up) photos behind the initial ones, in an album documenting three road sites. Each road had one or two camera points with two to four viewpoints each. I had to match the initial picture with the second year picture in a file on the computer. I would then transfer the photo to the Microsoft Publisher file containing the already formatted initial pictures, and insert the retakes. I adjusted the sizing, and added a bit of text to each picture I inserted. Then I printed the pictures, put them in cover slips, and filed them in a binder.
It was not difficult to create a new page for the picture; the challenge
was in matching the second year photo with the corresponding initial photo.
A location looks very different with a year’s new growth and a year of
weathering. Small twigs and rocks that appear in the initial picture may no
longer be there. If they are there, the new vegetation may be hiding them. Betsy
Kaiser, the woman in charge of my work, was very willing to help me match the
photos when it was ambiguous.
I completed the photo albums for those three roads, and I created a photo album with the initial pictures for the Jarboe/Brock Riparian Habitat Restoration Project. The Jarboe/Brock Project was a little more fun than the four roads because I had more freedom with the page layout. I did not have to rely on rulers to match someone else’s sizing and positioning of the picture on the page. Betsy and I decided to make the pictures bigger, and it made it easier for me to be consistent in the layout. Also, by this time I was more familiar with the computer program; I could navigate through the endless series of files without much frustration. Thus, this work was more enjoyable.
After I finished with the Jarboe/Brock photos I scanned pictures from three other sites to create a photo album for them. This project was a little challenging because I had to have separate computer albums for the landscape and the portrait pictures I scanned. Also, there were multiple years of retakes for some pictures and none for others. It was a little confusing trying to keep all the files straight, but it was good in that it was more intellectually stimulating. I had to solve the problems on my own because the scanner was in a different room, and it was not as easy to ask Betsy questions.
I also had to transcribe field notes, but that was not difficult once I got used to the form. In all the work I did for Betsy the forms on the computer directly matched the ones I was given with the hand written data taken in the field. However, after finishing my work for Betsy I did a little work for Kathy Campbell, and that was not so simple. She gave me several different forms with information, and then I had to type the information into the form I had been using before. Again, as with Betsy, when I wasn’t sure about how to do something Kathy was very willing to help me.
Shortly before my internship ended, I was able to go out into the field with Betsy, Kathy, and the other Whitman Interns. We went to Jarboe/Brock Meadow and saw the riparian habitat restoration efforts. This trip gave a whole new meaning to my internship. It was incredible to see the things I had seen in the pictures, the exact photo points, and at the same time hear the flow of the stream, and feel the crisp wind. Also, in the pictures it had been very difficult to see the trees, and when I had worked on that album I hadn’t even known that the protective cages contained hardwoods. The field trip allowed me to see and better understand the types of projects done by the Forest Service, and it was wonderful to be outside.
The photo albums I have been creating serve several different purposes. They are a form of documentation, which allows the Forest Service to determine the value and success of their work. It also shows what didn’t work and how they can improve. In this case they can compare the effectiveness of different planting methods and seed types on the restoration of different terrains. The pictures may be used for educational purposes or at conferences. The photos may be shown to people who have given money to the project, so they can see what their generosity has achieved. Having both the initial and follow up photos can provide a stronger message, and yields much more feedback than simply having one set of pictures.
In the future, someone will need to put the most recent photo retakes into the albums. I suggest that the future intern ask about the pictures they are organizing, and not just mindlessly add them to the album. I wish that I had been given something to read about the Native Plant Restoration Project. As it happened, I had very little knowledge of what I was doing until I found a poster about the project on my second to last day in the office. That helped, but even more information would have been appreciated.
This internship was not terribly exciting or challenging, but I have
learned some valuable computer skills. I learned how to use Microsoft Publisher.
I learned how to use the computer to manipulate the image slightly, making it
clearer and better lit before inserting it into the Microsoft Publisher album.
Also, I have become more comfortable navigating through and accessing multiple
files at once. By filling out the forms, I learned a few new tricks in Microsoft
Word. My computer skills were horribly limited in the first place, so for most
people the computer experience would probably not be personally beneficial,
but for me it definitely was.
I feel that I have benefited from my exposure to the Forest Service in many ways besides gaining computer experience. Working with the native plant pictures taught me a little about the progress that can be expected in such a restoration project. The Jarboe/Brock photos taught me how to identify pictures based on their verbal description in the field notes. I have learned about how the Forest Service goes about documenting its projects. Also, I have been fortunate enough to simply look at the pictures, and to see the beauty and diversity in Walla Walla.
The work was worthwhile because if I hadn’t done it Betsy would
have had to, and she is already extremely busy. She would probably have done
it more quickly, but as she said, if it were left up to her the albums probably
wouldn’t have gotten finished until the night before they were needed.
I spent 3 to 3 1/2 hours a week actually in the office working. It is a 10-15
minute bike ride to get to the Forest Service office. There were no real problems,
except biking in the rain was not much fun.
This internship was valuable for me because it improved my computer skills, I learned a bit about the USFS, and it allowed me to personally grow. It forced me to leave my comfort zone and experience a bit of the real world. I was definitely intimidated when I first began my internship, and honestly, by the end I was still worried about making mistakes. However, I think I have grown from the experience. Despite feeling unsure of myself at times, I enjoyed the project, and I believe that is largely due to the friendliness of Betsy Kaiser and Kathy Campbell.