Written by: Carolyn Boyd
A week of new and exciting experiences and skills learned, under cover of lightning…this is one way to describe this past week in the Indiana Dunes.
As we began the week on Monday bright and early in the field, it was shaping up to be a fairly regular work day. The Teams split into an herbicide team and a planting team and the guys trained Emi how to properly mix and use herbicide in the wetlands, while Kristina and I planted with Adam in the unit. We arrived early into the field and with some of the heat abated this week and temperatures only reaching into the low 90s it was a welcome relief and we had a fairly productive day planting a mixture of species in unit 23.
Tuesday started fairly cool but turned much hotter as noon approached, and the teams finished herbiciding and planting. We spent the remainder of the day catching up with the updates for our final project we are to create. Related to the hot weather as of late, we’ve all been extremely depressed about the sad state of affairs many of the plants are facing. With the recent drought in what should be the rainy season, the continued absence of rain clouds is never far from thought, or our rose-bud-thorn meeting at the end of the day to discuss our good and bad experiences. From our tour of the JFNEW facility we learned that because of the drought, many of the plants have already produced seed and the number and quality of the seed is greatly reduced, and even if the rain does arrive, many cannot play “catch-up” to make up the deficits.
Some of these concerns we alleviated with the high possibly of rain the next two days. On Wednesday we went into the field with our bucketed plants and tools under the overcast sky, but as soon as we unloaded our plants we saw flashes and heard the first resounding rolls of thunder. So back to the safety of the truck to wait out the storms. Sadly after more than an hour the thunder still echoed and we joined team 2 at the Beverly Shores train station to wait some more. It rained for a while, but not really enough to make a difference. By 9:30am the storm had not passed so both teams loaded up and we adjourned to the NPS office to learn some greenhouse skills.
Our NPS contact Dan Mason came out to the greenhouse and taught us how to prepare the soil and properly transplant the young seedlings into the trays to mature. This day we mixed the teams up, and this was our first opportunity to work with members of the other team. Emi and I worked in the older greenhouse, and Kristina in the newer one (which would later prove to be a better choice with its improved ventilation system and air flow than the older building) while Patrick and Jason worked on reinforcing wooden pallets with the folks of the NPS for a board walk into Cowles Bog. After lunch we finished up our tasks, and with the skies clear and the sun shinning we returned to the field to plant at least a portion of our buckets.
Over Wednesday night and into the morning of Thursday though, our wish for rain was met, and not counting the power outage and ice run before work, we were extremely thankful for the 3-4 inches of rain that fell. At least practically replenishing the wetland water levels, nothing makes you happier than hearing that tell tale squishy noise a trowel makes in properly saturated soils. But early that morning, we still had to work in the greenhouse for a portion because of the lightning, but the routine was broken again when we assisted the NPS crews installing the pallet walkway, using the fire line technique to move the 249 wooden pallets farther into the bog to connect with the Walker trail. Mission accomplished and some a little sore and bruised with the awkward work of pallet moving, we returned to the field and continued planting in unit 23 and we are now 2/3 of the way completed with this unit.
Aside from planting the many species of flora today we also experienced quite the range of fauna today. We started with a praying mantis in the greenhouse, a Black and Yellow Garden Spider sighting by Jason, so wiggling mayfly larva by Emi, a leopard frog by Patrick, and the highlight of our day, the snapping turtle at lunch. This turtle was hanging out in the shade of our water cooler, and after kindly sticking around for our photo shoot, retreated to the newly refilled standing water the side of the spillway were we prep our plants and tools in the field. And all of this aside from our normal sand hill crane and heron sightings. Too bad the camera is not always turned on and at the ready to catch the true breadth of animals we experience everyday, especially after the rain we animals started to return to the wet areas.
