It’s official! The temperatures have plummeted and plants have senesced for the year, so the field season has come to a close. For the permanent staff here at IAE, one of the greatest (and hardest) parts of our job is getting to know, (and then say goodbye to) the phenomenal people that serve as our seasonal field crew. The Institute for Applied Ecology relies on interns, seasonal staff and volunteers to complete projects in the field, greenhouse and office. The Conservation Research Program usually enlists 1-2 crew leaders, 2-4 IAE/NPSO interns, and 1 high school ASE intern, who are invaluable to the program, especially during the busy field season. With the ending of the field season, we have said goodbye to our remaining seasonal additions, Tara Callaway and Emma MacDonald.
Emma “Southwind” MacDonald was one of two 2014 IAE/NPSO interns that began in early April. Emma quickly proved herself as an important part of the 2014 CR Crew, with an honest, hard-working attitude that will make you smile. She had recently graduated from Portland State University with a B.S. in Environmental Science and Management as well as a minor in Biology and was looking to gain plant conservation experience. Having been a Wilderness Park Ranger at Olympic National Park the prior summer, she came to IAE with extensive backcountry experience and a strong enthusiasm to learn as much as she could about plants. During her time at IAE, she has helped on over fifteen field projects, conducting research in all corners of the state. Emma’s love for the natural world was contagious and she was an excellent naturalist inspiring interest in all of nature’s curiosities- including but certainly not limited to- fungi, mammal tracks, plants and birds. She will be remembered for her excitement for strange looking insects, particularly one named Jebediah (see photo below), and her sassy sense of humor. Emma will be missed extremely because of her spunky personality, and positive ‘can-do’ attitude (even when poison oak is touching her face!). We wish her luck in her future endeavors and look forward to hearing about all the great adventures she will go on!
It is also that sad time of year when we have to say goodbye to our 2014 Crew Leader, Tara Callaway. Tara came to us with a B.S. in Biology from Northern Illinois University as well as an M.S. in Plant Biology from Western Washington University. Tara also worked for the National Park Service as a naturalist/interpretive ranger at both Joshua Tree and Mount Rainier National Parks. She is an avid outdoorswoman and spent many weekends this summer climbing at Smith Rock and elsewhere. Aside from leading many of our field projects (including coordinating supplies, rental cars, overnight accommodations, and wrangling interns and volunteers), Tara also analyzed heaps of data and wrote many of this year’s reports.
Tara also made it to the winner’s podium at our first ever IAE Field Olympics last August. At this grueling competition of physical ability and mental stamina Tara’s mean haggis hurling abilities and speed in the relay race landed her second place overall. Her strong arm comes from all her rock-climbing adventures as well as a summer of whipping the interns into shape (no interns were actually harmed ((by Tara)) during the 2014 field season).
Tara’s strong will, levelheadedness, positive outlook, and ability to persevere for the sake of the project made her a superb crew leader. One particular memory is from one of our trips to Roseburg to monitor Kincaid’s lupine. Vague directions took us down an unmarked driveway, which led us to the property of some very unfriendly residents. As the interns were imagining all the horror movies they had seen with a similar beginning, Tara calmly explained to the suspicious residents that we were lost and we’d be on our way. Tara wins a gold medal for getting us out of that one. We will also miss Tara’s Midwestern vocabulary lessons. No one here will ever refer to changing into pajamas ever again, this office “gets baggy” instead.
Even though the 2014 field season is over, many great memories were made that will rank this among the best jobs ever! We were all fortunate to spend a summer outside rain-or-shine, hiking around the hills and mountains of Oregon searching for rare and endangered plants.