I believe that this experience has definitely been reassuring not only because I thoroughly enjoyed the work, but also because I know now that I will feel very comfortable with incorporating plant science into my education. I know that I have applied to a few colleges that offer minors for horticulture or even environmental science and I am confident that those minors will truly help me to become a well rounded student and build upon what I have learned throughout this internship. I certainly want to keep this passion for horticulture and botany with me throughout the rest of my life, so my goal at each step of my life will be to try to incorporate horticulture whether it be academically, professionally, or even just as a hobby.
I get the same feeling from learning about and working with plants that I get from learning about medicine. I highly value the mission of both botany and of medicine because they both strive for the betterment of society and the planet. Both professions have taught me and will teach me the value of hard work and commitment, and that is something that I look forward to mastering. I never knew that these two interests of mine would have so many similarities, but now that I have thoroughly delved into both, I am certain that I wouldn't want to have any other pairing.
I am very proud of what I was able to accomplish in this internship, not only because I was a beginner to all of this work, but also because the project has been and will be extremely important to the garden and also to the restoration efforts that we are attempting to achieve. I hope that all of the plants that take root can find themselves established at Cottonwood creek park or at Ocean Knoll school. I also hope that I have made it a bit easier for future interns and for the botanical garden with my Intern's handbook as well as resources such as the herbarium voucher template and the seed bank catalogue.
I certainly feel that this experience has been rewarding to me, because I came into this internship with practically no experience. Through the excellent education and expertise that everyone at the gardens have provided me, I have been able to work my way to becoming far more proficient in many horticultural and botanical topics.
You can find all of my online resources plus my POL slides in this folder.
How was your work significant or meaningful to the world beyond school and your specific internship site?
Almost everything that I did at the Botanical gardens has been designed to help them and the larger Southern California community. With propagation, I have helped them to start their collection of plant material to populate the sites of their restoration projects. While it is only a small drop in the ocean that is the amount of necessary plants, I have hopefully helped them to get the ball rolling. With the herbarium pressings, I have also contributed to their library of vouchers in hopes of documenting important native species. In addition to all of this, I have helped around the garden by planting new plants and sowing wildflower seeds in the California Gardenscapes garden.
How did you measure the success of the work you did while you were an intern? What did you learn from this?
I tried my best to go above and beyond what I was asked to do. I measured my success by the attention to detail or effort that I gave to each task that I did. At first, with many of the tasks that I was assigned to, I had very little idea how to do it. I tried to hyper-focus on what I was doing so that I could ensure that I was doing the best possible job that I could. This helped me to learn more about the tasks that I was doing, and once I felt comfortable with them, I felt that I had a good control over each task.
What new appreciations did you develop while working as an intern? Why?
I really developed a passion for the art of caring for plants. I know that it isn't always easy to care for plants but it can be done and there is a lot of freedom and creativity in it. Nothing is 100% cut and dry with horticulture and there is always room for experimentation with plants. There is so much that goes into growing something but exploring what works and what doesn't is all part of the fun.
What new questions has your internship inspired you to ask about our world? What has it made you wonder about? What are you moved to go out and do or learn about on your own time?
This internship has made me even more aware of the need to preserve the native environment in any way possible. I will really try to grow native plants that are suitable for the environment of my backyard in an effort to bring back native plants and cut out the invasive plants that have taken over the landscape. I will really encourage everyone to have a few native plants in their homes or at school because it is really important that they have a place to flourish.
This photo essay starter set of 5 photos begins my longer project timeline by showing my process to create the herbarium vouchers.
Throughout this internship, I have definitely noticed strengths and improvements with my professional work ethic and my habits as an intern.
I have learned previously to give everything you do 110% and I have tried to keep that in mind with everything that I do at the San Diego Botanic Garden. I have made sure to create not only praiseworthy final products but also praiseworthy progress work so that every step of my journey could be documented and easily replicated by a different intern.
I definitely feel that I still need to loosen up a little bit because I can tend to overthink the tasks assigned to me, when in reality, I should know that I am capable of doing it well. I try to hold myself to too high of a standard, and I need to have more confidence with each new task that I receive, because the attention to detail that I give to something is more than enough to create a great product.
There is not one thing that I haven't enjoyed doing at the botanic gardens. I have loved everything from the herbarium pressings to the propagation and it has all been so incredibly informative. I find that I never run out of more questions and curiosities as I do my work and that is possible because everyone that I talk to has near infinite knowledge about the work that they do. It is such a fantastic environment to learn in, and as a location for an internship, it is perfect.
Compared to last year's internship, the botanic garden is so different. Not only is the work different but the ambiance is completely different. Last year I was in a very small office with limited people, this year I am at a several acre botanical garden with hustling and bustling staff and visitors. I love this ambiance because there is always something to see or do and it contributes to my energy and work ethic as I am able to feed off of it. One thing that was interestingly similar was pulling the seeds from the seed bank. I felt the similarities to pulling patient charts at the practice and it was almost like riding a bike.
I am so happy that this internship is all I hoped for and more, because it confirms that horticulture and botany can always be a part of my career passions. While my main goal is healthcare, I now know that horticulture can be a great outlet, if not, parallel career.
For my internship project this year, I am cataloguing various specimens of plants and creating a report with the associated information that I need to include with the plant specimens. The goal of this project is to not only improve my understanding of the native plants that I will be working with, but also to jump-start the entire internship program for the SDBG. This is to say that future interns for the botanic garden will be using the information that I gather as well as the methods that I test out to catalogue more native plants.
There are many parts to this project as several different types of data need to be collected on the plants that we take.
