So, I kind of graduated from college?! Weird. The last few months of college absolutely flew by and…. it was surprisingly easy. I managed to get 100% on my last three final exams of undergrad while working 20+ hours a week to save up for a new car. I’d say that is a pretty good way to wrap up my time at California Lutheran University! Good thing I was already planning to get a new car, because my 1998 Volvo (named Sheila) refused to pass SMOG after I got home and she is headed to the dump any day now. Yeah, it would be silly to invest in $1600 worth of repairs on a car that isn’t even currently worth that much.
The only downside of the chaos that was graduation is the fact that I feel like I didn’t actually get to say goodbye to my roommates, other than Christina (only because she had to go to Ventura with me to meet up with her friend Erick before they flew to Jordan for an incredible adventure, which I have very much enjoyed stalking on social media!). We were all so focused on packing up our lives into tiny boxes with very little time to do so between final exams, working, cap decorating, and packing. Luckily, two of my roommates will be living in Simi, so I will surely see them once I am home. I had so many wonderful family members, neighbors, and friends come to the graduation ceremony and to the celebratory lunch at my house. I am so grateful to have such a supportive family along with a wonderful community back home.
I am about two weeks into my internship in New Jersey and all is well. Well, except for the bugs. Apparently I came during one of the worst tick seasons yet. I have found seven on me/around me so far; two of these were on my pillow as I was trying to go to sleep. It is slightly terrifying, but I am trying to keep my cool. I have probably texted
my mom about a million times saying “If I get lyme disease and die, I love you” or complaining about the six or seven mosquito bites on my FACE. Some of the other interns and I went hiking for two hours at Lord Stirling Park, which hosted a plethora of mosquitoes. This was likely due to the fact that it was basically a swamp and it was ninety degrees outside. Why did we think this was a good idea? I will never know. Anyhow, I am an Environmental Education Intern here and I have a wonderful housing arrangement. I have my own room in a cottage and ride my bike or walk to work (biking takes 15 minutes, walking takes about 35 minutes). It is certainly a great workout and we are all really active here, even on our days off. When the weather does not cooperate we will sometimes ride the golf cart to work, but those days aren’t as fun.
We work most weekends since that is when people come to the farm to ride their bikes and explore the meadows, but we get random week days off to make up for it. I spend my days off riding my bike, reading, watching nature documentaries (Jumbo Wild and Virunga so far), studying for the GRE, and deciding what in the world I am going to do with my degree/life. Soon all of the wildflowers will be in bloom and it will be perfect weather for fireflies. I saw my first firefly ever the other day and was so excited and the other interns, who have all grown up on the east coast, thought I was a freak. Whatever, it was cool. I can’t wait until the meadows are full of them. We are currently preparing our educational tables for Firefly Festival, which is apparently a huge success here at Duke Farms.
The wildlife here is incredible. I have seen two baby foxes, but didn’t have my Nikon either time. I have been trying to stalk them, but that hasn’t worked out yet. The birds here are stunning and I am attempting to become a “birder. I am also working on my plant identification skills, since this is an important skill that is being lost in the natural sciences. I am hoping this will give me an advantage over other job and graduate school applicants, but it is also entertaining and plants are neat. I am already planning out a native plant garden for my parent’s house and am going to use the skills I obtain while helping on the local farms to develop a wonderful vegetable garden in Ventura as well; watch out mom and dad! My supervisor signed me up for a really cool workshop with Will Allen from Growing Power this weekend covering topics such as composting/vermiculture, micro-green production, mycoscaping, aquaponics, and much more. I am so excited and I am sure I will have much more to share throughout my New Jersey journey, especially once I sneak a picture of that baby fox.