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Confessions of a Seasonal: Wetland Work is Tough

Written on: August 4th, 2016 in Wetland Assessments

WMAP Seasonal Tess Strayerby Tess Strayer

Growing up, I spent the majority of my childhood outdoors with friends, family, and the occasional wild animal. Whether it was hiking, biking, fishing or playing we were constantly exploring, thus you would think my outdoor experience would help better prepare me for field work this summer.  When I accepted an internship position with Delaware Wetlands, I knew working outside in “adverse conditions” would be a regular routine. I gave no extra thought to those two words; I thought I could handle whatever was thrown at me. Well friends, I was wrong.

I learned very quickly what the true meaning of “working in adverse conditions” was and how to adapt this new type of field work. Do not underestimate the words “adverse conditions.” When I heard those words my immediate thoughts went to a few hot days, walking around in plastic boots in some vegetation. The reality couldn’t have been anymore different.


Spartina cynosuroides aka “scissor leaves”

Picture this, a heat index of 95 with a real feel around 103+ degrees, a site where stepping off a vegetation platform meant falling to the other side of the earth and knowing this, you still fall every time. You will be the dirtiest you have ever been in your life before you even reach the first site. You will trudge through vegetation that was nicknamed “scissor leaves” and will slice you if you rub against them, and finally, a tan that would make the toughest farmer jealous. And while you think I am telling you these things to scare you away from field work, I wouldn’t change a single thing this summer.

Summer 2016 really challenged me both physically and mentally, but now looking back on these past three months, I have had some of the most fun I have ever had in a summer. This field work has prepared me for any possible “adverse conditions” and I now know how to survive if I find myself stranded in a marsh.

Remember kids, drink water and never step off the hummock.

Burtons Island Marsh

Wetland Monitoring and Assessment Program performing the National Wetland Condition Assessment at Burtons Island

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