Native Plant Nursery

Nichole Davis, Bio 92, Spring 2014

              When I first started my current internship with the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy at the Fort Funston and Oceana Native plant nursery i thought that this was going to be a crash course in nursery work.  Well I learned as much as I possibly could about nursery work but also learned about the vast world of restoration work and how detail oriented native nurseries are compared to commercial nurseries. 

              Fort Funston nurseryOne of my original goals when starting the internship were to pay attention to detail in all aspects of the nursery work so this entailed data entry, plant inspection and even explaining transplanting techniques to volunteers.  I learned that I am a person that tends to rush things and not always double check myself, I seem to get in a mind set of finishing a project and just seeing the end point.  This can be problem some area with writing down propagule tags for plants, this number will follow that plant forever, so if I was off by one number that was a big problem.  To obtain this goal I was able slow my thought process down and double check my items to make sure they were correct.  Or I just slowed my explanation steps to volunteers to make sure they knew every step along the way while transplanting.  Every process in all these tasks are important and I just had to remind myself of that as I was going through the steps and to know that I have time to pay attention to those fine lines.  This process took some time and I of course still have to remind myself to double check my work but I have grown a large amount in this field I feel.  Another goal I am very proud to have conquered is driving a vehicle in the big city, and not only just a vehicle but a very large vehicle at that.  I don't own a car and am originally from a small town so I only drove on country roads really.  So after many drives with my manager I became confident in driving a small truck and then moved up to gain the skill of driving a large vehicle with classes through the Conservancy.  I am very happy to say how confident I am with this skill.  This is such a big skill needed not only in nursery work but in lots of jobs with restoration and horticulture jobs in general.  With all the small tricks and details that I got from managers and co workers I feel like that really helped me feel at ease! 

            Fort Funston Nursery 2Another big goal was to get to know a majority of all the latin names and common names of the plants we were growing.  This is always an evolving skill I'm working on.  I have problems with memorization so I always have to find small details to trick my brain into remembering things.  So with each name I have to look at the plant and come up with a reason why its labeled that.  I'm slowly getting better at latin but that will be a ongoing goal for me, there's always a new plant to learn and of course the pronouncing of it is even more challenging then memorizing it!  I have gotten to know a majority of all the plants we are growing by there latin name but like I said this was a hard area for me.  My last goal for the first half of my internship was to really understand the theories of native plant nurseries.  This might sound odd but I come from an ornamental horticulture background so native plant nurseries do things a lot different than what I'm exposed to.  This area is pretty clear to me now, the creation of biodiversity is really through my eyes the reasoning of all the small details to the native nurseries.  Creating a plant that isn't just a clone of a original plant, or making sure the plant is from the same watershed all of these things are just a few of the steps that are so important to obtain.  I learned all of these facts from classes through out the Conservancy and just the great knowledge of my fellow nursery staff an interns.

              potted plantsThe goals I stated for myself to obtain in this last bit of my internship are in the process of being obtained.  Next week will be my last week and will be finishing up my big GIS Seed collection map for Fort Funston.  This project has really helped me obtain my goals with all the different steps to finish the maps.  My first goal was to manage my office time and nursery work time.  I have to admit I think this was the hardest goal for me.  I had to really prioritize what needed to get done.  Truthfully I think I should have set more time aside for my office work to work on my project and to check emails and so on but I have improved on my time management skills but feel I have room to grow in that department.  My second goal was to improve my plant taxonomy skills and my third goal was to understand plant communities.  Both of these goals really were obtained by the steps of creating the seed collection map.  I went to each subsite of Fort Funston and created a map of what plants were in what area.  This made me really study plants I may not be familiar with and really look at the details of the taxonomy to figure out what plants they were.  Then I would realize all the scrub plants are in a certain area and all the dune plants were in a certain area, this really made me understand plant communities.  Along with my project my manager really helped with explaining taxonomy and plant communities to me while we would be out in the field.

              This internship has made me realize that I have a strength of working with volunteers.  It is something that I find very gratifying.  Without this experience I don't think I would have realized it.  In my future career I feel like this is something I would like to be incorporated into the job description.  I have also realized that I love nursery work but like to be working with others to keep me stimulated.  I can work by myself but I feel I work best when interacting with others.  Another big factor of why I felt I really gained from this internship is that I had such a diverse role, I didn't do the same thing day in and day out.  I like the idea of a job that keeps you learning and on your toes with different tasks.  In the end I feel like this has been an amazing experience that I am so grateful for.  Without this internship I think I would have not known many of my strengths and know my faults and what I need to do to improve on them.