Follow Me: SCA member blogs from the field

Follow Me is the place to read field dispatches from SCA members serving the planet all over the USA.

Picture, if you will, the site of a forest two years after a wild fire. In my mind’s eye, the scene is dotted with burned out pine hulks and heaps of ash, but is dominated by green undergrowth and leafy seedlings. While this might be consistent with the sites of eastern and northwestern blazes, fires in dry climates leave a different, more permanent, impact on the landscape.

Joshua Tree Photo © Jarek Tuszynski / Wikimedia Commons

After walking into the baggage claim area of Palm Springs Airport, I knew from the heap of camping equipment that greeted me that my spring break had begun. I introduced myself to Tyler, our group coordinator, and was shortly on the road to Joshua Tree with seven other students.

The Alternative Spring Break to the Everglades changed my life in so many ways. Not only did I meet an amazing group of people who I made real, lasting connections with, I learned about an ecosystem so unique and different than what I had ever experienced before.

The Everglades is a beautiful place and the national park really shows the diversity of the area.

Photos by Erika Barker

We worked at Lake Chekika yesterday, clearing brush and invasive plant species like the Brazilian Pepper Tree. We worked so hard the rangers had to kick us out—we were tiring them out! It was a good thing though because the pepper tree has overtaken the park and the native plant species.

Photos by Erika Barker

Two days have passed so far and I find myself more in love with this beautiful diverse ecosystem than ever before. I have never seen skies so blue or a sun so bright in my life.

If you’re in New York this month, make sure to check out this awesome Alternative Spring Break billboard at the American Eagle Outfitters store in Times Square. The 15,000 square foot LED display will run images from Alternative Spring Break four times per hour for the entire month of March. Thanks to American Eagle Outfitters for giving us some bright lights in the big city!

SCA and American Eagle Outfitter’s Alternative Spring Break kicked off yesterday with the arrival of 30 excited crew members at Everglades National Park! Over the next four weeks, 120 college students will be working in the Everglades and at Joshua Tree National Park to conserve some of the country’s most beautiful and endangered wild areas.

Washington, DC (PRWEB) February 29, 2012
The Teton Mountains. The Mojave Desert. The Everglades. These are not your typical Spring Break destinations. Then again, these are not your typical students.
Volunteers from colleges and universities across the U.S.

Grand opening is now over. The dignitaries have come and gone and we emerged basically unscathed from the hurricane. Now that things have calmed down enough to write a new blog the utter insanity of the last week comes into even better focus.

The first major hurdle that came up was all of the crap in the basement of our education building.

Art, education, and community made a comeback at the Prairie Wetlands Learning Center this weekend. It was “Return to Prairie Days” (a Fergus Falls Signature Event, proclaims the town’s event calendar), bringing students, artists, locals and outsiders to the refuge for a pageant, duck banding, butterfly tagging, and prairie planting.

Generally, when we think of science we think of lab coats and test tubes. Sparkling, sterile laboratories where PhDs churn out new truths. At least when it comes to most environmental sciences this is not the case. While a large part of science will always take place in the lab, it has to start in the field.

One of my goals for working an SCA internship this summer was to immerse myself in wilderness.

Captures are the most interesting part of this job, and the best opportunity to improve wildlife field skills. We have done a few captures in the last two weeks. I was involved with two of them, Yellow 70 and Orange 66.

Yellow 70 was a 7-year old male bear that we put a radio collar on. And we finally captured bear 3565.

WOW! I cannot believe it has been a YEAR since I packed my bags, left the great state of Texas, and moved to Maryland to begin my SCA adventure at the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park.

Time really does fly by when you’re constantly learning, engaging in new activities, and truly enjoying your job.

Some weeks you’ve got to move boxes. Moving is one of those inevitably dreadful tasks that we all must undertake throughout our lives. It gets even more interesting when the stuff your moving isn’t yours and the stuff was packed by yet another person. That’s the situation we’ve been in this week up at Schoodic. Unfortunately the construction up here took longer than planned.

Monarch week has begun at Prairie Wetlands Learning Center! Four generations of monarchs have hatched this summer from their eggs on Minnesota’s milkweeds. The generation, which will be winging it to Mexico and other wintering sites, have emerged from their chrysalis on the prairie. Dozens can easily be found flitting from flower to flower as they fatten up on nectar before their flight.

Climbing Mount McKinley: The Program

The program was developed by an SCA intern a few years ago. It included a simulation of climbing Mount McKinley. One of the interpretation coaches wrote up her program into a “template” so that it could be presented by other interpreters after she left. The template was further developed last year by another SCA intern and a seasonal interpretation ranger.

The Minnesota Waterfowl Association’s annual Woodie Camp is taking place here at the Prairie Wetlands Learning Center. For the first time this summer, the Center is abuzz with activity. Its dorms filled with campers, counselors and instructors. The campers are 13-15 year olds with an interest and some experience with waterfowl hunting.

Today we had the end of season barbeque where each department presents what they’ve accomplished for the year. I presented the brood survey portion of the power point. It was a pretty good feeling to share all that we’ve done this summer.

Base camp is where climbers begin their climb on Mount McKinley, the tallest mountain in North America at 20,320 ft. Base camp is at 7,200 ft on the Kahiltna Glacier. Denali National Park and Preserve Mountaineering Rangers from the Talkeetna Ranger Station are camped here during the climbing season from late April until early July.

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