Better Late Than Never, Right?

Boozhoo, My name is Brena Mullen. I am an enrolled member of the Fond du Lac Tribe in Cloquet, Minnesota. I am going into my senior year at Bemidji State University in Bemidji, Minnesota. I’m majoring in Wildlife Biology and am minoring in Wetlands Ecology. Coming into this internship, I have little to no experience with research and research papers, and very minimal Tribal background knowledge and little knowledge of what is going on. However, I was and am very excited to work with everyone and learn more.

To start off, we went to Glacier National Park in Montana. I was terrified but so excited to go so far away from home. My parents were super excited for me as well, but I could tell that my mom was nervous to let me leave. She gets scared any time I fly or anytime I’m gone for so long that isn’t within driving distance that they could pop in if they needed to. I flew out of Duluth, and on my flight, I was sitting next to this girl who look so professional and had all these documents in front of her (Later found out that this was Arianna!) and I had this feeling that she was also part of the REU but i decided not to say anything, just in case. So we touched down in Minneapolis and I realized that my next flight was pretty much on the other end of the airport. In the boarding zone for the flight to Kalispell, MT is where I met the other interns. It wasn’t the full group, but it was interesting to find out where everyone was coming from and to learn that only two of us were actually from MN. Once we touched down in MT, we met up with Dennis and Jessica. Then we traveled to the Glacier Institute in the Glacier National Park where we stayed for the 4 days. I loved it so much! The views were incredible and we even got to go fishing in the mornings. Arianna was the one to catch a fish, but it was fun to fish in such clear waters and feel the breeze so early in the morning.

My second favorite thing, next to the views was the fires we had at night. We sat around and shared stories, dreams, and played question games to learn more about everyone. I was really surprised by some of the answers because I wasn’t expecting that many people to share the same views as I do on climate change and other important topics.

After we got back to Minneapolis, the rest of my team and I went out to get some supplies from the local target and relax before we all got our big tour of the campuses the next day. After our tour was done, we got to be free for the weekend and went exploring that Saturday. We ended up at a food market not too far away where we bought wild rice bread, and where I bought 4 new books (one of which I finished in under a week – it had 3 books in it). My bank account was definitely not pleased with me. The next day, I spent reading my book and relaxing. That Monday we had a meeting with our mentor, Crystal, and a grad student, Alex. They showed us a little more about Tate, the hall we spend most of our time in and went over more details about our trip the next day.

On Tuesday, we met up before 7 am at Tate so we could head to Lac du Flambeau for fieldwork. We spent 4 days there learning more about our research and learning how to perform the pore water sampling, sediment sampling, and coring.

When we got back on Friday, after 4 grueling days of mosquito bites, I decided to head back home and pick up a few more things that I was unable to pack into my luggage. I took a Jefferson Lines bus back home (pretty cheap for a 2+ hour ride) and spent that Saturday at the enrollee day on the FDL reservation. I got to see some family I hadn’t seen in awhile and see some other members of my family before I drove back on Sunday in the rain. I couldn’t find parking near the campus, but I found a great spot about 22 minutes of a walk. But it was pouring so I was soaked all the way through when I got to the dorm finally.

We then spent the next week analyzing our alkalinity samples and writing some parts of our papers while our mentors were out at conferences.

This week will be short because of Fourth of July, but today we had a couple of recap meetings to go over how everything was going and what the next steps are. Tomorrow is vial prepping and then I’m home bound on Wednesday!

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