This is my first time working for a nonprofit conservation organization, and I don’t intend for it to be my last. I have already learned a great deal in the short 7 weeks since I started my internship at HFF, and the time has gone by much faster than I anticipated. I begin classes at school this week for my final semester before graduation this December. Luckily, since I am a local, I will continue to work at HFF while I finish my schooling.
While I’ve always loved the outdoors and spent my fair share of time floating rivers, I’ll be honest and admit I haven’t had much experience fishing. So it wasn’t until I came to HFF that I heard the phrase ‘fish ladder.’ You can imagine my confusion as to why fish would need a ladder. But after learning that it is simply a series of pools built like steps to enable fish to bypass a dam or waterfall, it made more sense. One of my jobs is to remove the massive amounts of uprooted macrophytes that get stuck in the fish ladder, potentially blocking the fish from passing through during their migration.
I had my first experience with herding cows. Part of my internship is making sure that the cows keep out of the riparian zone along two stretches of fencing that HFF monitors. If they get through the fence somewhere then I herd them back over to their side and repair the fence. I now know the difference between an H post and a T post. Also, the frequency of my hammer actually hitting the nail rather than the post I’m trying to nail it into has significantly increased, so that’s a plus.
Perhaps my favorite ‘first’ was learning all about the water quality program and going out in the field to take water samples and download data from our sondes – instruments that record different data points such as dissolved oxygen, turbidity, temperature, conductivity, etc – located in rivers throughout the watershed. The views along the river that I get to witness every week have been breathtaking.
I went on my first farm tour. Where we learned about the innovative techniques farmers are using to better conserve resources where possible. Surprisingly, though, it was not the first time I had ridden the red double decker bus we took on the tour.
It was probably my fifth time hiking the Darby Canyon wind cave trail when I went with another intern this summer. It was, however, my first time going back past the large entrance of the cave into the tiny twists and turns further along that have you army crawling and feeling like you can’t move more than an inch in any direction. It always opened back up though, and left us laughing with exhilaration and discovery.
As the weather continues to cool, I'm ready to bring on the Fall of firsts!