Just a field botanist and biologist sharing an assortment of daily bits, random thoughts, and adventures while working to improve writing.

Job Requirements

Recently had a discussion about resume building and catering to the job requirements.  Some of the "skills/abilities" discussed were not ones that I ever thought of making sure were prominently displayed and backed up in my resume. Here are a few:

  • squatting/bending for extended periods of time
  • (safely) driving a vehicle
  • hopping over ditches
  • ability to live/work in remote areas
  • following directions/protocols

These are all skills that are required for the work I do and honestly thought are a given looking at past work experience and where I live.  Shame on me for thinking that.  HR people really are clueless on the required skills for the jobs they hire for.  Something about that feels so wrong to me.  

The most amusing of these to me is the living/working in remote areas.  I am surprised how difficult that is for people who are working as field biologists these days.  Seems where I am now has gotten many previous seasonal workers who could not take the remoteness of the job.  For me, my current town is an upgrade with a decent selection of stores and an increase of about 6000 people.  They did formally ask if I would be ok working in a small town and then laughed and said I'd be fine.  

All of this makes me wonder what the caliber is of the newest field biologists. Then again, I have worked with a few that can't deal with limited socialization or "things to do."

Current mood: #amusedweasel


This is something that always seems to sneak up on me. Especially during the field season. The worst thing is going from an extremely long office day to a field day in extreme heat. The field feels hotter. Just standing looking at a map and the sweat is dripping off your face. I came home that day and started a pot of rice, put water in another pot for my dinner (thankfully didn't turn the stove on), and then sat in my bed to work on some job related stuff. I passed out hard. Woke up 6 hours later. I did not eat dinner that night. Thankfully I have a three day weekend after working a few long days.

Current mood: #sleepyweasel

Mid-season cleaning

An unfortunate result of long, exhausting field days is neglection of the living space. I actually motivated to give my place a good clean after weeks of not doing more than dishes and an occasional sweep. It is amazing how much better the place feels now. I organized a little too so hopefully the removal of some chaos will make the field days easier.

Current mood: #satisfiedweasel

Heat is no joke

As a field biologist, working outside in all variety of weather conditions comes with the occupation. The past few years I have been working in some extreme heat for field work. I have worked/lived outside in 37C/100F+ temperatures for days/weeks at a time. Every season I have worked that has a new/aspiring field biologist, there has been some sort of issue in relation to heat or cold. It is so easy to not drink enough water in the heat. It catches up on you really fast, too. No matter how much it is stressed there is always one that over heats or just doesn't drink enough water. It is much better to hydrate and be sweaty or have to urinate than it is to deal with what happens when you stop sweating.

One of the worst experiences I've had working outside in the heat early in my career had more to do with what I did after I left the field: I took a hot shower. I came in from a long day in high heat and in a tick filled area. My usual treatment for tick heavy days was a hot shower. This day I took that hot shower and then pretty much passed out shortly after. I didn't even eat dinner. The next day I was sluggish and felt hung over. I learned my lesson that day. I also learned about trying to keep my body acclimated to the temperatures to the point where the heat doesn't bother me as much as it could. I tend to avoid use of air conditioning, especially during the field season. It honestly makes life much easier. Once acclimated to temperatures the high heat doesn't seem so bad.

I have also experienced the not sweating in the heat once. I managed to catch it myself and get myself into cooler area so I could hydrate and cool off. I won't lie, it was a scary experience when I realized what was going on. It was all because I was working an event and hadn't gotten a drink in awhile. I know much better now to not put that off no matter how busy I am.

This post inspired by a field n00b almost getting to the point of heat stroke in the field.

Current mood: #hydratingweasel

Too Hot

I was super excited to start my field season this year. The area I am working in is one that I have wanted to work in for a very long time. As a botanist, I was extra excited to see what the vegetative communities would look like in spring and summer. Unfortunately I am here in a rather unique year of drought and unusual heat. The vegetation survey methods I am using are not physically taxing but they are certainly mentally taxing. Add in the abnormally high temperatures and it make for a rather draining and not very enjoyable experience. For a bonus, the sky is filled with smoke so I dont get to enjoy the scenery.

It is legitimately too hot to really be able to function well unless you are out in the early morning hours. Today we were out early but had an unexpectedly long hike to the survey area. There was almost a coup within the crew when the distance from where we parked was getting further than we had water for. Thankfully the day went without an issue but the heat made it all more difficult to accomplish. I have another plant in the queue to identify but I'm in a bit of a fuck this , it can wait mode. I'm not looking forward to the rest of this week or the rest of the month as there is no relief in sight for the heat or the drought. I may actually sleep through my weekend.

Current Mood: #fatiguedweasel

Field Botanist Term of the Day: Key Out

This is a term that can bring joy or despair to any field botanist.

To key out a plant means working through a dichotomous key to determine the species in hand. It can bring joy if someone enjoys the puzzle that identifying plants can be. It will bring despair if you hand us a crispy twig and ask us to identify it. Even worse if we are handed a plant that has no identifying features and we are expected to figure it out. Glares will be given and we may secretly hate you for a tiny bit for that.

Using a key is painful for most but it is something I enjoy to an extent. The frustrations ensue when identifying plants in the grass, mustard, or pea families. Asters can also be infuriating. My current key is a book of 700+ pages.

Keys are not something many go to first to identify a plant. Many times a regular field guide is used first and the key is a last resort. I am playing my season on hard mode and trying to use the key first. I may come to regret that decision but knowing how to use a key well is very beneficial career wise so it is not an exercise in futility.

I'm going to grab a beer, put on some soothing music, and start working on my stack of plants. This stack is mostly varieties from the pea and grass families. 

I might need more beer.

Current Mood: #sighingweasel

Already behind a day...

Trying to get into a new habit does certainly take some effort and reminding.  Since I am behind a day I will just make two posts to catch up.  

This week has been one of the more draining weeks in awhile. It followed a week that was beyond exhausting mentally. I received a bit of a one-two punch at work.  A power outage occurred within an hour of arriving to work and lasted half the day. My workstation decided I no longer existed so I couldn't access anything. While doing a little QA/QC I discover a slew of problems that need to be fixed within the data. Thankfully I caught them early enough to not be a time expensive issue.  

The next day a temporary crew member makes all the possible data collection errors possible and I was too dumbfounded to correct them. My confidence in that data does not exist. We are all allowed off days but this one just seemed like a full crew was off. Makes for a bit of a mess and also why I have a stack of species to key out on my weekend. 

Hopefully this week will be better. 

Current Mood: #waningweasel

Get the OuiZl ball rolling

This partially a test but also a brief intro to this HpyOuiZl. I do mostly vegetation/botany work now but have a number of years working with wildlife *cough 28 cough* in various capacities. I have never been a huge mammal fan but the weasel family is my favorite. I've also been told I have a weasel grin by a few different people so it sort of stuck. Like weasels I can go from high energy to wanting to nap and my curiosity is almost insatiable at times.  

Some of the content I hope to share:

  • field pictures
  • plant/wildlife info
  • random musings
  • field coffee/lunch spots 
  • fieldworker life
  • animal experiences

This will be a work in progress but I am hoping it will be fun and educational while I improve my writing skills. 

Just for fun. Current mood: #excitedweasel