Another work related activity we did was participate in the NPS Volunteer Appreciation Picnic on Saturday at the Bailey Homestead, and aside from delicious food and games of bingo and water balloon tossing, we got to meet the other volunteers for the park and hear about the other numerous activities going on in the park. After the picnic we rounded of the beautiful day with a dual team hike down the Cowles Bog trail to Lake Michigan so a nice quiet afternoon on the beach. So while this was a wild week of switching jobs and feeling like we were on a wildlife safari, and dodging lightning storms, we learned some new skills, finely received some rain we’ve been hoping for, and met some very nice volunteers from the park, and got some great shots of the interesting work we do every day. All and all a pretty good week.
Behind the Scenes 
It was our first full work week with our new Japanese intern, Emi. Last week, we had more of a transition/training week for our new roommate and co-worker. She was quick to pick up our routine and has been adapting nicely. But now it was time to really get our hands dirty out in the Great Marsh. We headed out for a week filled with planting and herbiciding. We decided to split the duties within our team to have one team plant the area herbicided from the day before, while the other team herbicided the next area we would plant in. The system thus far, has worked out great. We are moving at a better pace, which may also be due to the awesome weather we have been encountering. I will take working in the mid 80s over 100 degree weather any day. Before, I could barely stand the heat but I have been able to adapt accordingly.
At the end of the week, we had the opportunity to tour the JFNew Greenhouse! It not only gave us a chance to see where our plants come from, but also to further explore Indiana, to see what work is put into growing these plants, how a multi-dimensional greenhouse operates, seed processing tools and techniques, and career prospects. The hour long journey to the greenhouse reminded me a lot of the central valley in California. Just field after field after field of farmland. Not really much else out there. A house here and there and your corner store gas stations filled the rest. Upon our arrival, we realized we were an hour late! We crossed over to the eastern time zone but it ended up working out anyway.
The tour began in the offices and quickly moved into the shipping garage and storage, which also included refrigerated storage. It was mostly filled with seeds and packaging materials. We promptly found out that most of what they actually send out isn't plants, its seed. They collect it from their production fields and sometimes private properties, which are then brought back to JFNew to dry. We next entered their seed processing garage where they had many unique machines to clean seeds ranging from antiques to gravity machines. We learned the seeds are then packed up, labeled, and stored. Moving from the garages, we walked out to their production fields where they collect most of their seed from. The fields seemed endless! We then moved to their green houses and wetland nurseries. After the tour was over, I learned that JFNew has a knack for paying attention to details and from the vast amount of fields, endless plants, and what seemed like infinite seed, JFNew definitely knows what they are doing and do not carelessly go through their routines. They learn from their mistakes and adapt accordingly. They not only understand the importance of maintaining data, but to also utilize it to their benefit, which can invent, experiment or alter processes to ensure they get the most out of what they have. They also provide numerous other services including permitting, restoration, and ecological consulting. For anyone in restoration practices, I would highly recommend visiting their plant source. It was an excellent opportunity to see how a greenhouse operates and has inspired me to look into working in greenhouses.
P.s. Unfortunately JFNew does not allow photography within their quarters so you will have to imagine the tour I described above.
Hella Holiday Heat 
Written by: Kristina Pechacek
The start of this week was very interesting. Through looking forward to the weather plans for the week. It was going to be torturous with the heat and the humidity. This week we were going to have heat index being well over 100 degrees for several days. Monday was really nice, because we got to sleep in a little later. Monday was the day we got to give our presentation for the Japanese Interns. The Dunes Team 2 did a good job presenting to them. Mostly talked about what the beginning of the day is like and the tools that they would be using. Along with that information, they talked about personal protective equipment that we would be using in the work field. Team 2 also talked about the job hazard assessment and the most important part by taking 5 for safety. The Japanese Interns Emi and Wakana were quiet but they seemed to understand what was being said and talked about. Then we decided to take a break and play an activity, it was so hot but so much fun.
