I can’t believe my 6 week field season is over. I’ve went on my last field day, collected my last sample, and said my goodbye-for-nows. Elizabeth, Zac, and Ainsley still have a couple of weeks to go, but Annika and I have had our last day for the summer. Going into the field season, I thought that I’d just learn about bears and the DNA we collect from their hair, but I’ve learned so much more than that in these short six weeks.
I’ve learned what gear you need for hiking through the woods, that verbal games like listing all the animals you can name (a lot, I’ve learned), talking, and listening to music can make longer walks seem short. I’ve learned how to put up flagging, how to fix fencing, and how to tie a loop knot. I’ve learned that in order to pull out hairs effectively from the barbs, it’s more helpful to pay attention to how the hair got stuck, and pull it off in the opposite direction accordingly (not the same way or it will get more stuck).
This experience has taught me a lot about nature in Massachusetts, about being safe in the wild, and about field work, but I’ve probably learned the most from the people I work with. I’ve learned how to identify some of the plants, insects, and fungi that call Massachusetts their home from Zac, things I had always just passed by, but now I feel I understand more clearly.
Ghost pipes, which sap nutrients and carbohydrates from tree roots
I’ve learned about how to cross streams and beaver dams from Elizabeth, perhaps not as gracefully, but there’s definitely a small feeling of victory when you cross a body of water without getting wet.
Photo credit to Zac
I’ve learned about just how many edible things there are out in the forest from Annika. And I’ve learned about how to walk in the woods safely without getting so many spiderwebs on me using a spider stick, as well as yelling to alert wild animals that we’re passing through from Ainsley.
I’ve learned from them how to take any challenges that arise in stride, with a joke, quick thinking, and determination.
It’s been an incredibly fun experience to go on adventures and experience the beautiful Massachusetts wild with such amazing people and I’m looking forward to seeing everyone again in the fall!