The first part involves creating herbarium vouchers for each of the plants that I would like to catalogue. An herbarium voucher is a pressed cutting of a plant specimen that is glued to a piece of cardstock in a way that illustrates the characteristics of the plant species.
As seen here, these vouchers also contain an information card that denotes all of the vital notation to locate the plant that the clipping was taken from in the future. This information card is the second part of the project. I must take notes on the soil composition, slope, light, and importantly the associated species (other species that are growing in the vicinity of the plant).
Lastly and most importantly, is the propagation portion of the project. Having pressed records of plants is great for studying the characteristics of the species and for posterity, but the true public importance of this project is the "living library" of propagated native plants that I am attempting to grow. A large part of my work every day is to prepare several different types of propagules from native plants. Basically, I take cuttings (as seen in the previous post) or seeds (many of which are older than I am) and plant them in a way that will create new roots and essentially a whole new plant.
This project will hopefully not only help the botanic garden with their internship program, but it will also work towards restoration projects at the Cottonwood Creek Park.
Part 1: Interview
The mentor that I interviewed is Gabe Lizarraga, a gardener at the SDB Garden:
Why did you choose to work here?
Gabe chose to work at the SDBG because it was a great opportunity to grow knowledge of all plants. It provided him a much more concrete experience in caring for and handling plants of all shapes and sizes.
What skills and training are necessary for your position?
The good thing is that there is no real prerequisite of knowledge needed, most of the information that you need is learned on the job. The goal of the SDBG is to educate and prepare those who are passionate about horticulture. Gabe personally had prior background with organic farming, nurseries, and other gardening jobs here and there.
Do you plan to stay with the botanic gardens for the rest of your career?
Gabe says that "it is hard to tell what the future will hold but there is always potential for growth. The SDBG has certainly been a fantastic beginning to my career. In today's climate is is great to have the knowledge of growing instead of cutting down. It is an opportune time to get into this field because it is not too concrete and restricting, there is wiggle room to explore what you want to do."
How do you feel about the mission of this organization?
To Gabe, the botanic garden's plans to expand the mission for restoration is very encouraging. It is great to have this organization that helps and spreads awareness to the community as well. The work that the garden does also gives more of a greater purpose to this work; it is not just about beautifying a garden.
What other advice do you have about working here?
If anything, always be in that beginners mindset, because there is always more to learn. It's great because you get hands-on experience mixed with academic pursuit. Make sure to not be afraid of hard and/or tedious work; it definitely does pay off.
Part 2: Journal
I have learned so much in this internship and I've barely completed a week of it. I find myself even more passionate than ever to learn about different horticultural and botanical topics. I have familiarized myself with the scientific names of the plants that I work with as well as several key features that I can use to identify them in the field. What I have learned can also help me with my own future gardening endevours and attempts to create a native garden. The knowledge that I have is relatively simple information but it is exactly what I need to know to be useful. I have felt automatically comfortable with the work that I do because I have had such a welcoming and patient staff to teach me.
I absolutely love it here. I can't believe that this is a full time job for most of the people that I work with. The botanic gardens are such a fantastic and tranquil setting to work in. I loved that I was in the open air, walking around (or in some cases riding around in the golf carts) and that there was a healthy buzz of visitors enjoying their time at the gardens. I feel that I will quickly learn the shortcuts and pathways to get from one end of the park to the other as is usually necessary.
I really appreciate that everyone has been extremely friendly and patient with me. I feel that I can trust them to ask them plenty of questions and I know that they have my best interests in mind which makes me feel even more comfortable. They are all fountains of knowledge and they clearly love the work that they do. In my first couple of days I have learned more from them and from doing than I could have ever learned from online research. Tony Gurnoe, the Director of Horticulture and mentor that I will be working with, put it this way: "you never really know a plant until you kill one." He is a firm believer that the best way to learn something is to just go out and do it. That philosophy is exactly what has taught me so much in the span of only a few days.
The thing that excites me about the propagation of plants that I am working on is that there are very little mistakes that can be made. Obviously taking cuttings from an relatively abundant Artemisia californica is somewhat low stakes, but it still holds a profound importance. The preparation of these little cuttings is simple enough in concept that they could virtually be done by a child. It is in this simplicity, however, that the real value and magic of propagation shines through.
I am looking forward to the progress that I make in this internship. I know that I will be able to look back and see some great products and I know that I will become very close to the staff. I am already excited to start experimenting in my backyard and I can't imagine how much I will learn as I progress through the internship.
I wonder if there will ever be a lull in work-time. I know already that the answer will be no because they are all so extremely hardworking and busy (just my kind of people) and there is always something else to do. Regardless of what happens from day to day, I now feel comfortable in knowing that I will have the absolute best time at my internship.
My internship this year will be at the San Diego Botanic Garden in Encinitas. My mentor is Jill Gardner, the HR and Volunteer Services manager, but I will mainly be working with the horticultural staff to learn about plant propogation and work with the plants around the gardens. I will report to and collaborate with Ms. Gardner regarding the big picture of my project and process.
During my time at the gardens, I will be collecting samples of native plant species (called propagules) for storage and usage as well as the data that I record in order to preserve the native landscape of Southern California. The plants that I will be researching will be California buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum), Black sage (Salvia mellifera), White sage (Salvia apiana), California sagebrush (Artemisia californica), Coast live oak (Quercus agrifolia), and White coast ceanothus (ceanothus verrucosus). I will be trained in the handling and care of these plants as well as certain data collection and herbarium methods.
I am so excited to expand my knowledge of not only native plants but horticulture and plant growth in general. I hope to take away so many interesting pieces of knowledge that I can apply to my everyday gardening and botanical endevours. I come to this internship full of interest, excitement and questions so I hope it will be a blast.