search

Blog Author : abyrne

Me surrounded by prairie flowers

My love for science and ecology, specifically, is not a passion many other people have. I go to a school where being an engineer is glorified and studying buisness is seen as prestigious. When people say they are studying engineering or business, to someone they know or to a complete random stranger, they are instantly impressed and praise them. It is always the typical “Good for you!” or “Wow, that must be really hard, you must be very smart”. I am studying environmental science.

Collecting hoses to water

The prairie restoration experiment ongoing at the Morton Arboretum is a lot more than just pretty flowers and phylogenetic diversity. In order to study this prairie, and get significant, controlled, results, there is a lot of maintenance work that goes into it.  I started at the Morton Arboretum on May 22nd, and every day, we were out in the field weeding. I have weeded before, so it seemed like an easy job to me. However, that was not the case. There are a total of 437 2x2 meter plots on site.

I am categorizing the liatris plants based on their quality into a white binder for later data analysis

I am the only undergraduate research fellow to be studying something other than trees at the Morton Arboretum. At first, I felt proud. I worked in a prairie last summer, so to have the opportunity to work in a prairie again, while conducting research, was exciting. However, as time passed, I felt like the odds were against me. Prairie restoration is a lot of work. There is a lot of time and effort that goes into the process of maintaining the prairie.

Assessing plug survivorship by assigning each plant in the plot, on the paper grid, with a number that correlates to their condition.
We are nearing the end of the summer and data collection is beginning to come to a close. This means data analysis is right around the corner and I am not ready to take it head on. The challenges I am going to face will be mighty, but I have hope that with the help of my advisers and peers, I will reach my end goal.
Landscape of Oak Savanna, displaying burr oaks and an open green prairie field at Pleasant Valley Conservancy- Madison, WI
My first blog post consists of the struggles I faced when deciding what I wanted to do with my future. After finding my love and passion for the prairie, my career path has become clear for me. Being able to work at the Morton Arboretum has only strengthened my focus to achieve my goals in life. My first few weeks at the Morton Arboretum has opened so many doors for me, and I am excited to see what is in store for the remainder of time that I am here.