These past couple of weeks at Rydell I have played many roles: teacher, mediator, janitor, activist, and friend. That is something about this internship I really appreciate, every week I get to play many different roles and each role teaches me more about myself and others. If you have been reading my past blog posts, you have read about me appreciating those who do the not so fun jobs like garbage, recycling, and now you can add bathroom cleaning to that list. I hope for my future job I will never have to do that job because it is not pretty and I will forever be grateful for those who do it.
Monday, Anna (the refuge operations intern) and I went to two library programs, one in McIntosh and one in Climax. I am truly starting to love going to these random small towns here in Minnesota. The people in them are friendly and nice and the atmosphere is so fun. Anna and I walked into the McIntosh library, which is also their community center, at 10ish. McIntosh is a town of 625 people with a delicious bakery. Climax was our truly favorite place to go to though. The library program was later on in the day at 6 pm. We, as in all the interns, had already passed through Climax on our way to Fargo one day. We read the sign Climax, Population: 296. We found the name of the town funny and called it anti-climatic, it didn’t look like much. On Monday, on the way to the library program, Anna and I accidentally drove passed the town when we first got there. We pulled into someone’s farm/driveway to make a u-turn. As we pulled in, we saw a woman on a tractor and a man in overalls and a straw hat standing in the yard. Panicking a bit about being on someone’s property, Anna said, “Reverse, reverse!” so I began to back up. The straw hat man waved us back though and we rolled down the windows with apologetic smiles. Both of us forgot we were in a government vehicle. With a big grin and his blue overalls he said with waving arms, “Oh no! The government! You aren’t going to check my freezer are you?” After all our laughs and jokes we found out his name was John, fondly known as Farmer John, and he was also a postman. We also found out that he knew Jane, the librarian, who was also a substitute post woman. He told us we were welcome to make a U-turn in his yard any time and we left. The library looked fairly small and skimpy on the outside, but there was a cute painted sign on the outside and the moment we walked in, our judgment disappeared. It was a small, clean, cute library, with local artists work on the walls and a variety of books. We met Jane who gave us both postcards, postcards with a picture of their entire town on it. That’s right, they took a picture of their entire town and she pointed out Farmer John to us who was wearing his blue jean overalls and straw hat. Turns out, Jane is the librarian, married to a beekeeper, and a substitute postwoman, a woman of many colors. After taking way too many pictures of everything about Climax, we left, with a great story to tell everyone.
I began to come to the realization this week that I am not here for conservation or wildlife experience. It’s ironic (there is the theme of irony again) because I am at a refuge, a place you would think I would get a lot of that type of experience at. Since I am the visitors services intern, I have duties that do not include biological surveys or really any field experiences and I rarely get a chance to go out and help one of the other interns who do things like that. I could feel bad for myself, and trust me, I have a couple of times, but instead I am just taking this summer as a life lesson, teaching me how to handle certain work situations, get along with all different types of people, live in an isolated area, be somewhat independent, persevere, really, is the main thing I am learning.
I start to panic a bit about not getting more experience in my field (conservation biology), but I know truly that I have the rest of my life to get experience and get a job. Even if I am not getting experiences here dealing with wildlife, my passion for it is still being ignited more and more. Just walking around the refuge, spotting wildlife, a snake eating a frog, dragonflies, 13 striped squirrels, deer, I feel more and more that I am meant to be outside, meant to be protecting nature and animals. And, I know for sure one thing, I can never be stuck in an office all day.