19 June 2021

Oh, how the time does (butter)fly!

Written by: Anna Lad

Wow, has it been a month already? Time flies here in Central California! My name is Anna Lad, and I’m working for the Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office this summer as a DFP intern. My official title is “Smith’s Blue Butterfly Habitat and Mapping Intern”, but I prefer “data acquisition specialist” or “professional sponge”. 

There are nearly 30 years of data to sort through, over 30 stakeholders to contact, and reams of acronyms to memorize. The learning curve is steep, but my view from the end of Week 4 is sunny and 75°F.

My first few weeks as a half-virtual, half-in-person intern were amazing. My second week, leaders at the National Conservation Training Center (NCTC) crafted a fantastic orientation. I had several questions and most of them were answered before I’d even had a chance to ask. The weekly Region 8 meetings are engaging and informative. Despite Covid-19 conditions making many things virtual, the sense of community didn’t suffer in the DFP. 

At the Ventura Office, I have an amazing supervisor, Deb, who has brought me under her wing and offered invaluable mentorship. I live in Arroyo Grande, two hours north of Ventura, but Deb gave me a tour of the office when I stopped on my road trip from Texas to California. 

Next week, I’ll accompany her on a field visit. We will spend three days in Monterey meeting stakeholders and surveying critical habitat for Smith’s blue butterfly. I am looking forward to being able to thank these stakeholders in person for all the time they’ve put into capturing data on this butterfly.  

Just two days ago I drove up to Fort Ord Natural reserve, camped, and spent the day surveying buckwheat plots with interns from CSUMB and UCSC. It was so cool to see data collection in person – not to mention see (and photograph) Smith’s blue for the first time. Seeing the natural landscape in person will help me map it in ArcGIS. I also stand to get some great photos for the Ventura office. Smith’s blue butterflies are barely an inch in wingspan as well as hard to spot. I took a few photos yesterday and can’t wait to share them with Ashley and Olivia in Public Affairs. The community deserves to see more of Smith’s blue! 

It’s such a blessing to be able to be in-person on the California coast for this internship. I’m trying to see and experience it all, whether it be hiking, surfing, or exploring. The wealth of natural beauty is far beyond anything I’ve yet seen. I’ve taken advantage of that by visiting several parks, reserves, and beaches. So far, Pismo Preserve, a new nature reserve in Shell Beach, CA, is my favorite. I think it’s finally hit me – I’m working for the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife. What a dream come true! 

Agency: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Program: US Fish & Wildlife Service - DFP

Location: Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office

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