#WOMENINSTEM WEDNESDAY - #CONSERVATIONLANDS15 STYLE: Kingston Range Wilderness, California, by Bob Wick
#WOMENINSTEM WEDNESDAY - #CONSERVATIONLANDS15 STYLE: BLM EMPLOYEE LARA KOBELT IN HER OWN WORDS
“Five years ago, at just 22, I moved from Ohio to Rock Springs, Wyoming, to work for the BLM under the chicagobotanicgarden’s Conservation and Land Management Internship Program. I was a Seeds of Success Intern, so my field partner and I traveled around the field office collecting hundreds of thousands of seeds for restoration, research, and native plant materials development.
I worked back east for a year, but…the west is the best! So I applied to the CLM internship program again, and requested to work in one of the southwest deserts. I ended up in Needles, California, collecting seeds for the SOS program.
I was offered a Student Career Experience Program (now Pathways Program) position in Needles, was accepted into the Master of Science in Forestry program at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona, and I’ve been here ever since.
At work, I’m researching the genetic study of sky island white fir populations in the Kingston Range Wilderness of the Needles Field Office. A fir is one of the more popular species used as Christmas trees – picture that in the middle of the Mojave Desert! These mountains are so special – they serve as “rest areas” for migratory bird species and are a hide-out for mountain lions, bobcats, and desert bighorn sheep. There are several plants that grow in this wilderness and nowhere else in the world.
At the end of the day, though, National Conservation Lands are important to me because, whether at work or on the weekends, I spend a lot of time in, on, and around National Conservation Lands. I’ve backpacked up crazy scary mountains in the Kingston Range Wilderness to look for the elusive white fir trees. During a backpacking trip in the Chemehuevi Mountains Wilderness, it rained for almost 12 hours, and I got to hike in fog in the middle of the desert. I’ve been to all the wilderness areas in the Needles Field Office, and I always find something new and interesting - be it a tiny flower, a new water source seeping up from the ground, or bighorn sheep peering at me from the next ridge over.
When I get stressed out by school or overwhelmed at work, the only thing that truly fixes me is getting out into the wilderness. I ditch my phone, my computer, and my proximity to roads and cars and electricity. National Conservation Lands and Wilderness make you get out of your car, and totally surrounded by nature. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”