By Lani Fernandez, PMRCAA Ecological Land Management Intern 2021
Hello! My name is Lani and I am the Ecological Land Management Intern here at Pine Meadow Ranch. I was born in Central Oregon and I developed a deep love and respect for nature through a “free range” childhood spent romping through the forest. This inspired me to pursue a degree in Natural Resources and Ecological Restoration at Oregon State University so I could learn how to be a better steward for our beautiful landscapes. My education and experiences have led me back home to Sisters to help improve a place that is dear to my heart.
My main function here at the ranch is to develop, and begin implementation of, noxious weed eradication plans. My key adversary is cheatgrass but knapweed is also quite a problem. These harmful weeds are found along the Whychus Creek and have negatively impacted vegetation that provides habitat for wildlife and native pollinators. My goal for this project is to help bring back important native plants to restore habitat and ecosystem functions while at the same time making the space more beautiful. Additionally, I assist with general weeding and garden care, including planting, watering, and harvesting. The gardens here are vibrant and lush and it feels like a dream to spend time among the flowers, herbs, and veggies.
Everyday is different here and everyday I learn something new about plants, gardening, restoration, ranching, and art. Something that I particularly enjoy is identifying plants, both native and introduced. Once you begin to take a deeper look at plants and understand the subtle differences between species, the whole ranch becomes a botanical garden. I feel a spark of excitement when I correctly name a plant after studying its leaves, stems, and flowers.
I leave the ranch with a feeling of fulfillment because I often can see the difference I make in a day’s work. I feel so lucky to be able to put my energy into something that I feel passionate about — restoring somewhere that I care for and want future generations to enjoy.
Summer internships like Lani’s occur annually at Pine Meadow Ranch Center for Arts & Agriculture (PMRCAA). The Ecological Land Management Intern supports the riparian restoration program and other ranch operations at PMRCAA. As PMRCAA begins a multi-phase process to rehabilitate the Whychus Creek riparian zone, this intern position assists with designing, implementing, and recording the efficacy of various organic treatments used to eradicate noxious weeds along the banks of Whychus Creek. Future internship opportunities will be posted annually in the spring.