Thus far, my work as the “Woody Plants” intern has been relatively different from what I originally expected. Initially, I believed that the internship would consist primarily of me walking around the Matthaei Botanical Garden and Nichols Arboretum spaces and documenting a variety of different trees species and their locations. I would then enter these observations into an online system (or some other media) for visitors to see. Though this would have been a great help towards my goal of bettering my plant identification skills, I can not help but think that it would have gotten a little repetitive after a while. Furthermore, aside from basic computer skills, I possess a relatively shallow amount of experiences with the “ArcGIS” mapping program, so becoming accustomed to the caliber of work may have been difficult. Luckily, however, this was not the case. As opposed to working with computers, most of my work has consisted of completing outdoor tasks such as maintaining and felling trees, repairing damaged trails, and trimming/spraying invasive plant species with herbicides. In spite of these differences, however, I have still been able to further my knowledge of plant identification. Due to my position being heavily focused on the comparison of “invasive vs native,” I essentially have to know the plants and their growth patterns in order to perform successfully. Identifying plants is actually pretty fun; especially when you can use your skills to impress friends and family outside of work!
I have worked in positions dealing with the environment since I was in high school, so the internship has not provided too many surprises. However, the thought of learning how to drive and proper operate utility vehicles around the work spaces was definitely unexpected. Coming in on the first day, I believed that most of the vehicles were off limits to interns. During my time with the SCA (Student Conservation Association), my crew members and I were often driven to our intended work site by our “crew leaders” who had to have gone through a variety of different trainings before hand. Jumping right into the controls and handling really lit a spark inside me; it showed me that we were now considered adults and would be treated as such over the course of the summer. The way in which we complete our tasks are unconditional, just as long as they are done safely and legally. My experience as the Woody Plants intern has been great so far and I hope that it continues to be in the future.