May the wind be to your back...

Wheeler Peak, Great Basin National Park, NV, USA
For the early career biologist here in the northern hemisphere, the spring months are spent in anticipation of the field season. The proposals have been written, the equipment acquired and counted in, the seasonal technicians who will go and actually get most of the data have been interviewed and hired and some of them have actually shown up. In these biologists' futures there will be long drives, camping in the rain, weeks without showers, crew member disagreements and perhaps logistical, personal and/or personnel problems and other hijinks. There will also be streams and forests, muskegs and wildlife, friendships and perhaps romances. The former may outweigh the latter in the moment - after all, working long hours for pay that your engineer buddy made during his sophomore internship, with people you have just met, for a common goal that, at first, you may not entirely understand, are, well, downers. But in the long run, good data will be collected, analyzed and prepared for publication, pushing forward the basic and applied realms of biological knowledge. For one's troubles, friendships better than the data will be forged, resolve will be strengthened and a few grand for the ski season or that next trip to Costa Rica will be saved.


This year is my first in a long time that I won't be hauling survey gear, turning a d-tape or washing roots 50-60 hours a week all summer long. I'll get my taste of the field and then return to the office analyzing data and writing papers (hopefully), but holding in the back of my mind that eventually the field will call again.

Tent ice...in August
Good luck to all the girls and boys of summer, the kids who camp each night, hike all day and get quality data for nothing more than the love of the game and a hope for a good per diem. Good luck to the ones who are paying their dues en route to their dream job as a field boss, researcher or non-profit coordinator, learning about their ecosystem du jour, themselves and life in general.

Some say that youth is wasted on the young, but most salty field biologists will agree that it's never wasted on a field season.

Here's a song or two for the summer:

Banner Pilot: summer music for your headphones. Skeleton Key and Central Standard at the Fest 2011.