Saturday, April 11, 2015

Visiting the New York Botanical Garden, where I worked 25 years ago

As part of a family trip to New York City, I went and visited my old boss, Brian Boom, currently a director at the New York Botanical Garden. It was great to see him again - he's a friendly, welcoming guy, as evidenced by how I got the job. In 1990, I had developed a very intense interest in botany after doing fieldwork with the Bureau of Land Management in Alaska the previous summer. I cold-called everyone related to botany whose number I could find (no internet back then - finding information was much more difficult!), and Brian offered me a job at the New York Botanical Garden, and a place to stay - not knowing me in the slightest. I worked with him for a few months, learned about plant classification, mounting specimens, all kinds of stuff.

Then he gave me the opportunity to work at a field station in Puerto Rico for the summer, identifying trees in what was called "The Big Grid", based at the El Verde Field Station of the University of Puerto Rico. I just did a bit of research on it, and found this blog post: I don't remember it being nearly as difficult as this person found it. Granted, any type of repetitive work will get boring after a while. But I don't think it was physically that hard. I do remember needing to watch for the stinging nettle relative - urebac - which was very painful.

Anyway. I had a very enjoyable time visiting with Brian. He showed me some of the rooms I worked in, and some of the specimens I collected in Puerto Rico ( It's interesting the paths that people's lives take. I didn't end up pursuing botany as a career (there's close to zero jobs in botany, anyway) and am actually not even that interested in gardening, even. But it was a very interesting little interlude in my life, that I will always appreciate.

Here's one of the specimens I collected:


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