On Tuesday it was much hotter, we started the day out a little later and did a walk through on how to install the plants we work with. Patrick went with Emi to show her the poisonous plants so that way she didn't touch them by accident. Which, the whole team has done accidently several times, so knowing those plants for her would be very beneficial. Going through the day and getting ready to start, Carolyn was showing Emi what the tools did and why we were planting in this area, following what we were planting. Emi became ill from the heat, she was just exhausted already from the heat and it was only 8:30am, luckily she made a quick recovery after drinking more water and taking a rest. So you can see how hot it got so fast in the morning. I feel we should start work at 3am instead of our normal 6am because it gets so hot so fast recently that it just drains everybody. Especially our water! By noon we were pretty much out of water out of our several gallon water cooler jug. Throughout the rest of the day was slow just because of the heat.
On Wednesday we had the day off because of the holiday. That was really nice, also because we had an extremely hot day again of around 100 degrees. We decided to have a fourth of July lunch with the 2 teams together. We had potato salad, burgers, lemonade, corn, watermelon. All the most American food we could think of for Emi and Wakana to try. Through the rest of the day we hung out at the pool and cooled off, but when that wasn’t even enough we went inside in the AC to watch movies.
On Thursday we got a very nice surprise from Adam our team leader; we got our SCA backpacks. They are so nice and I’m so happy to have my pack now. I’m afraid to use it in fear of getting it dirty because it is so nice. We packed up the plants for the day and the water to head to the field. We also brought herbicide so that way 3 could plant and 3 could herbicide. Jason, Patrick and I herbicide in a new part of the unit and Adam, Emi, Carolyn planted in the same unit just in a different section for safety reasons. We got a lot of planting in and a lot of herbicide work in so we have more room to plant later. But by 11am it had reached 95 degrees and humidity was extremely high. For a good example of what that's like, picture taking a shower and then think about that just being your sweat that is how high the humidity was. You are literally soaked in your own sweat a very uncomfortable feeling. So we called it quits, because it was only going to get worse from then on that day. Despite how hot and humid it was to lead to such a depressing blog. I’m happy to say we still got done a huge section of herbicide for future planting and a lot of planting in our old sections, also that Emi is picking up planting very quickly. Hopefully next week won’t feel like Death Valley mixing with high humidity!
Cruel Sun 
Written by: Patrick Maloney
This past week saw some exciting times as our team continued to plant on the open soil of Unit 23 and awaited the arrival of our new intern from Japan, Emi. We built upon the skills developed over the past few weeks which capped off with planting 2200 plants in one day, nearly 300 more than any other day so far. Our high numbers are helped by the fact that we are planting mostly the sedge Carex stricta, which can be planted in large populations and in straight rows. With a practice we found that a three person team can really get some speed going. To top it off, Adam did some number crunching and found that so far, we have installed 10,229 plants into the Great Marsh!
As we finished up with the open space of Unit 23, Jason and I strapped on herbicide packs and began spraying the cattails on the perimeter of our workspace and did some touch up work where we had noticed some sprouts popping up. Carolyn and Kristina went back to a previous week’s site to put a few more plants in the space that opened up after cattail we had sprayed died. With the help of Adam in the afternoon for a bit they put in over 1000 plants, not too shabby guys!
We got lucky on Thursday. With the weather forecast predicting a heat index in the high 110's the park superintendent declared that no one work outside unless absolutely required so we were blessed with an office day. We used it to do last minute touch ups on our plant guide and presentation for the two interns from Japan who we look forward to meeting!
Born and raised in Massachusetts I was able to visit and camp in the wonderful landscapes of the Northeast including White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire, and the beautiful coastal areas of New England. I spent many of my summers working at camps and developed an even stronger interest in nature. I went to college in Upstate New York and graduated with a B.A. in Environmental Science. Afterwards I interned with the Charles River Watershed Association based in Weston, Massachusetts. Now I find myself working here at the park and am looking forward to a great 6 months helping to restore some of the marshland and collaborate with a great crew.
Written By: Carolyn Boyd
WANTED: Person(s) willing to begin the day at 5:30 am and work till about 5:30pm, plant and identify endless buckets and trays of carex and scirpus species, operate a brush cutter, willingness to target and eradicate invasive intruders and upland species which have invaded the wetland domain with a 3.5 gallon tank of plant deadly blue power aid on their back and some near Hazmat gear. Your own waders required to go traipsing about in hip deep muck, work in adverse heat and rain, little to no breeze at times and gale force winds at others, willingness to wring out excess sweat from clothing, and reapply sunscreen at regular intervals a must, ninja skills in poison plant avoidance always a plus, and you might need some skills in PowerPoint as well. Little pay, but awesome muscles, farmer's tans and plant identification skills gained along the way.........
Luckily, we already have a crew and another crew member on the way, willing to take on these tasks and many more to come in the following months. A new member of our team will shortly be joining our 4 person team to make us a quintet for the months of July and August. As the first Corps team to host international interns, we will be experiencing many new challenges in the next weeks to overcome. This week has been such a whirlwind of tasks completed. Not only were the tasks drastically switched from day to day, but our sites and weather as well. Just a few challenges to get us geared up for the difficulties ahead.
Our days start bright and early from now until the fall at the coffee-required-to-function hour of 5:30 am when we leave our apartment to complete the vehicle inspection and head out to the National Park
Service Office to start at 6:00am. The grounds are eerily quiet at this hour, as most others won't start to arrive for another hour or so. We have the greenhouse and tools to ourselves now. Not only will we be avoiding the rush of the various other teams using the work spaces at the office, but we also hope to beat some of the heat of the coming day. Today is our last full day of planting in Unit 31 of the Great Marsh, so we bucket up trays of Carex stricta, Carex aquatilus, Scirpus pungens, and our ever so wonderful Scirpus validus (the plant we all love to hate, being as its a very fragile plant and likes to tear out of its tray and is planted in small groups and very spread out in the marsh, not like the large group population loving carexes.) Monday turned into a scorcher, but a pretty productive day none the least.
Today we separated the team into an herbicide team and a trail team. Kristina and I tackled spraying the stragglers from last week’s herbicide efforts and hiking into the mud to treat the ever resilient Typha x. glauca (aka hybrid cattail). Strapped into our tanks of blue dyed herbicide we set out to treat the remaining pockets in Unit 31 and then moving into the new Unit 23. Unit 23 was sprayed by a contractor in 2011 and the dead cattails flattened and planted into by various groups. Kristina sprayed the already 6 to 8 foot tall stands of cattails in the north part of the section, and I made a grid pattern of spraying the stragglers left from the previous seasons spraying and plantings. The baby cattails springing up from the rhizomes of their dead forebears continued to be a issue later in the week to fight because they are so small and numerous, but we'll just keep spot treating as needed and hopefully get the native species we plant to crowd them out. Meanwhile, while we were spraying, Jason and Patrick were cutting a trail along the old Constance roadbed from the old housing development. This will ease out travels carrying back trays and buckets of plants in the coming weeks. This patch was not quite at laden with trees and vines as the last trail we made on the Wells road, but littered with much more poison ivy and poison sumac. We'll try out best to avoid these native, but nasty, floras.
Today we employed more of our brain skills and took an office day taking over the library to start our guide book on native, invasive, and poisonous plants. This day was mainly geared toward our Japanese intern who will be joining our team on July 1st. The guide will also be useful to future teams including the plants scientific names, NPS codes, common name(s), planting instructions, moisture thresholds, and species to confuse it with. It also contains identification of invasive and poisonous plants and how to eradicate or avoid them. Part of this day was also making a presentation for the new intern's training sessions in early July, as well as trying out our new data entry spreadsheets. Definitely a switch from the heat and humidity of the marsh to the air conditioned quietness inside the Chesterton Public Library.
