There’s no “I” in “Team” – But there’s an “Us” in “We successfully made it out of the marshy quicksand”

Okay. So there’s not really such a thing as quicksand. But spend a couple of hours trekking across the MacIntyre Simpson marshes, and you might start to question the validity of quicksand being deemed an urban legend. And if you ever get the chance to circle pond 115 on Blanca Wetlands in Colorado, you will be certain that such a time existed when people who dared walk near this shoreline got sucked into the mud. Sucked right in. For this exact reason we have safety meetings discussing proper attire, precautions, and walking techniques when we are on foot in these areas. For example, you need at least waist high waders, and you must walk heel to toe in order to free your foot when stuck in the mud in order to avoid ankle injuries. It was reassuring how much care was taken to ensure that we came out of the mud intact, and these muddy escapades end up being a ton of fun!
However, it’s not fun simply because we’re splashing around in beautiful territory looking for Endangered bird species at 5am while trying not to become one giant mosquito bite.

This is what trying to keep mosquitos off you looks like in the wetlands.

This is what trying to keep mosquitos off you looks like in the wetlands.

No. Because when put into perspective, it could really be a tiresome task. However the group of people whom I accompany out on the wetlands have made these surveys a safe, informative, and efficient assignment – all while having more fun than I could have ever hoped. It’s hard to believe that I just met these people a couple of weeks ago! Especially since we have built something very necessary in order to complete these assignments out on the wetlands: trust.

Tayler leading the way into MacSimpson at 5:30 am. Notice there's no trail?

Tayler leading the way into MacSimpson at 5:30 am. Notice there’s no trail?

Being that the majority of people I have worked with over the summer are seasonal employees, our supervisors tend to refer to us as a “team”. Some people might think that was a strange term for a group of adults in a work environment. Since I was involved in sports all my life I, however, am somewhat used to several individuals with different personalities and sometimes different goals being referred to as one cohesive unit, a “team”. When I first began this program, I immediately assumed that this was yet another situation in which the word “team” was very loosely thrown around and more or less just classified the seasonal employees in terms of where they worked. Our program works with the people who spend their time out on the wetlands. We are “Team Bug”.
While I am not a huge fan of what our team name implies… because yes, most days we actually are just hanging around bug after bug… I quickly learned that in our case the word “team” is not taken lightly.

I know that my blog entries tend to focus on the positive parts of my job (because there definitely are WAY more positives than negatives), however it’s the negatives that have made me realize just how serious our supervisors are in referring to us as a team. The wetlands, while beautiful, come with their fair share of hazards. You can be badly bitten or burned by a variety of things. You can be lost, injured, dehydrated, disoriented, and sleep deprived. But since I’ve been a part of Team Bug, I’ve realized that I don’t have to face any of it alone. Which is lucky, because I am not sure I would have survived the challenges of this summer solo.

Anjelica setting up the scope for me to start a 6am bird survey on Blanca Wetlands

Anjelica setting up the scope for me to start a 6am bird survey on Blanca Wetlands

When I was getting attacked by ravenous mosquitos during a teaching workshop, I was immediately offered bug spray (ironic?). When I’ve run out of snacks or water on remote assignments, I was informed that I could share, no problem. When I hooked a tree root in my waders and face-planted during a SWFL survey in the MacSimpson marsh, I immediately felt a teammate beside me, lifting me back up again. These assignments and these people/coworkers/friends have shown me that Team Bug is in fact a cohesive unit. Our number one goal is to make sure we all make it through the day healthy and hopefully happy, and so far we’ve had a successful season. So whether it’s two of us linking arms in mutual support while laughing hysterically – trying to get at least one out of four feet free from the sinking quicksand, having a nearby truck winch you out of a muskrat hole that appeared suddenly beneath your vehicle, or reaching out a hand to lift a fallen comrade from the sinkhole they just stepped in: Team Bug has got your back. I love my job.

tpuentes3
puent303@regis.edu
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