Sunday, February 13, 2011

Aspiring? Yes...yes, indeed

Since I began my blog, I have been confronted by several people unhappy about the title of my blog:
"You ARE an ecologist" they say, "not an aspiring ecologist!"
To you kind-hearted and well-meaning friends, I must silence you.

For the past two weeks I have been fully engaged in a new position at Montana State University, working for the same professor who hired me for the central Yellowstone elk and wolf project and the Weddell seal Antarctica project.  Following Antarctica, my performance in the field (and the classroom) somehow convinced him that I was worth hiring for a duration of 10.5 months (for those not familiar with wildlife tech jobs...that is 3-4x longer than most positions) to work on aspects of THREE of his research projects, these being:  continued elk population study in Yellowstone, new studies in the greater Yellowstone area on bighorn sheep and mountain goats, and then returning to Antarctica for next season's round of seal work.  It quite possibly could be the coolest wildlife tech position ever created.  So why am I not an ecologist?

Well, all I know about being an ecologist is the field-related logistics and tasks.  When it comes to the thoughtful design of research projects and the analysis of data, I find myself lacking.  It's actually this position at MSU that has shown me how far from being an ecologist I am.  During these winter months, as my professor is trying to give the sheep and goat project some legs of its own, I've been given the task of writing proposals for grants and permits and writing protocols.  This is not like blogging...this is technical, scientific writing.  An entirely new side of the instigation, development, and administration of research projects has been revealed to me.  These are duties and tasks I am not wholly comfortable with....I am just a mere field technician!

And thus it is....I am continuing to reach for the stars...aspiring for something more...continuing the process in becoming an ecologist, with the skill sets and knowledge to reach broadly and specifically into revealing the secrets of the often abused and misconstrued biological world.

I AM an aspiring ecologist.

And because I know everyone likes pictures (got to keep my blog exciting!), here's some Australia and New Zealand titillations from my travels post-Antarctica (the reason no blogging has occurred for months).

Typical off-the-beaten track Australian campsite, and our wonderful 4x4 Toyota Land Cruiser RV!

Momma and the wombat

Two paths diverged in the bush...

Goanna (~2 feet long)

Mungo National Park

The outback at Mungo National Park


Shingleback Lizard (chubs)

No feeding of the sulphur-crested cockatoos!

Jon and I at the highest point in the nation of Australia and the highest point on the continent of Australia (!)

Sydney with Grady (a friend and psuedo-Aussie from Montana State, living in Australia on stint for Campus Crusade for Christ in Newcastle)
A favorite hobby of mine: petting sharp, spiky critters...this being an echidna (an egg-laying mammal)

Front end of the echidna...short rubber tube jobby is its nose

Enjoying the refreshing waters of the Snowy River

At the top of the continent with the parents!

Ma and Pa

Wedge-tailed eagle

Superb fairy wren

Koala!  AAAHH!

Getting "drunk" on eucalyptus
Mt Cook/Aoraki National Park
photo courtesy Jon Oset

Conversing and cooking with fellow travelers on a beautiful lake in a gorgeous valley in an amazing country

Jon didn't know it, but we were searching for Blue Ducks

Arthur's Pass National Park, on the trail to Avalanche Peak

Kea, the mountain parrot

NZ fur seals--photo courtesy Jon Oset

En route to Milford Sound--photo courtesy Jon Oset