After our air conditioned lull of office work we're back in the field and ready to do some more planting. As we leave unit 31 and move into 23, new challenges and rewards abound. The ground is easier to traverse, and easier to plant populations without all the stomping down of rice cut grass, but previous erratic planting and baby cattail plants are everywhere. We flagged out the area in the far south section and, as two and four man teams, start to plant. The morning was sunny and cooler than the heat of the rest of the week, but by lunch we had planted all the buckets of Carex stricta, and most of the Carex pellita and Scirpus lineatus we carried out down our newly constructed trail. We headed back to the office to get more plants and the rain started. But we all got to test out the rain-proofing of our new rain gear as we bucketed another 20 trays of Carex stricta in a down pour. And back to the field to plant in the rain and when it died off another few hours of relativity cool planting. In total we planted 56 trays of plants. Another record broken (38 plants a tray X 56 trays = 2128 plants). A record surely to be broken as we learn the best methods and everyone’s planting rhythms.
In all a week full of heat, cold, mud, power tools, and computer skills, this week turned out to be a nice work week and lots of goals accomplished. We are looking forward to the next week of planting and more preparation for the arrival of our new teammate.
Written by: Jason Prado
Our first work week in the boggy wetlands of the Indiana Dunes National Park was a bit hectic, yet we accomplished a lot. It primarily consisted of fixing beat up chainsaws, learning natives plant species, and clearing a path in the Great Marsh, which resulted in 508 foot trail for future planting. But entering Monday morning, we had little idea of what to expect for our work week. Those questions were shortly answered after we got in that morning.
After weeks of debriefing, training, and building trails, the time has finally come to PLANT! It is safe to assume our crew had been waiting to plant since we first arrived in Chesterton. I remember our first ride around the Indiana Dunes with Adam, he said restoring a degraded site is similar to painting a picture. Although you are not necessarily left with an empty canvas, your work will have an influence upon the environment that will slowly develop into your desired portrait. The plants replace the paint and the portrait reveals itself as a functioning, self-sustaining ecosystem. I know we are all looking forward to seeing our hard work develop into an exceptional piece of art.
Monday, June 11: After receiving our orders to plant for the day, we loaded the bed of the truck with dibble sticks, hand trowels, copious amounts of water, and as many native plant as we could fit, including Carex stricta, Carex pellita, Scirpus pendulus, Physostegia virginiana, Chelone glabra. (A list of the plants used and fought against this week will be included at the end of this entry.) Our crew was assigned to unit 31 of the Great Marsh, which is part of the former site of the Beverly Shores housing development. We divided our crew into teams of 2 consisting of 1 dibbler and 1 planter. We had an impressive first day with 1200 plants planted in the blistering heat. The following days were pretty similar to Monday with the exception of Thursday.
Tuesday, June 12: We began the day loading the truck in similar fashion as to the day before, but with a few new characters, including Scirpus validus, Carex aquatilus and Iris virginica. (Note: Although Scirpus validus has recently been reclassified and renamed to Schoenoplectus tabernaemonatani, the Dunes National Park has yet to recognize the change. Thus, to avoid further confusion, we will use its former name in accordance with the park.) It wasn't as nearly as hot as the day before, which we were all thankful for but we only managed to plant a little less than 1000 plants because we called it an early day. We did implement a new planting method using a 3 person team, including someone creating planting holes, someone tossing in the plants, and a planter. It was very effective when planting populations.
Wednesday, June 13: On our third day of planting, we set out with a team of Carex stricta, Carex aquatilus, Scirpus validus, and Carex lucustra. The new and old faces allowed us to explore all areas of our unit, since they preferred different depths of water. We planted our highest total yet, 1256 plants.
