24 May A Day at Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge
A work day at Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge can consist of many different jobs depending on the time of year. At the beginning of the year and towards the end of the year, most time is spent working on the Jr. Ranger program in which the refuge works with local elementary schools and teach students about biological science and the natural world around them. A day with the Jr. Rangers would start with gathering all teaching materials and head to the STEM center of the elementary school and set up for the inside and outside classroom. Once ready, we lead students in a day filled with observing specimens under microscopes (such as aquatic invertebrates or plant leaves), hiking trails, birding, or even paddling on a lake in a kayak.
When school is not in session the days begin a little different with the start of the field season in the summer. Field work days usually start with arriving at the refuge office, hitching a trailer to the truck, loading up/ strapping down the UTV or ATV onto the trailer, and making our way out to the field sit where we will conduct the surveys needed for that time period (forest birds, water birds, tree and vegetation or even bats!). We arrive at site and take the UTV/ATV into the field as close to our site as we can before parking it and walking to our chosen land area. The day differs depending on what you are surveying, but there are a few constants for days such as these. You will be using printed maps or a GPS of some sort, flagging to indicate where you have been for future surveys, and datasheets where what you observe will be written down, whether that is the measurements for certain trees or the number of water birds you saw that day.
Some days are not as exciting as others but just as important. Such days are data input days or work from home days. These days typically are due to a power outage at the office building (which happens with most rainstorms both big and small) or data needing to be input into a database before a deadline. These days are split between staring at a screen inputting characters in cells and trying to decipher past datasheets handwriting or what the recorder meant when they wrote a one word description in their notes.
Still, there are a few special event days in the year that bring back adventure into the work day. Special events such as being part of the town festival (Liberty Jubilee)! Getting to the center of town early in the morning to set up is how the day will start. After getting settled the day will have a little bit of everything: teaching festival goers about animals found on the refuge through pamphlet or holding said animals, giving away festival souvenirs like bird band necklaces and temporary tattoos, and dressing up as Puddles: the blue goose and mascot for the Refuge System! After a full day, it’s teardown time and back home we go, ready for another adventure here at Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge.