One month into my internship and life is good!

Hello blog reader(s)!

In a few days I will be reaching a little milestone. On the first of December I will have officially been working for EFTA for ONE WHOLE MONTH! That means one month of living on the beach in beautiful Fort Cronkhite, surrounded by passionate ecologists and amazing wildlife, studying and working to restore California’s iconic coastal habitats. With a job description like that, it should come as no surprise that I have really enjoyed working for EFTA so far. I couldn’t possibly sum up the last month in a single blog post, so I will instead focus on a few highlights. 

View from the Coastal Trail near Rodeo Beach
View from Hawk Hill
Rodeo Beach

I started at EFTA six months after graduating from college. In the months leading up to this employment I, like many new graduates, was feeling a bit lost. I felt conflicted and insecure about so many of the decisions I was making: the jobs I was accepting/rejecting, where I was choosing to live, how I was spending my money, how I was spending my free time. For someone who tends to have strong gut feelings about these things, this sudden uncertainty was strange and unpleasant. So, when an email calling for EFTA applicants appeared in my inbox in August, I was delighted to feel a familiar sense of certainty about it. As I read over the description for the habitat restoration internship that feeling grew. If accepted, I would spend a year restoring native plants/wildlife to California’s iconic coastline, all while living on the beach in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area in a home full of other aspiring ecologists. Throughout the months-long application process, that feeling of certainty never waivered – something in me just knew that I was moving in the right direction. I vividly remember the excitement I felt as I drove from my hometown in the East Bay to Fort Cronkhite on the night of October 31st with my suitcases (and heart!) full. Maybe I’ll talk a bit about that drive here, because its significance – the feeling of complete happiness it conjured – feels worth noting, and I don’t want to forget that feeling. 

It must have been about 6 or 7pm, because I remember driving past the Berkeley hills just as the sun was setting. I watched the warm, low light reflect off rows of little windows, windows which lined streets I’d spent years wandering along growing up. I listened to the radio flip from station to station as I passed familiar landmarks, and then less familiar ones, and a few that were entirely new, and I noted how differently I felt now than when I first moved away from home in 2018, how much more confident I had become and comfortable with change. When I drove through San Francisco it was dusk and everything was blue and sparkly and wide awake. When I entered the long Baker-Barry tunnel the sky had begun to darken to indigo, and when I exited it was black. This meant I was introduced to my new home through smell and sound alone. I was greeted by pungent Sagebrush and salty sea air and crashing waves and softly hooting barn owls, by a dorm building that sparkled with string lights and lively conversation. When I entered I met dozens of other interns and employees, all of-whom were kind and welcoming. I went to sleep that night with a full and happy heart. 

View from a run in the Berkeley Hills — Strawberry Canyon fire trail
View from a run in the Berkeley Hills — Tilden Park, Redwood Trail
My dog Bixby in the Berkeley Hills — Tilden Park
View from a run in the Berkeley Hills — Strawberry Canyon fire trail
View from a run in the Berkeley Hills — Strawberry Canyon fire trail

The rest of my time here has been a joyful blur. I’ve toured the park with my supervisors, practiced driving big trucks, pulled and spread mulch over invasive plant species, thought hard about the ethics of killing invasive plant species, learned about the Bay Area’s history of Indigenous land stewardship and environmental movements, ran in the hills, observed SO MUCH AMAZING WILDLIFE, and a whole lot more!! Maybe I’ll talk a bit about the park’s wildlife. It’s only been a few days and already I’ve seen barn owls, coyotes, white-tailed kites, red-tailed hawks, an osprey, quails, river otters, like A MILLION newts, fuzzy caterpillars that I believe are called “wooly-bears”(?), and loads and loads of other brilliant creatures. 

Restoration volunteer work day at Stinson Gulch — Spreading cardboard over invasive English Ivy

Speaking of making new friends, I am really enjoying getting to know all the other EFTA employees here at Fort Cronkhite! The program has offered us several webinars and in-person workshops, and it’s such a pleasure to learn alongside other passionate young scientists. And the other habitat restoration intern, Jade, and I are becoming good friends. It’s so nice to have someone to geek out about native plants with. 

HRT Intern Jade Dodley and I at Stinson Beach

On an unrelated note, although I have felt many wonderful happy feelings this past month, I have also felt at times a little homesick. But not for my hometown or for my family (because I still see them a lot), but for college. I know I’m where I should be right now, and I have accepted that my time as an undergraduate is over, so it isn’t so much an anxious sort of homesickness, or a sense that I’ve been misplaced, but rather an occasionally overwhelming feeling of loss. Sometimes, when I think about my lovely life in Santa Cruz for too long I start to cry. But maybe, for the sake of honoring and memorializing that time, I will write a bit about it here. In little fragments. I am there again and I am running through redwood forests; I’m playing with dogs on the beach by the lighthouse; I’m drawing pictures of algae at my kitchen table while my roommate cooks challah; I’m having lunch with my favorite teacher and he’s encouraging me to return to his department for grad school. I think I’ll finish up there before I get all teary, but maybe in a little bit I’ll share those moments of joy with my new friends here at Fort Cronkhite. 

Thank you for reading and have a wonderful rest of your day, 


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