After ten days of training in Carnation, our crew finally arrived in Nashville! It was bittersweet for everyone to leave the comfort and beauty of the River Ranch Girl Scout camp, but it felt great to finally be in our new home. We spent a day or two getting familiar with the area and organizing our belongings. Brenna and Erica made a shelf for their room out of a large cardboard box. Their craft made everyone smile, though wagers have been made on just how long the box can remain to be called a shelf! We spent a day at Old Hickory Beach (one of our survey sites) getting some Tennessee sun and getting a feel for the type of spaces will be surveying over the season. Over the weekend the group made a trip downtown to get to know the city better. I can sum up our visit with two words: neon lights! Nashville’s reputation for music did not fail to deliver as our ears were buzzing from band after band playing into the night.
Meredith Bridgers, who trained the crew in Washington, arrived that Sunday to figure out a game plan for the site visits that would take place in the days to follow. The site visits were a way to familiarize ourselves with the areas and decide on the best locations to set up our traﬃc control. J. Percy Priest was the first lake we went to. It was a long day! There was lots of driving and nothing too exciting in between, but we were beginning to get into the rhythm of a survey day. The next day our crew made the haul to our farthest sites at Cordell Hull and Dale Hollow. Everyone soaked up the rolling landscape as we drove the two hours east towards the Appalachians and claimed favorites on these deeper lakes. We spent half the day at the Pleasant Grove site on Dale Hollow Lake swimming underneath a footbridge that stretches 100 feet across from the mainland to an island that used to be a campground. We heard that this was a favorite spot of the locals and we could see why. The next two days we finished up all visits at Cheatam and Old Hickory Lake and were feeling ready and excited to begin surveys. Our week of site visits was done! Meredith came over Friday and brought everyone ice cream as a thank you for work we would put in over the season.
After recovering from our ice cream sugar comas, the first day out surveying finally began June 13th. We have 3 separate teams that are each responsible for 6 sites. Everyone was happy to get out in the field and actually do what we came here to do. One thing is for sure, people in Tennessee love to fish and they love their lakes! It wasn’t long before all the teams became familiar with the survey and were able to run through them smoothly and confidently. In the short time that we have been out in the field, we have had sunshine, rain, busy days, slow days, friendly chatty Cathy’s, and disgruntled grumpy visitors. We have gotten a few folks that drive past all of the traﬃc control setup and don’t give so much as a look as they drive by and a few that want to know if we are hiring. On days when it is slow my partner reads aloud excerpts of memoirs from a book. Then, I do feel pretty lucky to have this job! Overall it has been really nice to converse with the people of Tennessee this first week and the team is looking forward to more of it.
Written by Stephanie Deckman and Sam Cox