My Journey with Branching Out

The first time I heard about Branching Out program was during my senior year of high school and turned out to be one of the best decisions that I have made. I heard about this program during a lunch period applied to it because it looked cool and I would be working outdoors a lot! In my spare time I enjoy going on long walks, hikes, and just being in the outdoors, and this program seemed pretty awesome because I would be able to work outdoors all the time. I first joined the program as a field team member not knowing anything about landscape maintenance or the National Park Service in general. As a field team member, I was able to visit National Parks all over Boston and learn their rich history while learning valuable skills from my supervisors and mentors. I learned a lot from the technical experts at the sites and learning how they got to where they are now, and their passion for their work inspired me to find something like that for myself. That summer I really began to enjoy gardening and learning about invasive plants and how they had started to change a landscape from what used to be before and really began to be interested in seeing changes over time, which is something I am very interested in learning in college right now.

After finishing my summer with the field team I was excited to start my freshmen year at Mount Holyoke College. I am going into my junior year this fall, and majoring in both Biology and Geography. I knew I wanted to study some sort of biology when I first started, but I really started to enjoy courses such as ecology, and am very excited to take botany in the fall.

I was very happy when I heard I was able to rejoin the Branching Out again this summer as a park based intern with Boston Harbor Islands in natural resources. I am having a blast, and can’t believe how fast time flies by. I am already about halfway through my internship in the summer! I am mostly doing invasive plant removal on many of the islands removing many invasive species with staff, volunteer, and Green Ambassadors, who are a youth group on Thompson Island! Some of the notorious ones are Multiflora Rose, Honeysuckle, Oriental Bittersweet, and Common and Glossy and Buckthorn. While removing these species, I have been getting pretty good at plant identification skill to the point where I try to identify plants as I walk down the street. Another thing I am also currently working with other staff members to help build a robust citizen science program with collaboration with education department. I have been researching about the National Phenology Network and their Nature’s Notebook program and also interviewing people who have been involved in citizen science programs and getting their advice! One of my favorite parts this summer is working with volunteers on stewardship Thursdays and Saturdays. On these days’ volunteers have the opportunity to work alongside staff on the Island to help remove invasive plants. It is always awesome to work alongside volunteer, and meet new people every weekend. It truly amazes me how devoted and hardworking volunteers are!

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