Thursday, October 15, 2015

Real Life Researcher by Mikala Skelton

            When we at the Las Cruces biological station we were given the opportunity to start thinking about and planning our independent projects for the end of the semester. My independent project involves collecting plants to try and find a natural insecticide. Another group is trying to find natural plants that will work as soap. Thus, the two groups went out on a trip together to collect plants. Hector Castaneda, one of our professors and the guide for this drive, knew where all the plants were located except one so we had to drive around the edge of the forest and look for it.
After about thirty minutes of driving and all eight people looking for this one specific plant, Hector stops the driver and gets out. By now the students had caught a few false alarms, but since Hector stopped us this time we were sure that he had seen the plant. He walked over, looking at one plant while we waited to see if we should get out of the car. He turned around and we called out the window, “Did you find it?” and in all seriousness Hector answers saying, “No, but I found black berries.” and held out a handful of black berries.
So we kept driving and then we found the plant. The problem was that the plant was on a little bit of a cliff so Hector wasn’t sure that he’d be able to get to it. Instead we kept driving, but we weren’t able to find another plant nearby so we turned back to conquer the unconquerable.
With a towing rope tied around Hector’s waist and the other end attached to the car, Hector disappeared with his machete into the abyss (see above). After a few moments, slices of plants would come flying at us to bag for later research. But the hard part wasn’t over yet; we still needed a root from the plant. Hector yelled up that he had it and I took the plunge to get it from him. I wrapped my ankle around the tow rope, securing myself the best I could. Then Carlos, our driver (seen in foreground above), grabbed my right hand, holding me tightly as he lowered me over the cliff so that I could grab the root.

After a few seconds of leaning over, almost parallel with the ground, I was able to grip the large root and Carlos pulled me up as I rose victorious with the root in hand. In that moment of collecting my own samples, I felt like a true researcher.

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