I truly believe in developing a personal relationship with the land. So when I saw UConn Extension offering this internship I was immediately hooked. With this work, I am aiding a professor and doctoral student in developing an ecotypic seed supply chain to revegetate highway roadsides with native plants. Ecotypic seed refers to native plant ecotypes that are grown and processed here in New England. It results in better erosion control, better pollinator health, greater plant longevity, less invasive plants… the list goes on about the benefits of using native plants.
I am also learning about mowing patterns and how we can best mow for pollinators and native plants. Although not an initial interest of mine, I have been taken aback by how much reducing our mowing can benefit the land. As I drive along the highways now, I am particularly aware of all the beautiful plants and wildflowers that have proliferated due to reduced mowing. We use our roads every day, traveling at high speeds turning the landscape into a blur. Having the opportunity to make our drives more ecologically authentic for ourselves, pollinators, and wildlife has been extremely meaningful. I am learning so much about the land we inhabit and about the beautiful plants that we often take for granted.