Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Sparrow Arc Farm Internship

Sparrow Arc Farm is located in Unity with 42 acres of vegetable production. The farm produces a wide variety of vegetables and fruit from jelly crab apples to our roulette pepper, the shishito. This summer we are working hard to produce more unique variety of our hot peppers (including the newest proclaimed hottest pepper in the world, the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion!) and heirloom tomatoes. Right now the farm only has four workers, including the boss, who are managing about 30 acres of planted land but we'll be having a few more hands join us in a few weeks when our season picks up.

The season has started out with a lot of tilling and  planting. In the past two weeks we've put our leeks, onions, pickling cucumbers, head lettuces, frisee, greens seedlings, beets, hot peppers, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and squash in our fields. Weather permitting we will be planting more by the end of this week.

We also were able to put up our wash up tent for packing out the veggies headed to gourmet restaurants in Boston. The tent was a monster to put up, but we now have a spacious area for all of our washing and packing equipment.

With so few hands and so much land we use our transplanter to help us plant seedlings neatly and efficiently. We've been steadily emptying and refilling our greenhouse with seedlings.

Sparrow Arc just sent our Boston customers our first harvest of arugula, mustard greens, french breakfast radishes, and dry beans.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Week 2 at Harbor Family Services

This is the second week at harbor family services, and was a little more busy than the first.  I had three days of training at the Winterport location in what is called Therapeutic Crisis Intervention.  The majority of this training is about de-escelating Clients when they become agitated or aggressive, which quite often is there reaction to a stressful situation.  Every person that is being treated in this program has an adverse reaction to some sort of stress.  Sometimes this means just getting angry, and yelling and blaming anyone who is near them for whatever problems they are dealing with.  This is something I delt with alot this week.  There was 1 participant who, although usually he only has a few minutes where he melts down here and there, was just so impatient this week.  Just telling him he had to wait 10 minutes to play video games was enough to send him in a fit, at one point punching out a screen.  After a bit of alone time, I explained to him again that he only needed to wait a bit, but he would need to clean up the mess he had made when he got upset.  He took this very well and just seemed to drag out the cleanup a bit, which he never likes to do anyways.  It felt good to be able to use the tools the methods they used during the first week, mostly patience and respect, and to see how well it can deal with someones frustration.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The National Aviary - Week One

This was a very busy week indeed! My schedule was Monday through Friday 8am - 5pm, just like it will be for the rest of the summer. When I first arrived I will be honest when I say it was a very large and unfamiliar environment for me, which left me feeling quite reserved and nervous about what was to come. I was dressed according to dress code and ready to start working. Little did I know, there would be no formal training. I shadowed one of the trainers named Diane for my first day, and the next morning was thrown "into the fire" so to speak. It has been a very fast moving introduction into the everyday routines and scheduled events. I now am under the supervision of David Miller, the animal programs trainer staff member. I have shadowed his training sessions, exhibit chores, and even paid encounters with the public. Dave is a good guy who truly wants his interns to take a lot away from the internship. According to him, interns at the National Aviary do not receive any type of money, however if they work hard enough and put in their full effort, they will receive experience far more valuable than any piece of paper.

As an intern, we all receive an area where we will work along side the trainers, and one area we are responsible for on our own. My area is the breeding center just up the stairs from the animal hospital. Here are where animals that have been taken off of exhibit go to when they basically have no where else to put them. Also, those birds which have become to aggressive to be on free range display are held here as well. Still haven't figured out why they call it a "breeding center" though. Along with that, I am on duty within the grassland and marshland sections of the aviary. I have already mastered feedings, and even helped with cleaning the marshland pond out. I would like to mention that scraping algae, and whatever else that was (which I do not want to know) off the bottom of the drained pond. I smelled awful, it was like hair, and I fell into it. It was so much fun!!!
Just the other day I have received my first intern personal project to work on from Dave. He wants me to use positive reinforcement training to get Winnie, our crested orependola, to jump up onto a scale for weigh-ins. Not only could it be used as a nice addition to a show or for the visitors, it would also help the veterinary staff record her weight since she will become a mother very soon, with a few more eggs on the way. I have direct contact with all of the birds in my exhibits however, that does not mean that they all like me. I have been literally chased out of a room by Joni, the feisty wattled currasow, who apparently does not like new interns anywhere in the marsh lands, thus pecks at your shins until you are gone. It sheds blood, and is not pleasant at all. The flamingos are also going through their breeding season which has proven to be quite the battle for territory when going into the exhibit for feeding and upkeep. However Dave has taught me some of the hand signals they are trained to respond to, and I have been using them to avoid being preened or bitten. In the future when I become acceptable to the flamingos, I will be in charge of running my own private showings with the guests. 
A lot is still coming together though and with Memorial Day approaching this weekend, it is looking like a busy week again next week. Some key things I have managed to get down are the cleaning and feeding in the breeding center birds. I have also learned methods of adding medications and supplements to different foods, and their preparations. I have began positive reinforcement training with Winnie, and have been required to know all of the birds in my sections by heart. My favorite part of this week has been seeing the kids during our live feeding show in the marshlands where the Inca terns fly down and swoop fish out of their hands! Totally looking forward to even more to come! 

This is an Edward's Lorikeet of whom I watch over up in the breeding center while their new section is being remodeled. Trouble makers!!! 

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Week 1 at Harbor Family Services

This week started out with mostly training, last Thursday that was actually why I was scheduled to work.  This training included job shadowing, where my job was to fallow different staff members for a period of time and learn what my job consisted of.  There was alot to take in, but it was exciting to learn that being interested in video games and different cards games actually gave me a leg up.  This was because there are some kids who currently need pretty much constant supervision, and if you can genuinely be interested in what they are doing while your doing your job, it really seems to give them a little courage to keep trying even if they aren't doing very good.  The hardest part I found was when i was outside playing Frisbee with one kid in particular, it was hard to not just bring them back inside to the video games and card games, something they all seem to have a knack for.  I think this quote that I found in a book about wilderness therapy is a good way of describing how detrimental that could be:
"lets face it.  For most of us our first reaction when we see a drowning person is to swim out and try to save her.  It's going to take a certain restraint to row out to within shouting distance and give what equats to swimming lessons."
These kids come from backgrounds that almost seem to scare them away from anywhere they could fail, and to feel defeated from just a couple bad throws with a frisbee.  But from last thursday to yesterday I saw some spectacular improvements, with kids going from staying at it from only 10 minutes, to up to an hour while they still weren't a champion thrower, but they were finally able to make a straight line throw, what may seem like a small thing, but you could see the improvement in other parts for them, their room cleaner, more manners at the table, there almost seems to be a little confidence boost when they get those "swimming lessons".   And also something unexpected that came out of this new found confidence, they wanted to try something harder.  A small hunger was starting to grow for challenge, something hopefully that will continue to build.