Thursday, June 14: The last day of the work week brought a new objective. With the lack of native plants at the greenhouse and the reemergence of invasive populations within our unit, we strapped on backpacks filled with roughly 3-4 gallons of herbicide and spot treated an acre and a half of our unit. The packs were killer on our shoulders and backs but we are all looking forward to the spaces we cleared for planting in the upcoming week
The Good Guys:
Carex aquatilus (water sedge)
Carex lacustris (common lakeshore sedge)
Carex pellita (woolly sedge)
Carex stricta (common tussock sedge)
Chelone glabra (white turtlehead)
Iris virginica (southern blue flag)
Physostegium virginiana (false dragon-head)
Scirpus validus (softstem-bulrush)
Phalaris arundinacea (reed canary grass)
Phragmites australis (common reed)
Typha x. glauca (hybrid cattail)
Solanum dolcamara (bittersweet nightshade)
Written by: Carolyn Boyd
The Days before Training May 16th-May 20th
We finally arrive. To this far off place in Chesterton Indiana, by plane and by car we are picked up and shuttled off to our new home for the next 6 months. It’s hard to believe this is happening and we are able to participate in the SCA Native Plant Corps and work on the wetlands. At the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore we will be partnered with the folks of the National Park Service to help them in their mission to restore the beautiful 15,000 sites of fragmented wetlands. Many of us have little experience in the field on this scale. It will be a challenge to be overcome, with a little hard work, but a great addition to our work skills and further progress toward our own conservation ideals.
The majority of the two teams working on the Indiana Dunes first met on the 16th of May. And before the whirlwind of training that would later take place, we received a few precious moments to relax and settle in. We also got to view the sites we will be working on and meet a few of the park staff. We learned that the wetlands have gone through a lot of changes in the decades since this area was first settled. A majority of the changes involved draining the marshes and bogs for agriculture, industry, and residential areas. This drainage gave way to a great many tree species to grow in what would have been several inches to feet of water. The land has since been cleared of many of the residential sites, only the small remnants of roads and concrete remain, with the occasional refrigerator or tire to mark human settlement.
Many of the different bogs and fens and marsh which make up the site have been heavily encroached upon in recent years by the hybridized version of a native and European species of cattail. This virulent strain not only grows to tower by as much as 12 feet tall, but also crowds thickly and spreads by rhizome root structures so that it chokes out other native species. Its only saving grace is that with the hybridization, the cattail cannot spread by seed. Much of our work this summer and into the fall will be spraying the cattail with herbicide and planting of native species in their place.
Aside from viewing the dunes and the wetlands and facilities, the extra days gave us a little time to explore the small town of Chesterton, population circa 10,000. It’s a very beautiful area with numerous bike-able paths, urban green space, and feeling of community. Accesses to the beaches along Lake Michigan are always an added bonus.
Native Plant Corps Work Day
The next day at training we met with the various Native Plant Crew teams to go into the field for some hands on training in grubbing out invasive species of Himalayan Black Berry and planting native sword ferns in their places. After so many days sitting around, inside or in small workshops, it’s what we all really needed, just to dig our hands into the soil and get dirty. It was a good day, and the first day to finally work as a team with our whole completed teams. Later that night the Trail crews were having a trail derby to test the trail building skills they had been learning the last few days, and a plant team was made (including two of our very own) to test our skills. Having no experience really with trails and after some crazy flipping through the guide provided we created a very beautiful trail system in miniature. In our opinion, one of the most beautiful trails, or at least the one with the most plants upon it. Complete with water drainage systems, a suspension bridge, log steps, endangered snail sanctuaries, it was definitely in the running, sadly we only received the prize of “The best trail made by a non-trail crew team,” but you can only show them up so much I guess and it surely was a fun night.
The next and final certification of the training was chainsaw certification with the Game of Logging. This system practices perseverance, precision, perfect practice so that we might safely use the chainsaw and be aware of the hazards involved. Chainsaw certification proved most challenging for some, but by the end everyone was certified to operate a chainsaw, even those of us which had never picked up a chainsaw before were felling trees and limbing and bucking logs by the end of the long third day. These skills also came into practice in the field much sooner than we expected in the next week.
Final day and travel back the Indiana.
