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Canopy Career Chronicles

Carmen, the Conservation Scientist.
Carmen, the narrator, says, "I was fascinated by the trees near by house growing up, imagining the stories they'd tell me if they could talk." A girl kneels on the ground next to a large tree. She is sketching on a piece of paper. The tree says, "You should have seen it here in 1816. After a volcanic eruption all the trees around couldn't grow much. We called it "The Year without a Summer."
Carmen, the narrator, says, "I got more curious as I got older, and my stories evolved." She sits at a desk looking toward a tree. She has a pencil in her hand and she is drawing on a large piece of paper in front of her.
Carmen, the narrator, says, "Once I got into college, I looked for people who were interested in the stories that nature told... just like I was. So I joined a conservation association." She stands with several other people, looking at a tree and taking notes. A college campus is in the background.
Carmen, the narrator, says, "It helped me find some cool summer jobs, like getting paid to identify plants in national parks. I learned that understanding what you have -- tracking the number, size, and age of trees in a forest, for example -- is the first step in conservation." She kneels on the ground, looking down at a plant growing at the base of a tree.
Carmen, the narrator, says, "I also helped search out invasive species in the Smoky Mountains. Invaders -- plants, predators, or insects -- are one of the greatest threats to biodiversity or rare plants." She stands in a forest, using a handsaw to hack through some invasive vines growing up a tree. A man in the background is wrestling with some other vines.
Carmen, the narrator, says, "Everything I was learning made trees' stories more fascinating. But they were also getting more complicated." She is looking at her sketchbook with a pencil in her hand. The drawings tell a story about what happens in the life of a tree.
Carmen stands in a field full of dead, defoliated trees. She asks, "What happened here?" A park ranger responds, "An invasive insect -- the hemlock wolly adelgid -- killed 80 to 85 percent of the park's hemlocks."
Carmen, the narrator, says, "There were so many unanswered questions..." She asks, "What can you do to help the forest bounce back? How will climate change affect what will grow here?" The park ranger says, "We're just not sure. There isn't a whole lot of data yet."
Carmen, the narrator, says, "It was a defining moment. To get the answers that would help fill out the stories, I decided to go back to school." She looks frustrated yet determined.
Carmen, the narrator, says, "I wanted to do the resaerch that could help conservationists in their work. So I set my sights on forest ecology, studying how trees in the forest relate not only to other living things, but to their physical surroundings." She stands holding a leaf on the branch of a tree. Her notebook is sitting on a stump behind her.
Carmen, the narrator, says, "I'm interested in climate change and how humans can help promote healthy forests into the future. To do this, we need to undersatnd what happened in the past." Her silouttee appears in a forest.
Carmen, the narrator, says, "It turns out that trees tell their own stories the best. I just needed the tools to be able to unlock those stories." An hand drill, a chainsaw, a clipboard, and a computer appear in the background.
Carmen, the narrator, says, "By studying the rings from trees that have already fallen, we can see how forests have responded to changes and stresses like fire, drought, and clearing land for agriculture." She stands next to a fallen tree holding a chainsaw and wearing protective gear. A man kneels to look at the tree rings and says, "So that dark spot means it survived a forest fire?" Carmen says, "Sure does!"
Carmen, the narrator, says, "Comparing tree ring information with climate data and historical records helps us tell a more complete story." Carmen's hand points to a tree ring. She says, "Why is this ring so small compared to the years before? Oooo, this was during the Dust Bowl in the 1930s! I just touched the Dust Bowl!"
Carmen, the narrator, says, "We also use increment bores, or hollow hand drills, to get pencil-sized samples from living trees without harming them. We can examine these through a microscope." She is using an increment bore to extract a core sample from a tree in the forest.
Carmen, the narrator, says, "To tell trees' stories within a single year, we rely on citizen science. Our volunteers go out weekly, noting things like when a tree's leaves appear or when it's blooming." Some people stand outside, holding clipboards and looking up at a tree. One of them says, "It's starting to turn green! The leaves are emerging!"
Carmen, the narrator, says, "But to tell trees' stories into the future, we need different kinds of tools. Since we don't have a time machine, we use math, statistics, and computers to bring different stories together and tell new ones." She sits at a computer looking at data on the screen.
Carmen, the narrator, says, "I need to pull in my colleagues for this, because nobody knows it all." She knocks on the door of a man who is sitting next to a microscope. She asks, "Hey Javier, can we use some of your leaf data?"
In the right frame, Carmen approaches a woman eating her lunch and says, "Hey Megan, there's something funny going on with the soil nitrogen."
In the right frame, Carmen is talking to a woman walking toward her, saying, "Hey, Nasrin, how does photosynthesis work?"
Carmen, the narrator, says, "I love my job. I mean, to unlock trees' stories I have to get dirty and use power tools." She is using a chainsaw to cut a sample from a fallen tree.
Carmen, the narrator, says, "But our computer models are even more powerful tools." She sits surrounded by her colleagues. They all gaze in wonder at the computer screen in front of them.
Carmen, the narrator, says, "They help us tell the stories of hundreds of thousands of trees all at once." Carmen and her colleagues stand in a forest as the trees talk to them. They say, "I've seen lots of trees come and go over the years. The Dust Bowl was a really tough time around here. Did I tell you I've survived three forest fires?"