Greetings from Needles, California, home of Snoopy’s brother Spike.
It is also home to the BLM office where I will be interning for the next five months. As it turns out, Needles did NOT get its name because of all the cacti. It doesn’t have anything to do with knitting or sewing either. The “Needles” are two mountain peaks that stick out a little funny.
You may be wondering, “What does a botany intern do?” The short answer is: Stuff. The more accurate answer is: collect seed from wild plants, hike up extinct volcanoes, eat lunch at the summit of extinct volcanoes, collect plant tissue samples, hang out with tortoises, identify and monitor sensitive, rare, and invasive plant populations, plot data point on GIS maps, and drive all over the field office. (The field office is roughly 2.2 million acres of desert.) I also learned how to change a tire!
I always thought of deserts as kind of empty and desolate, but the truth is that there’s lots of life in the desert—it’s just very different from what one might find in the Upper Midwest. Here are a few examples: