Christina Wesseler, Bottany ’11


Christina came to the OSU Botany program in 2008 as a junior transfer student, after four years at the Central Oregon Community College in Bend, Oregon, studying for a Bachelor degree in Wildlife Biology. She began studying Botany after she worked a first summer field job with the US Forest Service doing Forest Pathology surveys. A significant part of the job was identifying plants and vegetation community types and this ultimately shaped her curriculum choices at OSU. Christina took many classes which are optional in the Botany major knowing that she needed to take Bryology, Lichenology, Mycology, and any other taxonomy class available that would lead to her being appointed as full–time District Botanist with the USFS in northern Oregon. Her outdoor interests developed early on during family hiking and camping trips with parents who are also employees of the USFS.

During her time at OSU she joined the BPP club, and served as Secretary and Treasurer. This brought her closer to a group of students with a passion for botany and science, and who became a base of friends with whom she studied, laughed, and learned. She attributes her most memorable experiences to time spent with the botany club, and their various trips. She also became involved with department student committees.

Christina worked in Bruce McCune’s lichenology lab and was also an undergraduate teaching assistant for Mark Wilson in BOT 313 Plant Structure. Both of these jobs taught her a great deal, and augmented her growing passion for non-vascular plants and for teaching.

As district botanist, Christina’s day-to-day job involves surveying project areas for sensitive species, writing specialist reports documenting findings and recommendations, compiling species lists and entering information into a reference GIS-based National Database. She also assists the Forest Invasive Species Coordinator with work on weeds, mapping new sites and updating yearly weed treatment information. In the field she needs to recognize all levels of plant taxa. Surveys are done specifically for sensitive, listed, or invasive species, but all the associated plants must be recognized in order to know where to find the target species. She is also trying to build a relationship with the local schools, to increase knowledge about plants and their importance.

Christina’s advice: “For those interested in fieldwork – get experience. Take the non-vascular classes, and others like agrostology and aquatic botany, as well as an ArcGIS class. While the botany program did a wonderful job preparing me for my work professionally, I think having this additional experience is vital for a field position. Go on botany club hikes, or forays with professors, and refine your eye for plants. “Plant Blindness” is Aaron Liston’s term for the blinders that so many people walk around with each day. If you can, do an internship while you are in school. Volunteer with non-profit groups like the Institute for Applied Ecology when they do sensitive species monitoring or planting. Any work you do as a volunteer will go on your resume. This experience is what federal or state employers are looking for. If your interests are in lab work, try to find work in one of the many amazing labs, or an internship. Often, it is knowing someone who works professionally in these fields that will open up the opportunities for you. Find out what your passion is. A job is something you need to enjoy and want to return to each day, even if it isn’t always agreeable. Be ready to work hard to reach your goals. It can take years of work, especially when jobs may be hard to find.”

Write a response

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Oregon State University ©Copyright 2019. All rights reserved.