Growing Among the Plants

Growing Among the Plants

Photo of myself halfway to Sourdough Lookout!

This season there has been a lot of growth. Not only by the plants here at the native plant restoration program, but myself too. I have expanded current skills, and gained new ones. I have learned more about potential career paths. But most importantly, I have realized that this is the field where I want to dedicate my life to in some way, shape, or form.

Reflecting on this summer so far, I thought it would be fun to share some of these new skills! I came into this internship with no expectations, other than to learn as much as I could, and this internship did not disappoint. 


Obviously this position is focused around horticultural skills, which I did not have much experience in. I tried gardening when I was younger, but placed the gardening bed where the hose didn’t reach. Being a middle schooler, it was way too much work to haul watering can after watering can, so that garden failed almost immediately. After that, I didn’t do much gardening until this summer! The unique thing about this position is that we are growing native plant species. I am sure there are some similar techniques that can be transferred between growing native plants and just growing species for fun, food, or ornamental purposes, but some of these native plants have been tricky to grow! That is okay though, it just gives an extra complexity to this process, and it’s been fun to get to learn about those processes.

Tall Oregon Grape (Mahonia aquifolium) seedlings in the shade bed.

New Skills

  • Usage of soil sterilizer
  • Distinguish mature seeds for harvest
  • Plant cutting for propagation
  •  Native plant identification
  • Proper watering technique
  • Water irrigation management
  • Identification of weeds and non-native species

Not only was everything new to me, but there was also a lot of development for the native plant nursery too! Just looking at a photo I took earlier this season, and comparing it to now is pretty spectacular! 

On the right: The shade bed area when I arrived before getting the new shade structure.

On the left: The shade bed area currently! Look at all that growth! 

Rangers practicing helicopter rope suspension

Search and Rescue


Within the last couple of weeks, I was able to put that Search and Rescue Training Course to the test. If you have not read my second blog: What’s up, Buttercup, I mentioned being able to partake in a Search and Rescue (SAR) course where I learned the basic steps of a SAR and implemented those steps on a practice scenario here at the park. I feel that the training definitely helped me when the real SAR was needed. I plan to continue to grow these new skills and help with other SARs in the future. 

New Skills

  • Assembly and disassembly of litter for carry out
  • Basic patient packaging
  • Usage of litter
  •  Proper radio communication
  • Understanding of Incident Command System and National Incident Management System
  •  Time-critical risk assessments using GAR model
Clark's Nutcracker on a Whitebark Pine. Photo credit: Jim Henterly/NPS

WhiteBark Pine and Blister Rust

Although we did not get to go on the planned backpacking trips to identify blister rust and collect data for the whitebark pine surveys, we did participate in a class to distinguish blister rust on these trees. Blister rust is a fungus that is killing whitebark pine trees. The goal was to gather data on whitebark pine stands that were surveyed back in the year 2000 and compare the population size to now. The study is hoping to find whitebark pine trees that are showing some resilience to the blister rust. Hopefully the team can go survey the sites they need, but it looks like it will be highly unlikely this year due to the fires nearby. This project is with the North Coast and Cascades Inventory and Monitoring Network. 


New Skills

  • Identifying the signs and symptoms of blister rust
    • Flagging
    •  Cankers
    • Swelling
    • Oozing sap
  • Identifying signs and symptoms of Mountain Pine Beetle
    • Frass
    • Pitch
    • J-shaped gallery
  • Familiarization on gathering tree data
    • DBH
    • Using rangefinder
    • Calculating azimuth
Orange blister-like spores along a whitebark pine branch. Photo credit: NPS
Bright yellow/red needles on branches indicate infection which cause a "flagging" effect. Photo credit: NPS
Swelling on a dead whitebark pine branch. Photo credit: NPS


Thinking back on this summer thus far, it amazes me how quickly I can pick up new capabilities.  Highlighting a couple above makes me realize how much development has transpired these last 17 weeks. I am excited to see what these last 3 weeks have in store!

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