So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, Goodbye

Just as the children in the the classic film “The Sound of Music” said their goodbyes, I must also say mine. Unfortunately, my time with the Echinacea Project has been abruptly cut short, but such is life. I cannot think of anything that could have made this summer any better. We laughed, we cried, and we laughed some more. Everyday was a new adventure with a different challenge to overcome, but not even the toughest obstacle could bring down our team. We truly were a team. But even more than that, we were a family, in every sense of the word. We grew together, cared for each other, and challenged each other to reach our highest potential. I will never forget this experience, nor the friends I made along the way. As this summer comes to a close for the rest of the team, I hope everyone will view this ending with a positive outlook rather than with negativity. Yes, this is the finish of a wonderfully awesome situation, but with every ending comes a new beginning. And with every beginning comes opportunities for novel experiences and self-growth. So as I say my last farewell, let me leave you with this famous quote by Dr. Seuss: “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”

We Didn’t Start the Fire!

Well Billy Joel, although your 1980’s classic hit is all too catchy, technically we did start this fire.


(Our massive fire. Claire for reference)

Over the past weekend, Team Echinacea decided to cap off a week of diligent work with a nice, relaxing potluck paired with an epic campfire. The food was delicious, but the company was even more enjoyable. Stuart and Gretel provided a delectable pesto, Jared and Claire (aka Clairred) prepared a tasty bean dip, and Maureen capped off the scrumptious meal with a cherry pie and a peach crumble that were to die for (not literally of course! That would be ridiculous). Following the feast, a fire was started to honor the great Echinacea Gods, which have blessed us with a prosperous flowering season and delightful weather. There was a little bit of difficultly starting the fire, but no problem is too large for a group of extremely bright scientists (at least that what we tell ourselves anyway). During the fire, Per, Hattie, Elizabeth, and I tested our luck at a friendly game of badminton. I paired up with Per while Elizabeth chose Hattie as her partner. What started as a friendly matchup, quickly turned into a competitive, all-out battle of the sexes! It wasn’t long before Hattie and Per were spiking shuttlecocks at each other while Elizabeth and I exchanged looks of distaste. Fortunately, the gruesome battle was cut short when Per spiked the birdie so hard that the rubber tip fully detached from the plastic base portion. I think it’s safe to say that this particular birdie won’t be flying again anytime soon. Although some harsh words were exchanged (all in good faith of course), at the end of the day, all conflict was left in the past as the team enjoyed roasted marshmallows over melty chocolate sandwiched between two yummy, graham crackers. And if you don’t enjoy S’mores, the only thing I have to say to you is “You’re killing me smalls!” (If you didn’t get that reference, then you need to go watch The Sandlot immediately. If you’ve never heard of The Sandlot, then I’m sorry but it’s too late to save you). All in all, it was a memorable weekend for the members of Team Echinacea.

Busy as a Bee

With Echinacea’s flowering reaching its peak, there isn’t a better idiom to describe the team’s work schedule for the week. Remnant phenology, independent projects, and a large scale compatibility project are just a few of the tasks being carried out on a regular basis. As for the pollinator project Maureen and I have been working on, things are going great. After alternating back and forth between P1 and P2, we have accumulated over 60 observations, which is a little over half of what we are aiming for. Towards the beginning, we saw mostly small green bees, but recently we have started seeing more and more of the larger bees, such as Melisodes and Andrena. For example, we added 7 more Andrena observations just today, which more than tripled the Andrena observations we had up to this point. Things may be a little hectic at Team Echinacea headquarters, but this doesn’t mean we are all work and no play. Just tonight we enjoyed a post work bonfire with s’mores, badminton, and croquet. You might even say it was the…… bee’s knees!

And just in case this post didn’t contain enough corny pollinator references, here’s a couple of pictures of a pair of Melisodes teaching us a lesson about the Birds and the Bees.

gettin busy


The calm before the storm…

The past two weeks have gone great for Team Echinacea. We finished up measuring seedlings in Q2, set up flags for P1 and Hegg lake, as well as marked flowering plants in P1 and other remnant populations. Although these weeks have been fairly laid back, the pace is about to pick up very quick. With Echinacea beginning to flower, there is a lot of work to be done, whether it be independent projects or adding data to larger, long-term projects. To sum up, we have a lot of work ahead of us, but that’s what we at Team Echinacea look forward to!

And on a lighter note, here is a picture of an awesome, mutant Echinacea plant which has two almost identical flowering heads emerging from the same peduncle. This is the first plant of its type seen since the start of the Echinacea Project. Sorry about the blurriness, but you can still get the general idea.


Greetings from Keaton Holsinger!

Hello! My name is Keaton Holsinger and I am honored to be a member of the 2014 Team Echinacea. If you would like to find out more about me, check out my background at website. Also, just for fun, here is a picture of a fish I caught!


Another productive day in the field for Team Echinacea!

Tuesday’s morning started out similar to the past few mornings. The team worked on finding Echinacea seedlings and measuring them in the Quantitative Genetics plot 2 (a.k.a. Q2). We were a little worried that we would be rained out, but the gloomy, foggy weather quickly passed and the sun emerged to make for a beautiful day. The team split into pairs and measured multiple segments of seedlings. During this time, two members of the team, Jared Beck and Will Reed, discovered a rare Echinacea seedling with 3 cotyledons, also known as a tricot.

For the afternoon portion of Tuesday’s workday, we were introduced to Common Garden 1 (a.k.a. Experimental Plot 1), a site that has lead to numerous important findings concerning the biology of Echinacea. Some of these plants were planted as early as 1996! (fun fact: some of these plants may be as old as our youngest team member, Will Reed) The majority of the team spent the afternoon flagging a plethora of Echinacea plants, or points where Echinacea had once thrived but now cease to exist (may those plants now rest in peace). While we worked on flagging, Stuart was hard at work mowing in between the transects, creating an easily visible and safe walkway. Personally, I had the pleasure of working with Stuart and Gretel’s son Per. There was never a dull moment as we discussed funny pranks, the joys of having uncommon names, and the mystery/absurdity that is art. During this time, Per managed to concoct a ninja/airplane/bird out of old, flag-less pins (we couldn’t decide which one it was). All in all, it was a very productive, pleasant day in the field for Team Echinacea.

A picture of the electric tower near Q2 which illustrates the gloomy start to our day.


Here you can see the tricot discovered by Will and Jared.


The team hard at work in Experimental Plot 1


Finally, an interesting spider that Per and I found later identified as a Goldenrod Crab Spider