Leading my own forest-wide program

Me writing down streamflow measurements.

About a month into my internship, my supervisor suggested that I come up with my very own project that I would work on for the rest of the year. I immediately knew that I wanted to monitor aquatic macroinvertebrates a.k.a. aquatic insects on our forest. I did a lot of macroinvertebrate identification in college and became very good at it, so I was confident that I could tackle this project. My supervisor also liked the idea because macroinvertebrates have not been monitored on the Tonto National Forest in many years, so it was a perfect choice.

I started going through old files that my supervisor found from when invertebrates used to be monitored on the forest. The wildlife biologist in our office kindly offered to be a part of our efforts because of his background in macroinvertebrate monitoring work. With him onboard, the three of us started getting supplies together, reaching out to get others involved, and determined our study sites. People from all over our forest reached out saying that they want to get involved, which made me excited and hopeful that this project will flourish into a forest-wide monitoring program for years to come.

We are currently waiting for our supplies to get delivered so we can start collecting data as soon as this month. I also want to reach back out to everyone who wants to be a part of the program for their availability to help with field work. I designated a desk in my office for the insect identification and have plans to write a “How to” for both the field work (collecting the insects) and the lab work (identification and storage) for people to follow once my internship is over. I am really excited to use my insect identification skills and to learn the field methods on a project that is only getting bigger!

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