Crane Festival 2015: Tour at the Blanca Wetlands

This weekend was the 2015 Crane Festival! At the festival this year they provided a signup sheet to take a tour and go birding at the Blanca Wetlands with Lead Biologists Jill Lucero and Sue Swift-Miller. I was asked to join the tour and help Jill and Sue with presenting and educating the people on the tour. We were told that our tour filled up in a matter of minutes! I was thrilled to hear this. It shows that people are interested in the wetlands program and are excited to learn more about the Blanca Wetlands and our birds.
We took 18 people out to tour and bird the Blanca Wetlands. Members of our tour ranged in birding experience anywhere from very experienced birders to first time birders and everywhere in between. The ages of our tour members were just as diverse, we had some youth members that were about 14 years old and a married couple in their 80s! It was so much fun to spend time with people who are so interested in the work that you do. It was an amazing experience and we all had so much fun that our tour actually went a couple hours later than it was expected to because everyone was enjoying themselves so much. While out birding on Pond 46 one of our tour members made an outstanding bird identification. She Identified the second Long Tailed Duck to be Identified in the SLV!!
It was an amazing experience going out to the wetlands with birders of all levels. It was nice to see that everyone really enjoyed themselves and were making plans to return to Blanca Wetlands at a later date. This trip to the wetlands really got me excited to get more groups of people out there to enjoy all that it has to offer.

Swimming in Mud!

Over the years I have met some outstanding people and made some unforgettable memories.  A memory from last summer that stands out to me the most is when a SCC youth crew came to the Blanca Wetlands to help eradicate russian olives. This was a multiple day project and the students definitely worked hard. On their last day at Blanca Wetlands we wanted to show them what Macroinvertebrate surveys were, how they’re performed, and teach them about the importance behind the work we do as Wildlife Biological Technicians. After giving the students a quick lesson on what we do, we led them into the pond. They all got royally stuck in the knee high, stinky, gooey mud. They were trying so hard to follow Portland and I out to the waters edge, but they did not know the technique for walking in the mud the way that we did. We were all laughing so hard it was difficult to stand up. We tried helping each other and all ended up falling in the mud. Some of the students were army crawling to get out of the mud! As you can imagine, it was absolutely hilarious watching this! We were all covered head to toe and had to wash off in a fish pond before getting back into the vehicles.
Working with the youth of our community is extremely important to me. I enjoy teaching them new things, working side by side with them, but most importantly I like listening to their stories. We have an amazing group of students here in the San Luis Valley. I have experienced first hand how dedicated they are to their work and their eagerness to learn. I feel the reason, for the moment I described above, standing out to me more than any other day of that summer is because I got to really know the students. I saw how they worked hard each and everyday out in the hot sun. I enjoyed listening to their ideas, dreams, and how enthusiastic they are about their futures. That muddy afternoon was not just about work and learning, but it was also about finding joy in the things that do not go exactly as planned. We wanted to get to the waters edge and take Macro samples, and we thought it would only take a couple of minutes, but instead it turned into an event that highlighted my summer. It was very therapeutic to sit in the mud and laugh with the students after a long, difficult day of work. Memories like this allow me to really enjoy and appreciate the work that I do. Not only do we help our environment, but we have amazing people around us to make that difficult work more enjoyable.

Yay! I’m Back

I’m extremely excited to be back with Environment for the Americas. I had an amazing experience interning with EFTA in 2013 and I am very proud to be a returning intern. When I was informed that the internship training was going to be held in San Diego, CA this year I was excited to go birding in such a new and amazing place. The warm weather California has to offer this time of year was also rather enticing since the San Luis Valley was covered in a couple of feet of snow.

The San Diego, CA shorebird training was an awesome experience. It was really neat to see how the EFTA shorebird training program has evolved and improved over the last two years. Even though this was my second shorebird training I have participated in, I still found the information they presented to us extremely helpful. It was amazing to work alongside so many people who truly have a passion for what they do, our environment, and the wildlife. EFTA interns are always some of the best people I have met. I was an EFTA intern in 2013, I worked alongside the SLV EFTA interns from last year and I could not be happier to work with the interns of 2015. I cannot wait to see what new and exciting opportunities this summer to brings us!