So on the final days, we bid our farewells to the other corps members as they left to start their seasons. We’ve made some good friends and connections in the past few days, but bigger things await and wetland planting must begin soon. So off we fly back to Chicago and drive back to Chesterton Indiana. Then proceed to indulge in life sweetest pleasures—in the terms of sleeping in past 6am and having hot showers….although nothing could compare with the amazing meals which were prepared for us in those 10 days by the wonderful cooking staff.
First week of Work June 4th-7th
Day 1...see the plants, feel the plants, learn the plants
We start bright and early by transplanting plants from microcosm tubs for replanting into the field and learning and studying the plants we’ll be using the next 6 months. Truly so many shades of green, and so little time to learn them all. With time and a little studying, we can surely come to master some of the plants on the wetlands, or at least the ones we don’t want to tangle with, such as poison ivy.
Day2...Indiana Dunes and Searching for the Lost Trail
The second day began with chainsaw and brush cutter work to clear a trail on the Great Marsh. Aside from a slight detour and beginning our morning on the wrong sections we quickly recovered and started in on the right trail following an old road bed of the old housing development. It was hard going and required cutting through tangled brush and vines, downed trees, rotten logs, close set Aspen trees, Wild Rose, the dreaded Poison Ivy, and equipment malfunctions and dull blades. Not quite as easy as the straight Douglas Firs we learned to cut down in faraway Washington State. But we finished with some smiles on our faces and set out the next day to fix our equipment.
Day 3...chainsaw parts chase
Riding around finding chainsaw parts and trying to find appropriately sized waders took up most of our morning this day, but we came away with some parts, some sharpening tools, and one pair of waders from a local outdoor store. Back at the site we spent the rest of the afternoon still battling with chainsaw equipment problems, but we managed to cut farther down the road the rest of the day.
Day 4...more trail work...didn’t know we joined a trail crew? :)
After a quick jaunt into Michigan City for a couple more chainsaw parts, we started our final day of clearing trail. Today the routine of clearing tangled brush and working with the rest of the team as a unit really started to show with good communication skills and the end goal in site, or at least it was made more clear after we encountered a quite swampy section of the marsh and could no longer clear trail at least from this side without waders. Our NPS supervisor surveyed our work and seemed very impressed with the work which was done. This trail will make it much easier for planting crews to come in and access the marsh and have a place to stash their plants during and at the end of the day. So we’ve finally finished the trail and cleaned it up a bit around the edges. Trail success, with approximately 500 feet of usable trail into the marsh section. Put the chainsaw certification to good use, learned how to use a new power tool, and more about proper maintenance of the chainsaw equipment. A pretty good first week, looking forward to what they throw at us next week.
I am originally from Hastings, MN born and raised. I decided to go to North Dakota State University for college. It might not be the prettiest place to live, but it was a great education and great people there. I just graduated from there with a Major in Natural Resource Management with a minor in Anthropology. I was part of several clubs and rugby both to which I will miss dearly. Last summer I was able to work in Glasgow, Montana with the FWP. My job title was aquatic education and park management. It was one of the best experiences of my life. Over that summer I got to see Yellowstone National Park for the first time, which was amazing. This is my first time working with the SCA and being excited is an understatement. Throughout my college career and more I have worked at a YMCA as a swim instructor, lifeguard, and lifeguard instructor. So when I'm not in school/library studying or at work I love to play rugby, to swim, and exercise in general really. I love to cook and garden. I love music and movies to the extreme. I'm so excited to share this experience with everyone.
I grew up in North East Oregon, a beautiful region with snow capped mountains and blue green forests. I spent much of my youth camping, fishing, hiking, and riding our horses into the Wallowa-Witman National Forest. I attended college at the University of Idaho, in Northern Idaho on the Palouse, a lovely region of rolling hills and endless wheat fields. I acquired a B.S. Degree in Environmental Science in 2011. I was a part of many different clubs working on environmental and natural resource issues around the community, including a 3 year internship working on a wetland. I participated in the SCA in 2010 as a visitor service intern for the Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area in Wyoming and Utah. When not at school I enjoy traveling the world, and just got back from traveling SE Asia after studying abroad for my last semester. I love to garden, love cooking, watching movies and documentaries, as well as playing in the mud and water in the wetlands, but who wouldn't? That's half the fun of working on the wetlands.
