Summer has begun to wind down here in Texas. As the weather gets hotter, the parks and beaches have slowed down a bit from our chart-topping frequency numbers of the first six weeks. We were interested to hear that our team frequency results from Texas and Massachusetts make us the busiest team but those hectic Saturday afternoons when it feels as if everyone in the state is at our survey location definitely feel like it.
Outside of surveying, our team has had a great couple weeks of interesting conservation-focused activities and relaxing summer fun. On July 26th we headed out to Waco Lake to do a deer count with Rangers Eric and Brad along with our fellow SCA interns working at the lake. After arriving at the Project Office at 8:30pm we headed out to Higginbotham and Flat Rock hunting areas. We spent the next few hours riding around in the bed of an off road vehicle shining hand-held spot lights at any shiny pair of deer eyes we could see. We only counted about a dozen deer but thoroughly enjoyed being out in the woods on a beautiful summer night.
The very next day all four of us had the day off so we decided to venture out to Tyler, Texas to see some very big cats. After a lengthy drive through central Texas we arrived at Tiger Creek Wildlife Refuge where we were greeted by a smiling intern and given a tour of the facility. Tiger Creek takes in abused, neglected, or displaced big cats giving them a safe place to live out the rest of their lives and providing interested visitors like us a chance to see and learn about them. Ania, our knowledgeable guide, introduced us to some of the tigers, lions, leopards, and bobcats that live at Tiger Creek before we were set free to wander around and gawk at the cats. Unfortunately, petting the cats is strongly discouraged.
For our next conservation day we headed down to Stillhouse Lake where we were given a tour of the Stillhouse dam and were able to explore some of the lake’s hiking trails. We learned about everything from how they open and shut the gates to the hourly visual inspections of the dam that the rangers have to do during flooding.
Most recently, team Texas enjoyed an afternoon of barbequing and swimming at Whitney Lake’s Lofers Bend camping area with a fellow SCA intern, Sean. After a morning of surveying, we met up with Sean at his campsite where we grilled up some burgers and kebobs and cooled off in Whitney Lake. All in all, a great summer day.
July has been a great month for us thus far. We’ve done many conservation projects at Westville Dam in Massachusetts. The projects range from building/restoring trails to pulling out debris (i.e. logs and various trash) from the water source that is entering the dam area. All the park rangers we’ve had the privilege of working with have been wonderful; they are all friendly, incredibly helpful, and welcoming. Our survey days have been going by really quickly, compared to the first few days. Since we have established ourselves at various locations, we have met many of the “regular” visitors who are glad to see us again. Being away from home and not knowing anyone here in New England, it is comforting to be able to see familiar faces and establish a good rapport with them.
Our off days have consisted of many great adventures, especially “big city” excursions. We rode on the T from Worcester to Boston because one of us had a job interview, so that was a new experience altogether. We had three days off, so we decided to explore New York City. That itself would probably be a highlight of our adventures. It is always so nice to see new places and meet new people, while learning the historical value of different locations and seeing famous buildings and monuments.
Once again, we are so grateful to have such a wonderful experience with SCA. Not only have we gained applicable hands-on skills by doing conservation projects, we have gained networking through the people we work with and people we survey, and the city adventures have served as a cherry on top.