by Luana Sencio
After being contacted about the opportunity to work for the Abandoned Mine Land Division (AML), my days filled with excitement. Going into my senior year of college, I felt like something was missing. I had been yearning to get out in the field and experience a day-in-the-life of those who work in environmental sciences.
One of the first topics I was exposed to since my first day of work was the importance of effective restoration. BRS’s Senior engineer Harold Hutson showed the AML team and I the difference between standard reclamation and reclamation done with geomorphology technology. It was clear that the geomorphology software helped reclamation projects look more natural and continuous as well as more efficient for plant growth.
From week one, another important concept was emphasized. Throughout my environmental classes at UW, my professors have often explained the importance of cooperative work in the field. Although this had been ingrained in my head through endless group assignments and exercises, this was my first time seeing it first hand in the workplace. During my internship, AML staff worked with various types of clients. From engineers, to wildlife conservationists, to soil and plant scientists, highly knowledgeable groups of professionals were put together to tackle projects. Needless to say, I was beyond thrilled to be a part of these teams and help them in any way I could. Josh Oakleaf, AML staff member, who was my primary mentor this summer, emphasized the importance of being able to have successful relationships between AML and its clients in order to have efficient management and projects. It was great exposure for me to be a part of observing how these relationships were handled.
As someone who did not grow up in the western U.S, I was eager to travel around the state of Wyoming during my internship. This summer I was able to tag along for project site visits in some of the most beautiful places I have ever been to. From camping in the Bighorns to driving around Bridger National Forest and Black Hills National Forest, my summer was filled with new beautiful places. By getting to travel on my own as a young woman in the beginning of my environmental career, this experience also established a sense of security and confidence in myself and willingness to travel for work.
Aside from this, having the AML staff take me under their wing and share their stories and knowledge with me was by far my favorite part of my internship. I feel so encouraged to work hard and keep learning in order to establish my future career in a field I love alongside others that share similar passions. I felt so welcomed, heard, and supported by the staff and that is something I will never forget. I could not have asked for a better experience.