It’s hard to believe that we are in the thick of Directed Research projects. My project centers on a 25 hectare plot of Danbulla National Park located in the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area of Far North Queensland managed by Australia’sCSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific Industrial Research Organization). As a Natural Resources Management major I understand how important CSIRO is to international research in rainforest studies. It is a complete honor to have the opportunity to conduct my own research on a CSIRO plot. My research focuses on how the forest community and structure changes near creek lines within this plot. Data collection has lasted 10 days and consisted of measuring the diameter at breast height of trees 1cm in width and above. We also measured the height of seedlings as well as determined canopy cover. The rest of the semester will be devoted to analyzing data, utilizing GIS, writing my research report and creating an oral presentation.

Australia has been an amazing dream come true. I first arrived in February new to the rainforest and Australian culture. I’ve learned so much through coursework and engaging with the community. I’m proud to say that I have planted over 300 rainforest trees and am grateful for the time I spent with my home stay family.

These accomplishments are all important, however, what I will remember and appreciate the most are the more subtle aspects of my time here. I’ll always remember the way the pademelons hop around on the forest floor on my morning hike. I’ll miss the way the rainforest smells as it starts to rain. I always find it fascinating how the rain takes a few seconds to hit the forest floor. I can hear each tree branch wobble as the raindrops bounce of their leaves.

One of my most memorable experiences occurs every night on my hike up to my cabin. There is a spot on the way up from the center where the canopy clears and the sky is full view. I turn my headlamp off and gaze into the night sky, which usually looks dusted with brilliant and bright dark blues and purples. The most spectacular part about this is the way the stars twinkle and shine. When you first set your eyes on the little shiny specs they appear far away. The more and more you stare, the more the layers upon layers of stars reveal themselves, all shining and glimmering.

At this time, I think about my future; I imagine my reflection on my time in Australia will continually teach me things. I know that I’ve already learned and grown, however, as time goes on I’m sure I will gain new lessons and make new connections. Syb, an Aboriginal Elder of the Yidinji tribe, explained that our essence is forever engrained within this ancient forest. I’m just beginning to realize this forest will forever be engrained within my heart.