My hope is that this blog will help the Refuge Technicians that come after me to hit the ground running and get a better feel for the people, and the work of a Refuge Technician at Conboy Lake National Wildlife Refuge (CLNWR).
Figure 1.0: Trevor in his natural environment
The majority of the work here involves setting fyke nets to study the aquatic vertebrates of CLNWR and protect the endangered Oregon Spotted Frog. There are over 20 unique sites where you will need to set your fyke nets. In addition to this there are frequent opportunities to gain a variety of experience valuable to your professional development.
Tips and Tricks
Problem 1: You feel like you aren’t making a difference.
Solution 1: Working for AmeriCorps through the Mt. Adams Institute has changed my life. This experience has given me a great sense of pride in both my country and its natural spaces. Each invasive predator that I remove helps this nation’s threatened and endangered species, and I feel that I am making an impact. I have found that a fulfilling and happy life can be found through service to others. Many people before me paved a way for me through their service and I am glad to have contributed to the legacy of the Civilian Conservation Corps and AmeriCorps.
Problem 2: It took Joe and I a while before we felt we knew our way around the refuge. We made mistakes and on one occasion set fyke nets in the wrong location!
Figure 1.1: Sara and I on a mower w/ Mt. Adams behind.
Solution 2: Good communication! Speak with Sara McFall (Biologist) or Trevor Sheffels (Refuge Manager) to make sure you understand where the nets are to be set! Do not be afraid to have them drive you to the sites beforehand. Trevor is the new refuge manager at Conboy, he started a few months after our term began and since has become a friend and a valuable resource. Sara is a wonderful character, she’s unflinchingly direct, possesses a wonderful sense of humor, and is always smiling.
Problem 3: So you have made it to the site, that’s good, but now it seems you are missing a piece of rebar to set your nets with. Time to drive back to the shop or pull it from another site close by, right? WRONG.
Solution 3: Simply hold your polyvinyl chloride pipe over a soft squishy part of the bank or canal and apply (with vigor) approximately 450 Newtons of force with your hammer to the top. Repeat as needed until the post stands firm in the soil. VOILA, now you have saved yourself an hour or more and this fix will hold until you return in the morning.
Figure 2.0: This Oregon Spotted Frog, this good, they friends.
Figure 2.1: This is a picture I took that I am proud of. Spend 15-30 seconds admiring it. Wonderful, you have just experienced art!
Problem 4: You are surely a master of setting fyke nets after learning the solutions to problems 1 and 2 but just in case you need one more bit of sage advice I’ll throw in a bonus cause I like you, kid. Right, so you wake up in the morning to find that your hands are wet and freezing and you just cannot for the life of you figure out how to undo the tangled mess you call a knot. Fret knot, your salvation awaits knot far below.
Problem 5: Your fried egg just doesn’t quite fit on your breakfast sandwich, or you’re too broke to afford eggs!
Solution 5: The federal government has come to save the day! Since AmeriCorps is a national service program, your stipend does not count as income in the eyes of the government. Simply drive down to the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) office at 221 N. Main Ave, White Salmon, WA 98672 with your ID, and that little piece of paper that Mt. Adams Institute has graciously printed off for you. Be prepared for them to call your previous employer if you have been working in the past 6 months, they will ask for your last paycheck and the date and will need to verify it with your employer. One of the Top 3 best decisions I ever made while in this program was signing up for EBT. It saves you loads of monies so you can survive on the stipend. Now head to the grocery store and stock up on food! On the off chance you simply do not like breakfast sandwiches then head into the White Salmon Baking Company just down the street from the Social Services office and have a snack in the park across the street before you head out.
Figure 3.1: You’re welcome.
Congratulations! Now that you have completed Greg Hendricks’s Guide to Working as a Refuge Technician at Conboy Lake NWR, Tips and Tricks, you are ready to start your position and Excel (they actually use Microsoft Access here). Just remember you do not actually have to even tie a knot, simply looping the cinch string around the T post is usually enough to keep the net floating happily (Solution 4). Cheers, and remember to get your pets spayed and neutered folks.