Public Lands Stewards: A Great Experience at Conboy Lake National Wildlife Refuge

by | Land Stewards

I am currently in the final month of this internship and I couldn’t have asked for a more adventurous summer. Emily and I have been thrown multiple curveballs this summer, from our manager having part of his finger cut off in a non-work related accident, to the wildlife biologist resigning last month in order to pursue her teaching career. When they say this job requires an easy-going demeanor and flexibility they mean it! Despite these things seeming like problems, it has actually been a fantastic growing experience. Thinking on your toes was a key ingredient. We both got really close to Sara (the wildlife biologist) and I am just glad that I could be there for her going away party, we even made her a cake that said, “See You Wader!” (seen in the photos below) Sara helped us learn and understand a wide variety of animal surveys, from elk to butterflies to owls and many others.

Trevor has been a fantastic boss, especially for putting up with all of our references to The Office. He has helped us pursue our interests, including bringing a freshwater mussel researcher to the refuge and allowing us to assist the researcher in the first freshwater mussel survey ever done on the refuge. This might not seem like a big deal to the average person, but invertebrates are some of my favorite animals so this felt like a big win to me. Trevor also helped supply Emily and I with the tools and materials for us to design our auditory bullfrog trap!

Emily has been the best person I could have asked to work with. She has been kind, considerate, and far more relatable than I thought a person from the other side of the country could have been. I think the biggest parts of our getting along have been that neither of us really cast judgement on anything, we only try to understand. This, combined with our shared love of dogs, cats, and baby cows, has allowed us to have in depth conversations about almost anything. We have had incredibly different childhoods and lived entirely separate lifetimes and we enjoy sharing those differences and working out how two sides of the same country can seem like foreign territories. We’ve been able to talk about that, as well as politics, science, religion, and our shared obsession with any TV show Gordon Ramsey is on. We will be leaving an instruction manual for next year’s interns here at Conboy.

None of this would be possible if it weren’t for the people at Mt. Adams Institute who have been just as kind. The emphasis put on finding a sense of place is only affirmed in the friendliness and helpfulness of the staff there. They have truly made me feel like part of a community that I couldn’t have imagined myself. I skipped my college graduation because I was excited to move out here and every moment has been worth it. I have held a lot of different jobs throughout high school and college and this was the first job I’ve had where I felt like a valued individual.

Thank you for everything.