What a time it’s been. I’ve finally successfully adopted my 6:30 wake-up call, gotten my much-delayed personal identity verification card (which grants access to the park’s data store of years bygone), and gotten into the groove of day-to-day tasks and happenings. All of this just in time to wrap up my Valley Forge internship. As the park is only three hours away from home, I’m already making tentative plans to come back and do some volunteer work involving deer culling and necropsies this winter
I’ve been exposed to a variety of conservation management practices–to more plant and invertebrate identification and management than I ever thought I would be. I’ve always been interested in larger animals, especially mammals, but I have a newfound appreciation for the small critters and detritivores that are so incredibly diverse and utterly ubiquitous in nature. If there is one thing that this internship has shown me, it’s that specialization of interest should only be established once you’ve seen a wider range of organisms and professional subfields. You might just fall in love with work that was previously on the fringes of your interest. In this way it’s also important to understand the strong and infinitely complex interconnectivities between all organisms and their physical environment.
I’m writing this shortly after meeting a handful of fellow Mosaics interns for our Colorado workshop and it’s already clear that we had wildly varying experiences and focuses. I must say, I still plan on studying megafauna, but I’m glad to have seen so many forms of natural resource work firsthand. I’ll definitely miss my time at Valley forge–even the countless spiderwebs I’ve stumbled into face first, the countless ticks I’ve found looking for cheap real estate in my hair, and the many mosquitoes I’ve unknowingly given blood donations to.