|Cooling the feet on a plant hunting expedition last year.|
Erica came to us 3 or 4 years ago, basically saying, "I just graduated and I'd like to keep my museum curator skills sharp while I decide what to do next with my life. Do you have anything going on here that I could help with?"
We looked around and saw that our bear mount had a nose damaged by a wood rat, so we asked if she could fix it. She did. Then we looked around next and said, "Well, we have these old teaching collections of plants and animals. Why don't you take a look and let us know if you have any ideas." It was really that basic--none of us had any idea this would become important.
But we went on to organize, then digitize our collections together, along with partners like the Berkeley Natural History Museums. We expanded the collections to include more of the basin's species, created a new herbarium collection for the North Fork of the American River properties we also manage for research, and captured historical botanical data for that area.
As a result of our efforts, we have triggered numerous new research projects using these new digital resources, began documenting our biota lists, discovered new species in the basin, added related citizen science monitoring projects using iNaturalist and California Naturalist, and expanded our efforts into the UC Natural Reserve System's other properties, the Organization of Biological Field Stations, Symbiota, and iDigBio, which are national efforts.
In the intervening time, Erica completed an on-line Master's degree, received a fellowship that paid for it (largely based on her efforts here at Sagehen), and she just accepted her first museum job at the Chicago Academy of Sciences. She is now working on the national scale, as one of the budding new experts in the digital collections field.
We are really proud of Erica, and incredibly sad to lose her and her partner Travis, who did Sagehen's catering.