If you need a translation, that literally means, “beaches in the Coloradan desert”. If you’re still confused, then it’s probably safe to assume that you have never visited the Blanca Wetlands outside of Alamosa, Colorado. Up until a few days ago I didn’t know something like “playas” existed. Sitting a few miles outside Alamosa in Southern Colorado, there lays a network of interconnected ponds – an oasis atop a rare water table within a closed basin all in the midst of farmland and sand dunes. This is where I will be spending my summer.
The wetlands are a unique stopover site for birds where there are over 200 ponds of freshwater, salt marshes and playas. Although there are 200+, they are more hidden than one would think. I was lucky enough to get a guided tour of the wetlands for my first visit from another intern, Anjelica. I hadn’t been in Alamosa more than 24 hours before I set off to discover the area I would be spending the next 6 months, and as we bumped along the 7 mile dirt road that led to the wetlands I was skeptical to say the least. Anjelica told me about the hundreds of thousands of shorebirds that would come through during the summer, the various fish ponds that held trout and blue gill, and the 45 wells that drew water across hundreds of acres. I couldn’t help but raise an eyebrow as we passed acre after desolate acre of short, scrubby brush and dense greasewood. How could this support any wildlife much less shorebirds? I continued to doubt the vastness of the wetlands right up until the truck crept over a final sand dune and nearly dumped us in the middle of a muddy shoreline.
It was as if the shallow rolling hills were keeping a secret just passed the horizon; water was suddenly everywhere. Every winding two-track road led us to another hidden body of water, and every turn put us right on top flocks of ducks, geese, coots – more birds than you could imagine. Being from New Mexico I have always been fascinated with water and can honestly say I have never seen a collection of water quite like what I saw in the Blanca Wetlands that day. Every pond had different surroundings, salinity, and scattered wildlife. In combination with an unreal snowy mountain backdrop, I was in awe for most of my tour 🙂 It was a lot to take in on my first day but I am incredibly excited to start learning about everything that this unusual habitat has to offer.
This is my farewell blog.
Today marks my last day for EFTA. Today was very much a tear jerker because it was the last day that I would trample the floor of the La Jara office of BLM. Today was the last day that I got to pick on all my forest friends and the day I turned in all my keys. It jerked at my heart as I said my goodbyes, but felt good to know that I met so many amazing people along the journey.
I would like to give a huge thank you to the two most wonderful ladies I know! Jill and Sue have moved mountains in my life. They are true role models and for the first time ever, because of them, I was able to witness my dream job, which is doing what they do every single day of their lives. It is miraculous to see two women that love their job still today as they did 30 years ago. I have no idea how they do all that they do but somehow it all gets done and they give it 110%. It is because of them that my summer was all that it was. It is because of them that I was able to enjoy my time and learn so much in just 6 months. It is truly because of them that I work harder and harder every day to become a better person than I was yesterday. Any time we get together there’s not only a list of things to get done, but honestly deep thoughts, venting sessions, and uncontrollable laughter. These women deserve the best boss award on top of the best mentor award. They always know what to say and always have the right time to say it. The three of us have so much in common that it’s to see us work all so well together. I have the same stubborn attitude as Jill and the same positive attitude as Sue. Somehow they have meshed our crazy team into a phenomenal group to work with that holds great diversity and strength. I am more than proud to say that I will be part of this team again next year and I am so excited to see what they have in store for us. It has been such a pleasure!
Not only has it been a pleasure working with them but also with Deisy of course, Portland DUH, Stefan, Lisa, Angelica, and all the other wonderful people that I was able to spend time with this summer. I also would like to say it was a pleasure being able to debrief about my weeks and share it with all you readers out there. Thank you for all the listening (or reading I should say) that you have done, all the support that was given, and most importantly the motivation to continue on my journey.
I am proud to say that September 13, 2014 marks the first ever shorebird festival in Alamosa Colorado. All of the hard work that Deisy and I performed on top of all of our day to day tasks has finally paid off. It was great to see all the families out having a great time and participating in all of the events. It was such a treat to see all the smiling faces as the kids were able to participate in STEM programs such as solar car races, estimation games, and making bird feeders and paper owls. I think it helped a lot with the fact that they could win all kinds of cool prizes. We were able to give them all tattoos, stickers, bubbles, duck lip whistles, bird whistles, butterfly seed growers, and so much more!
I first want to say thank you to all the volunteers, participants, donors, and all that believed in us. I also want to thank my bosses, Jill and Sue, for giving us the opportunity to get out there and do it no matter what the outcome may be, and I also want to thank all those that came to see what was going on, and I have so many ideas for next year. It would have not been possible without all the support.
We raised a total of 2,800 dollars! The entire festival paid for itself! Prizes included! Our families took home prices such as wolf creek ski resort passes, 3 month passes to Hooper pool, individual passes to Hooper pool, Gift certificates to Kristi Mountain sports and El Vallecito, and visa gift cards starting at 50 dollars. All and all the event was amazing and I am excited to see what it can become I am proud to say, WE DID IT!! We created our first festival! It took a lot of hard work but that hard work was worth every second just to see families coming together to enjoy time learning and competing.
My speed went from 50 to about 100mph in roughly 2.2 seconds flat! Things were moving at a normal pace…which was until this week! Somehow I went from a normal schedule of participating in surveys, purchasing materials, helping out where I could, and piecing together the upcoming festival, to SWFL surveys, the startup of fall shorebird surveys, purchasing time ending, finalizing festival plans, delivering donation letters, taking on a new volunteer and training her, safety training, the wetlands opening to the public, and so much more.
This chaos is the chaos I can truly say I love! I absolutely love being busy 100% of the time. I am often told to stop working because even when the day has ended I am still working. I guess it is safe to say I am addicted to work. I am becoming more sad every day to see my time at work slowly ticking away, but I am more excited than ever because our festival is that much closer. Plans have finally been approved, the word is spread, and fun is unfolding. It is a bit much for me to handle, and I know that if I wasn’t such a self-starter and motivator, that Deisy and I would have never been able to pull off such a big event, but I feel we have found our common ground of working together and actually completing the tasks that need to get done. It is the best feeling to see our bosses faces when they ask us to get something done and we are both able to say that’s already done and taken care of. It is even a better feeling knowing that they want us back for years to follow.
School is right around the corner and this means I will be a full time student, work study worker, full time employee, and full time event coordinator…. SI SE PUEDE!
Summer Latino Leadership Summit has truly helped mold me into the person that I am. Deisy and I gave a presentation on introductions. Our goal was to prepare the students for their future career and the courage it takes to actually get there.
As I started the presentation I looked at every single one of them and realized it was once me that sat in those very seats as one of them. Looking back, I now know it was what I learned there that set me up for life. It taught me how to be a leader and not just a boss. It also taught me how to present myself and the hard work and dedication that it takes to achieve dreams.
We set up our presentation with our volunteers so the students would understand that not everyone is going to be interested in what they have to say. We had Portland as a professional that ignored their introduction and did not interact with them, Stefan was a distracted professional, Deisy interacted very little, and I was the professional that engaged and continued with a conversation. It was beyond powerful when the kids went from Portland’s to mine and didn’t know how to keep eye contact because before there was no communication between the two.
I had a blast and was glad to see the hot week finally coming to an end, because not only was I attending SLLS, I also had to continue working on the process to get our festival underway. I realize my internship is quickly approaching its end and for that I am sad, however, I also understand that school is around the corner and this nerd is ready to start her sophomore year!