My name is Keara Bixby and I am BEMP’s Crawford Intern for the 2016-2017 school year. I am currently finishing my last semester at UNM where I majored in Biology with a focus in Conservation and a minor Sustainability. Much of what I have learned throughout my undergraduate studies has boiled down to the idea that everything is intimately connected on this planet and within our communities. This is why I applied for the BEMP internship. Of course I love helping BEMP conduct long term ecological research of the bosque ecosystem, but I also love the connections made throughout our community. I and my fellow BEMP staff members are cultivating an appreciation for our bosque though programming in the school that surround the Rio Grande. I believe that educational outreach is a valuable part of environmental conservation.
What I do day-to-day for BEMP consists of a lot of leaf litter sorting. Every month when the students go to one of BEMP’s sites, they take a collection of leaves from large tubs and send those leaves back to UNM. Part of my job is to sort those leaves by species and by their unique reproductive parts. It has been interesting to sort through the litterfall month by month and observe the changing seasons. Sorting through months like June and July, where the cottonwood trees start releasing their cotton from their pods, is like experiencing allergy season all over again, indoors, in the middle of January! But, it is also really hopeful because it means the cottonwoods are doing well enough to reproduce.
As BEMP’s newest employee, I also get help the other staff with whatever they might need. My work can range from putting together monthly monitoring bags, to going out into the field for data collection, to creating learning tools for the young BEMPers. I am grateful that I get to observe the other staff; their knowledge about the bosque, passion about the science, and patience with the kids is really amazing.
Overall my favorite part about working for BEMP is interacting with younger BEMPers. Their wild excitement about the outdoors, monitoring, and the bosque is truly uplifting. I can’t wait to see what kind of changes these little scientists will make in the future with their skills and environmental passion fostered by the Bosque Ecosystem Monitoring Program.
Pictured above: UNM student Gabi Benavidez, BEMP Biologist Sean O’Neill, and BEMP Crawford Intern Keara Bixby – out front, leading the way through the frigid January Rio Grande to collect water quality samples.
Guest post by Keara Bixby, UNM Crawford Intern 2016-17