Prairie's Own Companion

My son has taken a summer job working for an environmental lab in Madison. It is a full time gig for the whole summer and involves working underneath a graduate student working toward his PhD. The job is a perfect fit for Ben as he is an environmental science major. This work is right up his alley.

The job near as I can tell, involves two days a week in the field collecting data and samples in a large prairie owned or leased by the University of Wisconsin. The area is near Viroqua, nearly an hour drive from campus. They are studying prairie plants, insect and animal life and the impact of various practices and climactic changes upon them. For instance they do controlled burns on some areas to see if that helps or hinders seed growth, output etc.

So as part of it, he frequently sends messages to us via text with pictures of the things he's encountering. Suffice it to say, it makes a desk job look as boring as heck. And while I know it's not all daisies and fields of gold - there are bugs and heat and poisonous plants - I do envy his experience a great deal. The closest thing I had to that was an archeology field school at the U of M where we were digging up the foundation of a house from the early 1800's.

In any case, as you can see from the pictures, it's pretty spectacular. Having just been in the driftless area a few weeks ago, I can testify to the awesome serenity of the place. It looks like he is enjoying time away from the bricks and mortar of campus life.

As with my daughter who is in her first "real job" at the University of Minnesota's Supercomputing Institute, I am elated to see my kids getting real-life experience and enjoying it along the way. It is setting the stage for a career path for both, or at least a good stepping stone to something else. It seems like it was just yesterday when I was in their shoes, stepping into my first job.

I realized how lucky we are to have these opportunities and am grateful that I've got kids who look for them.

Blogging off...


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