Winter Internship Week 2

This past week, I continued work on multiple projects. I continued to recheck and label cleaned Echinacea heads, growing the supply of achenes that are ready to be scanned, so that we can keep the samples moving through the steps. I also spent considerable time on randomizing. I resorted the informative and uninformative achenes from some of the 2013 and 2014 collection so that they are organized in the same way as more recent samples and so protocol is consistent across the board. After resorting was complete, I did the standard randomization protocol on achenes from 2018.

In addition to working with the Echinacea collection, I continued to organized the native bee collection. One task in particular has been going through the specimens, checking the SPID numbers, and checking them off on a data sheet to confirm which specimens still exist in the collection and which ones have been removed or discarded. I have labeled each smaller box within the cases with Roman numerals and have recorded on the data sheet in which box each specimen can be found. I will continue this project in the last few days of my internship and hopefully complete it so that there is a definite record of the specimens in the native bee collection.

Winter Internship Week 1: Native Bee Collection and Research Procedures

During my first week, I have learned how to perform many of the tasks involved in processing specimens and collecting data. I have particularly enjoyed working with the native bee collection. I have assigned SPID numbers and have organized some of the specimens by grouping them together based on size and other qualities such as color and marking patterns. I am beginning to develop an eye for identifying differences between bees and am becoming more familiar with the characteristics of the various genera we are classifying them into. Examining the bees under the microscope has been especially interesting. I have been interested in bees for quite a while but have never had the opportunity to see them in such detail before. The information I already knew about bee morphology became more tangible when I could see the features so closely.

Besides working with the bee collection, I have made progress on rechecking and labeling Echinacea heads. We seemed to be behind on this task, but I have been working through many heads, getting them ready to be scanned so that we can keep them moving through the data processing steps. I plan to continue working on rechecking and labeling this week, as well as randomizing. I also hope to learn several new lab skills and continue to grow my understanding of the research process.

Short-term Internship: Exploring Conservation Research

My name is Anna Stehlik and I am participating in a short-term internship at the Chicago Botanic Garden during my school’s winter term this January. I am a senior at DePauw University studying environmental biology and am a part of the Environmental Fellows Program which is an environmentally- an sustainability-based honors program. I am also involved with the Sustainability Leadership Program and have been a campus farm intern for the past several years. On the campus farm, I have helped to establish a bee hive and deliver pollinator education programs to local school groups. I first became interested in pollinator health and habitat when my family began beekeeping about seven years ago and I focused my Girl Scout Gold Award project on creating a honey bee education program. I am also an avid hiker and spend my summers working at a backpacking ranch in the mountains of New Mexico. This past summer at the ranch, I had the opportunity to teach about the plants and wildlife in the area as well as the history of wildlife conservation.

My passion for the outdoors has driven me to pursue an education and career in environmental biology and conservation. I am very excited to explore the work done in the conservation lab here at the Chicago Botanic Garden. On my first day, I have learned about the fragmentation of prairie habitat and the work done here to learn how purple coneflower is affected. So far, I have been able to clean and process Echinacea flower heads to remove the achenes, and have also gotten to count achenes on scanned images.