Morgan Watkins: Week 1 Recap
No way we have only been in this program one week! I cannot even begin to contemplate all the amazing things I have learned so far. I’ve learned so much about forestry and natural resources, wildlife, the awesome interns and mentors that are participating in this research experience, and even myself. Coming into this program I felt a little worried that I wasn’t experienced enough and that I didn’t know enough facts about trees, plants, or the wildlife we have in Indiana. I didn’t need to be worried though, because I have never met a group of people more eager to help teach and learn from each other. We all come from incredibly different backgrounds, have a variety of knowledge, and we do a great job of using each other to fill in each other’s gaps to help one another.
This week I learned a lot about how to be safe in the woods. There is so much that I hadn’t considered, like the fact that long pants and quality hiking boots can make such a difference in preventing bugs and scratches on your legs. Or, that you can’t just go out into the wilderness with just a water bottle. You need to be prepared for any situation and need things like a flashlight, a Swiss army knife, a first aid kit, bug spray, sunscreen, a GPS, a roll of toilet paper, a spoon (for food as well as other uses like ant lions!), and most importantly, a plan. You also have to be prepared if other people have accidents and need to know if a person with you has asthma and where their inhaler is, or if they are allergic to anything like bees and need an epi pen, or even if they have hypoglycemia and will need a snack later. Being prepared is about being conscious of others as well as yourself, and considering any potential circumstance so that everything runs smoothly.
It was fun getting to put my new knowledge into action when me and my partner Alexis, team mammals, got to go set up and test out our cameras and sound recorders this past Friday with help from the other mammals team and our mentors. We had never seen or used wildlife cameras or sound recorders like sm4’s and bat minis before. Only two days after developing our research plan, we had to figure out how to use and set them up so we could put our research plan into action. It was challenging fleshing out all of the details of our project and figuring out what was going to work and what wasn’t. Designing my own research project is very new to me and there are so many different variables to be considered, so it’s easy to be impatient and want to figure out something fast without spending the time necessary to understand it. But, if there is one major thing I have learned this week, it is that patience is key. You can’t rush research or exploration. You also need to understand how important your partners and teamwork are. Without Alexis, I would not have been able to figure out how to turn what I wanted to research into an actual research project. I’m so excited to see how our project will turn out by the end of these 8 weeks and I’m hoping to use some of this newfound knowledge when educating the high schoolers at McCutcheon High School next week!