Thursday, August 6, 2009

Day 2

Today was amazing! We got up at 5:50 am and got ready to go by 7. We had our first bout of training and where we each were assigned a role (recorder, presser, photographer, or collecter). We went to an open meadow around a radio tower and many specimens were collected. We all pretty much got the jist of it fairly quick as well as working as a team. Although the experience was new for many of us, we worked together very well. But, because Anthony was layed over in Jersey because his plane was missing a part (fire extinguisher) making it so that he could not fly in on Sunday with everyone else, Shannon and I had to go to the airport in Ontario to pick him up. We also had a flat tire on Rusty's rig so we turned in the vehicle and got a new shiny Chevy Tahoe which is pretty nice except for the fact that it lacks satellite radio. After we went to lunch, we headed to Wal Mart to get groceries-that was uber sweet. Most of our food consists of junk food (i.e. mini donuts, chips, candy). Then we went back into the field on the Nature Trail with Anthony to get him into the groove of field work. Okay, since I'm pretty straight forward and didn't add any pizzaz to my writing, I'll hand it over to Monica who is a hilarious and creative story teller.


Where to start hmm?? I suppose I could begin with Monday morning eh? Or even better, we'll backtrack a little to Sunday evening... I was WORN OUT! If it wasn't for all the plane travel, new faces, new places, emotional and physical exhaustion well shoot, let's just say I was tired. Sleep was a little rough being in a new and strange mountainous cabin reserve (James Reserve). I was unsure what to think of the winding roads, tall trees, and all the sky! It was beautiful and I couldn't wait to get up and get started on the day. Waking up in a room with a bunch of girls: one who later I'd discover to be named Hannah "Skadoosh" to be a crazy good dancer, Katie the plant genius and great listener, Hannah "H.C." the hysterical actress. (and to think we're only on our 5 day and I'm looking back with so much left of our adventure together) But anywhoos... back to day 2 right! As I woke up and rummaged around the room for my belongings, asking the girls who seemed to be more experience at hiking than this looney Iowan gal what to pack, and looking for some delicous and nutricious breakfast in the kitchen I began to realize that this experience could be either amazing or on the flip side absolutely awful, yet I was keeping toes and fingers crossed for plan A. (I still think the plants have decided that that's the best choice as well) Everyone then proceeded to gather in the meeting room directly off of the kitchen area and put on boots, finished packing bags, and kept their ears open for instructions from our good sir Rusty Russell. The leader and papa of the group :) We discussed the plan of attack for the day. We'd take a small hike in the morning, pick young New Jersey resident Anthony up from the airport (the airplane was missing a vital piece of equiptment... dun dun dun a fire extinguisher!), return to the house, and take another small hike to help Anthony catch back up on the equipment and roles of the day. So back to the morning at hand here, I listened intently to Rusty for my "job" per-say and was quick to ask any question that came to hand. I still consider myself to be the most inexperience camper/hiker/botanist around, yet I am learning and that's all the counts... right? At this time I heard my name and my job, RECORDER! Woot, I think?! When we left the cabin and off to a small trail directly across the road I began to wonder if I should have broken in my boots a little bit better. Too late now! "Off we go!" I carried that green clipboard with pride and looked on as others carried cameras, press material, and the nerves of meeting new people. The hike wasn't too bad afterall, perhaps I was in decent shape afterall and these boots would do me well :) By the radio tower I saw bunches and bunches of plants. Some recognizable and some unrecognizable. Either way I was eager to help. So I began to listen to Rusty shout off words and acronyms that I was completely clueless to but nodded my head in aggreement. I figured a little brown nosing wouldn't hurt the first day in the field ;) To this day I still say that being recorder is the toughest job. The whole plant collecting process relies on that one single person... I'll stick to giving a helping hand where needed. Yet if that helping hand requires me to be recorder, my hand is shot up as a volunteer. I have learned not to hold back on this expedition so far. Even after the second day! Around 9 Katie, Shannon, and Rusty went to get Anthony while the rest of us remained at the reserve. When they returned we were still getting used to the thought of being around eachother, yet I knew it wouldn't be hard. What's so difficult about getting along with fellow science nerds? The best part was going off to grocery shop. This is where I learned that not only do science nerds adore science (shocker eh?! haha) but that we all pretty much love the same food. Or is that just a teenager thing? We drove our two vehicles into town with a grocery list in hand and as those air tight Wal-Mart doors opened I could smell the gorgeous smell of semi-fresh produce, pre-packaged foods, hygiene deficient employees, and even worse hygiene deficient shoppers. It was going to be a blast! Yet my dear readers, the hardest part is describing to you the exact emotions I felt while roaming those aisles with two shopping carts, 3 boys (yes, that includes Rusty), and 5 beautiful ladies ;) So I believe the best solution is by having you read a few quotes that will forever be imprinted in my 17 year old memory: "Did anyone get the granola bars... yet?!" "GO GET THE SMORES STUFF!" "...We need more food..." and the ever common, "I thought those kids were with you... or are they getting that food? Wait, we already have it... what is going on!?!" Yes indeed my readers, Wal-Mart is an exciting place for 6 teenagers, 2 adults, and all suffering from a curable disease called hunger. Once home though all was well. We unpacked our newly purchased goods, went on one more hike, joined a game of egyptian rat screw (card game my dears), and hit the sleeping bag like it was a king sized mattress covered in the softest comforter you had ever had. So in conclusion....


We have grown close to these strange castaways and looked onto bigger and better things. Until the next time we blog my friends and it will happen again. We do believe our sleeping bags, pillows, and current bunk mates for the next two weeks are calling us. Goodnight.

-Katie and Monica


  1. It sounds like you guys are having a blast! I work in the Eduaction & Outreach office at the National Museum of Natural History (and will now forever refer to Rusty as "The Big Cheese"). Some of what we try to do is help people understand how COOL Rusty's job - and the jobs of all the scienitsts and researchers who work here - really is.

    How do you think we can get more of your friends and peers to get excited about science the way you are?

  2. Hi Mr. Watson! You are correct in saying that Rusty's job is the coolest thing ever! Field work and botany are the ultimate combo in my opinion. You have confronted us with an excellent question and my first response would be that most of our friends are already into science as much as we are, but for those friends and peers that are not into science I would have to tell them all about this experience. Earthwatch has allowed many of us to actually get field experience and to try a multitude of new things which weeds out those who do and do not like being outside collecting data. So, overall, whenever I meet someone who is not interested in science, I think that it would be beneficial to point them out to internships or activities that provide the behind-the-scenes info on jobs in the scientific world. I know that experiences such as those previously listed have influenced my plans for a career in science.

  3. Hello Mr. Watson! In addition to what Katie said, the best way to get people interested in science is by attaching it to another activity. I was really attracted to this specific SCAP program because of the hiking aspect of it. While some people will love science for what it is, lots of people need to be brought in by something else. For example, I have friends that did work on coral reefs off the coast of Florida because they got a chance to scuba dive. From it, they not only learned a lot about the biology aspect of it, but were more concerned with the state of the environment around them. I hope this helps!