With a freshly printed degree, a head full of ideas and the desire to put both to use I was thrilled when offered the position of Pollinator Intern at the Holden Arboretum. Before discovering this opportunity, I participated in research focused on the Big 5 (lions, leopards, buffalo, elephant, and rhino) as well as population monitoring in Hoedspruit, South Africa. Through my University I did research on macroinvertebrates all over Costa Rica and I studied abroad in Florence, Italy. As I look back on my time as an intern here, I see this has been an adventure unlike any of those before. Brand new and with COVID still looming, the Pollinator Internship faced challenges no one had expected but upon my arrival it was obvious no one was deterred. I was welcomed, supported, and trusted to take up the position. And that brings us to the reason to have a Pollinator Intern at all.
As many visitors have noticed, the gentle hill beyond the butterfly garden has been transformed. Twelve rectangles framed by rebar and sun-soaked twine appeared on a newly mowed landscape in 2019 and have been there ever since. But why? Well, we want to see which of the three chosen pretreatments restores the healthiest plant community. We also want to see how pollinators react to these manipulations. Working jointly with the Research and Horticulture Department I had the chance to work with experts, learn different techniques and participate in different research projects. Using each new and developing skill, I assisted in documenting what plants are currently in the plots and compared that information to the past to see how the plots have changed.
Now, with the assistance of amazing volunteers, we are looking to see how many bees, butterflies, moths, wasps, flies and beetles are visiting these plots. Bees are identified down to genus when possible, including bees the size of a grain of rice! This is important because it reveals the diversity coming to the area we treated. With time we hope to see which treatment resulted in the pollinators favorite mix of plants, but like all the best things in life, we must wait for it. These plots will be around for another couple years at least, steadily revealing information. While this is something you won’t be able to touch, I can vouch that it is certainly is something to see. It’s not every day you get to see research in action. I am beyond grateful for this experience, and it has been an honor to share it with those who share my interests or are just curious to learn what is happening on the hill.