Week 6 of the CLIP internship had many unique experiences and learning opportunities, from understanding forest pests to monitoring Plants of Concern. We have created a deep appreciation for and unique insight into nature – memories that will last a lifetime. It was an eventful week, to say the least.
Tuesday morning we started the week pulling parsnip at Gateway Park in Harvard. In the afternoon Shawn Kingzette from Davey Tree Company discussed forest pests like European gypsy moth and emerald ash borer and how to manage them. We also learned about diseases like chestnut blight, oak wilt, Dutch elm, and bur oak blight. At another easement, we finished the day monitoring poke milkweed, a Plant of Concern. Along the way, a few frog friends decided to give us a warm welcome while we collected berries from false solomon’s seal.
Most of our lovely Wednesday was spent monitoring another Plant of Concern, the black cohosh, with Susanne Masi. The beautiful black cohosh produces a fetid smell that is alluring to numerous bugs and pollinators. In the afternoon, Jennifer, TLC’s bookkeeper/office manager (and talented photographer) shared the fundamentals of nature photography with us. We wrapped up the day with butterfly monitoring. It was exciting to be part of the process of gathering data and evaluating the results. Alongside the trail, we found a distinct plant topped with a bright red structure and modified leaves which happened to be an Indian paintbrush, one of my favorite plants!
We spent Thursday at Crowley Sedge Meadow. In the morning we collected the seed heads of invasive reed canary grass to prevent them from developing into new plants. Afterward, we spent the afternoon with volunteers at a workday. The crew heard loud bird noises coming from the woods; naturally, as curious interns, we made our way into the woods and found a large heron bird nest on top of a tall tree! Later, we found many interesting objects, including edible wood ear fungus and parts of a deer skeleton on our hike. We then ended the day seed collecting a sedge known as carex rosea.
Friday started with a half-day trip to Small Waters, a nonprofit organization led by Judy & Jack Speer, and located in Harvard, IL. We pulled notable amounts of wild parsnip from their property to prevent it from pushing out native plants. Judy and Jack shared a brief history of the cemetery nearby. The day continued with a plant walk and collection for our ID books so we can continue to learn the native flora of the region. Lastly, we got the chance to put our nature photography skills to the test right outside Hennen Conservation Area in Woodstock. We used our new photography skills to capture nature’s magnificent splendor.
Ultimately, it was a great CLIP week. Each day is a new adventure, and thanks to everyone who was a part of it.