05/28/2013 Tuesday -VCE/NPS/VDOF

    My first day! What an incredible opportunity this is. So first things first, I met Adam and we did the usual first day paperwork thing. After that, we had a lunch meeting at Buffalo Wild Wings and Adam treated me to lunch. There I was able to meet, Blake, who works for the Virginia Department of Forestry, Courtney and Ally with the National Park Service. Ally is an SCA intern and Courtney will be my immediate supervisor when I work with the NPS. Lunch was really fun. I got to know more about the girls I will be working with and I am really excited to start. After lunch, Courtney and Ally gave me a brief tour of the Manassas National Battlefield Park. I got to see where the park’s law enforcement office is and I even got to see the horses the park service use. They showed me where the maintenance area is and the other offices within the park including headquarters. I was beyond happy to take it all. It was a great first day and I am excited for what comes next.

05/29/2013 Wednesday -VDOF

    Today my supervisor, Blake, showed me around the Conway-Robinson State Forest. I arrived at seven am to do a little exploring of the trails myself and met with Blake at 8am. We discussed research topics and goals of the program and the
differences between a state forest and a national park as well as the overall values of VDOF. Hiking the trail was amazing. It was very hot and I have about 12 bug bites on my arms. It makes me want to rub them along sand paper. The cicadas were so loud and there were thousands of them. Blake showed me a few central areas of the forest where I am going to be researching. Like the Manassas Gap railroad and the Daughters of the American Revolution dedication site for penny pines. Women and the CCC planted pines in the forest as an effort to help the Union with timber and resources. I also learned what a working forest really is. The forest does not receive federal funding and the money to maintain the forest and the species of plants and wildlife within the forest all comes from the timber that leaves the forest. The forest upkeep basically pays for itself. The money from the timber that is taken from the forest is put right back into the forest which in my eyes is a true example of cooperation and sustainability. We saw some wildlife while in the forest including a bright orange frog, later finding out that it was a Spring Pepper which lives in oak-hickory forests. Blake taught me how to identify an ash tree and how they are a threatened tree species because of the ash bore. I also learned a few names of invasive plants. Blake also discussed the deer hunt from the previous year to control the local deer population. Basically there is a lottery system for hunters who can only use buckshot’s and must adhere to strict guidelines, the hunters can shoot qualifying deer and take the deer with them. This was a good way to control the population of deer and its effectiveness can be seen by the growth of the vegetation and the height of the young oak trees that are growing taller as a result of less deer predation upon them. Also we saw fungi half tree morel. I also saw what I believe to be a bird of prey and a hawk. It was similar to the Condors I have seen in Southern California.

05/30/2013 Thursday-VDOF

    So today was a research day basically compiling the information on the old railroad and the other topics for the Conway Robinson State Forest. I spent the morning reading and trying to get my pictures together for the research YouTube video. Blake let me ride along with her on some stuff so I met up with her at noon and we went out to Old Town Manassas to get the mileage off of the rig and the truck that carries the rig. They use this tractor like thing when doing controlled or prescribed burns. It creates a gap buy clearing a few feet between the burn area and the outside area this way when the fire hits that border it runs out of fuel and burns out and results in a controlled burn. After this we went to a logging site and Blake explained to me what the proper way to close out a logging site was and what VDOF looks for when coming out to a site. It involves making sure that sediments do not get into the surrounding standing water and streams. They also need to put down straw so that the grass will grow and keep the land in place after the trees have been removed. Blake gave me the rundown of the best practices for logging and told me that when people start to log they have 3 days to notify the VDOF of where and that they are cutting down trees. After this Blake dropped me back at the Conway Robinson and I set off on a hike to find the abandoned home site. I was not able to find it but I did get some pictures for the YouTube project.

05/31/2013 Friday-VDOF

    Today was a library day and one heck of an adventure. I worked from home since all my roommates were gone for the day. Adam called me and gave me the project of drafting a sign and getting pricing. The pricing and vendors were easy but I am quite literally close to pulling my hair out to draft a sign. He gave me all the logos and the information for the sign but I am having some serious issues in publisher and in PowerPoint to make this draft. I spent almost 4 hours trying to set it up and I still cannot get the programs to do what I want them to do. It's hard to admit defeat and I am disappointed that I might have to call Adam Monday and tell him that I can’t manage making up a sign. I’m going to give it one more attempt and try coming back to it with a clear head. I really don’t want to let him down and I want my work to speak for itself with reference to the effort I put into it. I wish I was good at design stuff. I should have paid more attention when teachers taught this. (See Monday’s post 6/10/13 for a successful follow up)

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