My name is Jason Prado and I graduated with a B.S. in Environmental Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara. I grew up in a small town called Ripon, which is located in California's central valley. After high school, I was admitted into San Francisco State University where I spent two years before transferring to UC Santa Barbara. This is where I took my first environmental studies class and shortly thereafter, discovered my deep passion for the environment. I declared environmental studies as my major and essentially committed the rest of my life to protecting the environment. While at UC Santa Barbara, I served as research assistant for the D'Antonio lab where I worked on numerous projects related to plant ecology.
After graduating, I moved back to San Francisco and have spent nearly a year and a half in this wonderful city but have terribly missed being in nature, studying the environment, and getting my hands dirty. Upon more reflection, I decided it was time to move on and find work related to my degree, which brought me to SCA. The more I learned about the association, the more I knew this was what I wanted to do. This is my first SCA experience and I am looking forward to getting as much out of it as possible.
Outside my passion for the environment, I also am very fond of music and everything related to it. I also enjoy cycling, basketball, reading, San Francisco, disc golf, good conversation, and fun people!
The Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore represents a unique ecological history beginning with the retreat of the last great continental glacier approximately 14,000 years ago. The park currently consists of 15,000 acres spanning 15 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline representing four major successive stages of historic shorelines. Indiana Dunes is one of the most extensive geologic records of the largest complex of freshwater lakes in the world. In the late 1800s several scientific publications had been published featuring the entomology and botany of the Indiana Dunes and in 1916 the National Dunes Association was formed. Public approval for the formation of a National Park was at an all time high; however, the onset of World War I prevented this plan from becoming a reality until 1966.
The area of the park formerly known as the Great Marsh was formed over 4,000 years ago between the Tolleston dunes on the north and the Calumet dunes on the south. This area was an open body of water fed by a single watershed and emptying into Lake Michigan through Dunes Creek. Over time this body of water changed to include conifer swamp, wet prairie, fen, bog, sedge meadow, and marsh. Today, the remaining 205 acres of the Great Marsh stretch only twelve miles with an average width of one-half mile. These collections of wetlands, including Cowles Bog National Landmark, are now known as Cowles Bog Wetland Complex (CBWC).
The CBWC gained recognition in the early 1900s for its unique biodiversity and landscape. It would take Chicago residents a full day of travel to the north to see the same biological diversity they could find by travelling only ninety minutes east to the area then known as Mineral Springs Quaking Bog and Mineral Springs Tamarack Swamp. Its proximity to Chicago made it a highly visited and studied area. Henry Chandler Cowles published a paper in 1899 entitled, “Ecological Relations of the Vegetation on Sand Dunes of Lake Michigan.” For this seminal work, he was later recognized as one of the fathers of plant ecology. The area was first referenced as Cowles Bog in 1923 by Herman Kurz, a student of Henry Cowles at the University of Chicago.
It seems like just yesterday that I was gearing up to lead the 2011 Native Plant Corps team here at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. Now, a year later I'm at it again and even more excited to be coming back to INDU for a second season!
I grew up on a farm in southern New Jersey before moving to Virginia to go to college. During college I served with SCA as a Conservation Intern at Shenandoah National Park. I graduated with a B.A. of Environmental Science and have been working with SCA ever since. I've led crews in Mammoth Cave National Park, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, and Everglades National Park. I've also been lucky enough to be part of a couple SCA leader crews in Point Reyes National Seashore and the Mojave Desert.
When I'm not off globetrotting with SCA I spend my time gardening, reading, hiking, camping, geeking out at National Parks, and pretty much doing anything that lets me get outside and enjoy some fresh air. Come to think of it, my hobbies are pretty much the same as my SCA work...go figure.