My Energetic First Week at Grand Canyon National Park

As my start date approached, I could feel the excitement and nervousness growing within me. I drove down to my sight at Grand Canyon National Park on Sunday July 10th, because my start date was Monday July 11th at 6:30am. I don’t know about most people, but the thought of living in a national park, let alone working in one, seemed so surreal to me. I grew up going camping with my family and visiting all these national parks, so this to me seemed like a dream. Going into this internship, I knew I was working Monday-Thursday 6:30am-5:00pm. I was a little nervous about the 6:30am call time only because ever since I got out of high school, I would never wake up that early, unless it was for an emergency or special occasion. Yeah, waking up the first day was kind of brutal, not to mention I was just getting off summer vacation where I was able to sleep in. But, day 1 was a good day. I rode my bike to the GRCA Science and Resource Management Building and I was greeted by my supervisor Lonnie, met my mentor Tara, and then I met the rest of the vegetation crew. On my first day, a ton of information was loaded into my brain like JHAs, different locations on South Rim, meetings, and work plans.

Sunset On North Rim

In good news, on my first day, I was able to see a family of javelinas with a tiny baby and it was so adorable. I had never seen one before. That day I had also found out that this upcoming weekend was going to be The Grand Canyon Annual Butterfly Count on North Rim and an intern retreat. Both of these events were taking place on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, and let me remind you that I am stationed out on the South Rim. I decided I would love to participate in both of those events because they sounded like great opportunities for me to meet new people and also learn more about different species of butterflies. On Wednesday, Tara and I left South Rim at around 12:00pm and the trip to the North Rim from the South Rim is about 4 hours. I want to add this very important piece of information: there is a stop before you arrive on the North Rim called Jacob Lake. They are known for having really amazing cookies, Tara had hyped them up on the way up there so it was only fitting that we had to stop there to pick up some cookies. Let me tell you they did not disappoint. They have a wide variety of flavors, and it’s for sure a pitstop for a lot of people. So, if any of you guys decide you want to make the trip up to the North Rim, I highly recommend carving out time to stop at Jacob Lake. Also, for people like me that had never been to the North Rim, man, are you missing out. The environment is completely different and the canyon views are extraordinary. It’s so crazy to me that both the North and the South rims are part of The Grand Canyon, yet they couldn’t look more different. After arriving at the North Rim, we got settled in our cabin for the weekend and we met up with the vegetation crew on North Rim. Work for sure didn’t stop, we did a lot of conditioning for a pollinator garden up there, as well as quite a bit of seed collection. On Friday afternoon, Lonnie and I made our way down to CC Hill campground for where we would be camping with the Zion National Park interns and supervisors. Friday and Saturday were filled with a lot of hiking and getting to know the interns, while also sharing about what we want/hoped for our futures. It was a very cool experience, and I was grateful to have met some cool people.

Female Orange Sulphur Butterfly

Saturday morning was time for the big Butterfly Count event. The whole point of the butterfly count is for a citizen science project to go and catch butterflies, identify what species they are, and then set them free. This would then allow park staff and the North American Butterfly Association to have an accurate account of species richness and how they react to their environment. We had a pretty good turn out of volunteers and park staff. We then split into 5 different groups that would go to different locations and look for butterflies. The event was so fun, and it was remarkable to see the many different species of butterflies on the North Rim. Ironically, it’s actually much more difficult than it seems to catch a butterfly, it’s like they know. Sunday morning we made the 4 hour drive back down, I was absolutely exhausted. Monday-Saturday nonstop work. What a way to spend your first week huh?

Can’t wait to see what’s next!

Your Friend,

Cassandra Cavezza

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