Monday, June 18, 2012

Summer on Flat Ranch

This summer we'll be featuring posts from James Freeman, our summer intern at The Nature Conservancy's Flat Ranch Preserve, near Yellowstone National Park: 

Photos by Chris Little: (Top) Spring at the Flat Ranch Visitor's Center; (Bottom) East Idaho representative Chris Little with a Flat Ranch rainbow trout

Greetings from Flat Ranch Preserve! My name is James Freeman and I will be serving you as the unofficial and significantly inexperienced blogger for the summer of 2012. This summer I’ve traded in beach gear for leather gloves and a down jacket as the intern of Flat Ranch Preserve. A quick bio about myself:raised in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in Spartanburg, South Carolina, I am an avid outdoor enthusiast, self-proclaimed fisherman, sibling of three and sophomore at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia.

This summer I will work on the Flat Ranch, assisting with stewardship projects such as fence maintenance, collecting data on the wildlife, cow chasing and, of course, fishing, (for research, I promise….). Lucky for me, I’m teaming up with volunteers/ hardcore RV campers Ruth and Tobe Harbaum– a great couple from Colorado who seem to have a solution for every project we’ve embarked on so far, and Chris Little, the East Idaho Field Representative with The Nature Conservancy in Idaho, who travels to Flat Ranch often to make sure we work hard and play hard. Chris also lives by that philosophy.

If you make it down to the ranch, you’ll likely find me riding the ATV sporting a helmet that resembles something between a bowling ball and space debris. Though the helmet isn’t glamorous or cool, I need it to protect my academic investments. Ruth is typically greeting guests in the Ranch visitor center with a warm smile. Or you may find her cleaning out the swallow nests from the bluebird boxes for the 10000th time. Talk about perseverance. As for Tobe, our neighborhood mechanic/ gardener/ farm hand/ fence-builder… well, it’s safe to say he’ll be busy doing something productive.

Anyway, my goal is to return back to school in late August with a renewed respect for rangelands, conservation work and property stewardship. Also, I’d like to acquire the skills needed to catch a truly hog-like Yellowstone cutthroat trout on a dry fly. In the meantime, I hope to figure out how to blog and then steadily update any TNC fans out there with news from Flat Ranch, so hang in there... Tight lines, James

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