Weeks 3 and 4, in which there were many adventures!

What a crazy two weeks! I almost don’t even remember what happened in week three, so it’s really jogging my memory to revisit those events.

I guess my favorite thing that happened in week three was our visit to Oregon’s capital city, Salem. Josh and I sat in on a meeting at the Oregon State Marine Board, where the topic of boat inspections was discussed by members of the Oregon Invasive Species Council. Basically, a new Oregon law requires mandatory inspection of boats crossing the border into Oregon in order to prevent the spread of invasive species like quagga mussels. Previously, boat inspection was only voluntary, but of course very few people were stopping to have their boat inspected. The next step is to navigate the legislation regarding a police officer’s right to pull over a boat that looks suspiciously infested. In our meeting, no one was really sure whether or not that was legal. In any case, Oregon Invasive Species Council will be working with the Lewis and Clark Environmental Law Clinic to investigate further.

Afterwards, Sam Chan took Jen, Josh and I for a quick visit to the Capital Building, which I had never seen before. It was absolutely gorgeous! Gigantic paintings scaled the walls of the main room and a huge golden state seal glittered on the floor. The Senate met on one side of the building and the House of Representatives met on the other side, with the governor’s office somewhere in-between. The building had a magnificent dome that was topped on the outside by a golden pioneer, representing Oregon’s adventurous spirit. Salem is a beautiful, historically rich city and I would love the chance to spend more time there sometime soon.

Week four was dominated by da Vinci Days planning. Oh, and a four course meal! As part of our PROMISE internship, we have weekly luncheons on Tuesdays, and this one happened to be a four hour session on etiquette and proper behavior in networking situations. The food was absolutely delicious – red pepper bisque, salad, chicken and potatoes with a mushroom and bacon gravy, and cheesecake with fresh berries for dessert. Although we were instructed that it wasn’t about the food, my college student mind was capitalizing on the opportunity to have a fancy meal. Of course, I still learned quite a few etiquette tips. Spoon your soup away from you, butter each bite of bread individually, don’t completely clean your plate, and never set a utensil back on the table when you have used it.

Decked out in our landfill gear

The other event besides da Vinci Days was a really fun field trip to… well… the dump! Believe it or not, it was really interesting. The Coffin Butte Landfill off of Highway 99, north of Corvallis, was used for garbage disposal at least since World War II. Interestingly,the spot is not ideal for a landfill, since it is partially on a hill and it is easier to build landfills in valleys. Too bad they didn’t know that 70 years ago. The landfill is split into a series of cells, each of which holds vast amounts of compacted garbage. To prevent the leaching of chemicals, a thick plastic barrier sits underneath the landfill. So much work goes into preventing pollution and mitigating smell and runoff – it’s incredible to think about how much trash our society produces.

But, on the flip side, we also visiting the composting plant, which was inspiring. They produce mountains of compost that oftentimes end up in garden fertilizers. The process is lengthy, but worthwhile.

While we were there, we collected some invasive plants! They were yellow flag irises, a particularly plentiful aquatic invasive plant that has floating seeds and beautiful yellow flowers. Sam taught us about them and suggested we take them to the da Vinci Days booth, which we did. In this very same trip, we journeyed to Albany, where we searched for access to a lake that harbored some native turtle species. Unfortunately, we didn’t find a way to get to the lake, but we met a very nice lady and her cat.

An invasive species bouquet!

Also, sometime during the week, Tania Siemens, who proved herself to be an invasive plant encyclopedia, enlightened us by taking us on a tour of OSU campus, invasive species style! Our mission was to plan an outdoor activity for high school students for a session called Saturday Academy, which is happening this week. We didn’t expect to find many invasive plants on campus, but to our surprise, there were many of them! Tania guided us around the MU quad, pointing out English ivy, Old Man’s Beard, Tree of Heaven, Queen Anne’s Lace, and many more. My job this week was to make a checklist for an invasive plants scavenger hunt. The goal will be to find the invasive species on campus.

 

After that, it was time for Josh and I to get back to our da Vinci Days planning. We finished our tsunami poster, and we though it looked great… which it did, until it met the elements at da Vinci Days and was sorely defeated by the moist climate. However, most of da Vinci Days was a total success! We talked to lots of people, shared information on invasive species, gave out tons of free things (including awesome color changing pencils), and overall had a great time, despite the rainy Oregon weather. Kathryn Hawes from Hatfield Marine Science Visitor’s Center brought an awesome whale vertebrae and a laptop so that visitors could watch Ursula the octopus on the Octocam. Also, our tunicate in a water bottle and quagga mussel-encrusted shoe were quite popular. It’s been a busy couple of weeks and I’m looking forward to the remaining six weeks of the internship!

 

Josh sharing his vast wealth of watershed knowledge with the kids at da Vinci Days

 

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1 thought on “Weeks 3 and 4, in which there were many adventures!

  1. You aren’t kidding about a diverse week! I’m exhausted just reading about it. Thanks for sharing words and pictures – it gives a broad perspective on the way humans interact with the environment.

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